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We periodically post on this page a sampling of legal decisions, briefs, papers and other information of interest. Please feel free to contact James & Hoffman for further information on these or other matters.

  • The United States government and state of Oklahoma intervened in a case brought by James & Hoffman under the False Claims Act. The government’s complaint was filed on January 23, 2017, and the Department of Justice press release is here. The case alleges that an ambulance company paid kickbacks to a public trust to secure and maintain a contract to be the exclusive ambulance provider for Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
  • In January 2017, James & Hoffman won a Fourth Circuit appeal in Salinas v. Commercial Interiors, litigated by Darin Dalmat, Ryan Griffin, Kathy Krieger, and the Public Justice Center. The decision sets a new standard in the Fourth Circuit for determining joint employment under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Maryland’s wage-hour laws, setting aside years of muddled decisions in this area. Under the decision, two businesses are joint employers when they allocate responsibility for or otherwise codetermine—formally or informally, directly or indirectly—the terms of a worker’s work, and when the two businesses’ combined influence over the work shows the worker is an employee rather than an independent contractor. The analytical clarity of this worker friendly decision should help turn legal rights into realities for employees throughout the fissured workplaces of our subcontracting economy.
  • In September 2016, James & Hoffman won a Ninth Circuit appeal in Herrera and SEIU USWW v. Command Security Corp., litigated by David Dean and Darin Dalmat. The case resolved a novel issue with substantial implications for airline and rail workers around the country: whether a voluntarily recognized union has the same legal status as a certified union under the Railway Labor Act. The Court ruled in favor of the union, and held that federal courts can enforce contracts negotiated by voluntarily recognized unions. It also found that the carrier violated its employees’ right to choose union representation by asking employees to sign union-removal cards and refusing to negotiate with the union.
  • James & Hoffman secured a $32 million award for the pilots of United Airlines in an arbitration, after previously prevailing in a judgment on liability. The dispute concerned a 2012 breach of the United pilot CBA negotiated during the Company’s bankruptcy, which, in return for massive sacrifices by United pilots and other employees, established a profit sharing plan funded by United’s holding company’s profits (rather than just the airline’s profits) in which only United employees could participate.  Although the Company could have negotiated a change in the CBA after its 2010 merger with Continental, it declined to do so, instead putting Continental employees into the United profit sharing plan (rather than a separate plan, as permitted under the United CBA), thereby diluting the pool distributed to the United pilots.  The award delivers to the United pilots the full value of the 2011 holding company profits distributed in 2012 to which they were entitled.
  • James & Hoffman submitted an amicus brief to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, urging the court to strike down a state law allowing employers to “opt out” of the traditional worker’s compensation system. The brief was submitted on behalf of the National Employment Law Project. In September 2016, the court ruled that the law violated the state constitution, a decision referred to by NPR as a “significant setback” for “a national campaign to rewrite state laws and allow business to decide how to care for their injured workers.”
  • In the 2015-2016 term of the U.S. Supreme Court, James & Hoffman submitted amicus briefs in the merits phase in two cases: Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association and Universal Health Services v. Escobar. The Friedrichs brief was submitted on behalf of the two largest municipal health care systems in the country (LA and New York) and the Service Employees Internal Union. The Universal Health Services brief was submitted on behalf of the David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Mental Health America, and the Service Employees International Union.
  • On the certiorari stage, James & Hoffman submitted a petition for certiorari in Unite Here Local 54 v. Trump Entertainment Resorts and an amicus brief supporting certiorari in White v. University of California on behalf of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists and Professor Keith Kintigh.
  • James & Hoffman prevailed before a Ninth Circuit en banc panel of 11 judges in Aircraft Services International v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, AFL-CIO, Local 117. The case was argued by J&H partner David Dean. The court’s ruling establishes that an employer cannot enjoin workers from striking without first attempting to settle the dispute with the workers.
  • In an antitrust case alleging suppression of nurse wages in Detroit, James & Hoffman and its co-counsel secured a $42 million settlement with one of the eight defendants in 2016. The settlement follows plaintiffs’ successful motion for certification of a class of more than 20,000 nurses (affirmed by the Sixth Circuit) and successful defense of defendants’ motion for summary judgment. See In re VHS of Michigan, 601 Fed. Appx. 342 (6th Cir. 2015); Cason-Merenda v. VHS of Michigan, No. 06-15601 (E.D. Mich. September 13, 2013). James & Hoffman has been counsel in several related nurse wage suits around the country, one of which also led to significant settlements, and two of which remain ongoing. See Fleischman v. Albany Medical Center, No. 06-0765 (N.D. N.Y. July 22, 2010) (denying hospitals’ summary judgment and Daubert motions).
