On November 8, 2017, NELA joined our colleagues at AARP in filing an amicus brief on behalf of the Plaintiff-Appellants in Brotherston, et al. v. Putnam Investments, et al., pending currently in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The district court’s decision in this case incorrectly found that the defendant had prudently selected and monitored the investment options—which included its own proprietary funds—in its 401(k) plan. In providing important historical context regarding the development and enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the amicus brief demonstrates the need for ERISA’s rules governing the responsibilities of retirement plan trustees to be carefully and rigorously enforced. The need for retirement plan administrators to demonstrate the highest levels of prudence, loyalty, and care is of particular importance in the case of defined contribution retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, as even relatively small additional fees or losses due to risky investments can have a large impact on the amount of savings available to plan beneficiaries upon retirement. The amicus brief was drafted by NELA member Mary Ellen Signorille (AARP Foundation Litigation, Washington, DC) with input from NELA ERISA expert Jeffrey Lewis (Keller Rohrback, LLP, Oakland, CA).… Read More
NELA Amicus Brief: Jones v. City of Boston (1st Cir.)
On March 11, 2016, NELA joined the Equal Justice Society, Justice at Work, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice in filing an amicus brief in support of the Plaintiff-Appellants in Jones v. City of Boston, currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
The amicus brief provides the court with important historical context regarding the development of the law governing disparate impact, and its importance to addressing systemic discrimination in professions, like law enforcement, with deeply-imbedded cultures of exclusion that would otherwise be practically impossible to remedy.
After providing that background, the brief turns to the problems raised by the manner in which the district court evaluated both “business necessity” and “availability of a less-discriminatory alternative” in the context of resolving a motion for summary judgment. As the brief argues, the district court applied a “watered-down” version of the business necessity requirement to the Department and a heightened version of the less discriminatory alternative standard to the plaintiffs. This is particularly problematic at the summary judgment stage, because doing so necessitated drawing a number of inferences against the plaintiffs, weighing the evidence inappropriately, and … Read More
NELA Amicus Brief: Marzuq v. Cadete Enterprises (1st Circuit)
On October 29, 2014, NELA joined the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and other organizations to request leave to submit an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs-appellants in Marzuq v. Cadete Enterprises (d/b/a Dunkin’ Donuts), No. 14-1744, pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The issues in this case fall within NELA’s amicus priority of confronting wage theft and compensable time violations. Plaintiffs are represented by NELA member Shannon Liss-Riordan, Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C. (Boston, MA). The amicus brief was drafted by NELA member Peter Winebrake, Winebrake & Santillo, L.L.C. (Dresher, PA), and Anthony Mischel of NELP.
Plaintiffs, former managers at Dunkin’ Donuts stores, are seeking overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Managers are expected to work 48 hours per week and often work more than 60 hours. Conversely, hourly employees are prohibited from working extra hours. The issue is whether the managers, who spend most of their work day performing the same work as the hourly employees, including serving customers, were misclassified as exempt employees and entitled to overtime pay. As is common in the fast food industry, the managers did not earn much more than the hourly employees.
Defendants moved for summary … Read More