  • In April 2016, James & Hoffman achieved the first successful challenge to the termination of a teacher in D.C. under the school district’s teacher evaluation system, implemented in 2009. The arbitration decision is here, and the Washington Post covered the victory here. James & Hoffman is currently defending the decision on appeal.
  • James & Hoffman attorneys have been quoted by the media in recent stories regarding issues on which the firm has worked. David Dean discussed allegations that McDonald’s should be held liable as a joint employer for franchise labor and employment violations, and Claire Prestel discussed the Supreme Court case regarding the False Claims Act mentioned above.
  • On March 13, 2014, the firm filed two complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of McDonald’s workers in Michigan. Click here to view the Amended Complaints in these cases. These lawsuits, brought against McDonald’s Corporation, its U.S. subsidiary and two Detroit-area franchisees, seek to remedy McDonald’s failure to comply with minimum-wage laws. Specifically, the complaints describe how McDonald’s regularly has employees show up for work at their scheduled times but then wait without pay until enough customers show up, or clock out and wait without pay in the middle of a shift if business is too slow. The plaintiffs in these cases also assert that McDonald’s charges them for the cost of their uniforms, effectively driving their wages below the minimum.
  • James & Hoffman represented restaurant workers on Georgetown’s campus in a successful wage & hour case, which led to significant settlements and a criminal charge against the restaurant owner for violating a previous order prohibiting the employer from discussing the lawsuit with his employees. See Ferrufino v. Vigor Restaurant, No. 10-01070 (D.D.C.); United States v. Chon, No. 12-00238 (D.D.C.). 
  • James & Hoffman obtained summary judgment on behalf of a union  on its counterclaim to enforce an arbitration award ordering the reinstatement of a terminated airline pilot. In so doing, the Court rejects the employer’s argument that the arbitration award threatens public safety and denied employer due process rights. American Airlines, Inc. v. Allied Pilots Association, No. 12-083 (N.D. Tex. November 2, 2012).
  • James & Hoffman represented a pilot in an administrative trial, and administrative appeal, in a successful whistleblower case. Affirming the trial result, the Administrative Review Board found that the employer violated a whistleblower protection statute  by docking pilot’s pay for calling in sick after pilot complained that company “pushed pilots” to fly when they were too ill to do so safely. The ARB determined that in appropriate circumstances a pilot’s refusal to fly while sick can be protected whistleblowing activity. The ARB also affirmed attorney’s fee award, rejecting employer’s challenge that fees could not be awarded where paid by complainant’s union rather than by the complainant himself. See Furland v. American Airlines, Inc., ARB Case Nos. 09-102, 10-130 (ARB July 27, 2011). James & Hoffman previously prevailed in a similar case. See Clemmons v. Ameristar Airways, Inc., No. 2004-AIR-11 (ALJ Jan. 14, 2005).
  • James & Hoffman successfully represented a union disability plan against separate suits claiming violations of ERISA and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Both suits were rejected. See Lee v. Allied Pilots Association, No. 08-542 (N.D. Texas July 14, 2009);  Wagner v. Allied Pilots Association Disability Income Plan, No. 08-0750 (N.D. Ill. January 16, 2009; May 18, 2009).
  • In a seniority integration dispute arising out of the merger of US Airways and American West, James & Hoffman successfully represented the flight dispatchers of US Airways, whose proposed integration methodology was adopted by the arbitrators.
  • Under the Freedom of Information Act, James & Hoffman represented the National Security Archive, which demonstrated that the Air Force engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the Act, leading the district court to issue various forms of relief. See National Security Archive v. Air Force, No. 05-571 (D.D.C. April 19, 2006).
  • James & Hoffman successfully represented an airline pilots union against a duty of fair representation challenge by arguing that a union owes no duty to employees who will be joining the bargaining unit via merger, but have not done so. See Bensel v. Allied Pilots Ass’n, 387 F.3d 298 (3rd Cir. 2004)
  • In a mass tort action brought by airline passengers arising from pilots’ peaceful strike, James & Hoffman prevailed in showing that Garmon preemption doctrine of federal labor law barred the action. See  Kaufman v. Allied Pilots Ass’n, 274 F.3d 197 (5th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 122 S. Ct. 1790 (2002).
  • On behalf of the United Farm Workers and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, James & Hoffman secured an order enjoining the Department of Labor to issue timely, adjusted minimum wage rates for migrant farmworkers each year. See United Farmworkers of America v. Chao, 227 F. Supp. 2d 102 (D.D.C. 2002).
  • In a grievance arbitration, James & Hoffman secured a $23 million damages award for airline’s violation of a contractual cap on outsourcing during a pilot furlough.
  • April 26, 2004 Legal Times article on the firm and its practice.