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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.

  • On November 15, 2023, President Biden nominated Nicole Berner to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Our press release is here.
  • In October 2023, James & Hoffman filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking a declaratory judgment that Workers United may continue to use the name “Starbucks Workers United” and an associated logo in connection with its campaign to unionize Starbucks workers. The company had threatened to sue the union for trademark and copyright infringement. Danny Rosenthal, Betty Grdina, and Charlotte Schwartz represent Workers United.
  • On September 13, 2023, James & Hoffman won a jury verdict on behalf of a school social worker who was severely harassed and assaulted by the Assistant Principal of a DC elementary school. The jury awarded a total of $700,000 in emotional distress damages on one count of hostile work environment under Title VII and the D.C. Human Rights Act, and one count of negligent supervision under DC common law. According to the Washington Post, this verdict represents the largest damages award against the District for sexual harassment for some time. The case was tried by Michael Ellement, Alice Hwang, Betty Grdina, and Charlotte Schwartz, and was also litigated by Daniel Rosenthal and Ryan Griffin.
  • On July 28, 2023, Lawdragon announced the 500 leading Civil Rights & Plaintiff Employment Lawyers. On that list are 11 James & Hoffman attorneys – Nicole G. Berner, David P. Dean, Betty Grdina, Ryan E. Griffin, Steven K. Hoffman, Alice C. Hwang, Edgar N. James, Kathy L. Krieger, Danny Rosenthal, and Judy Scott.
  • In April 2023, James & Hoffman filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of the Union of Southern Service Workers. The complaint argues that the South Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration has violated Title VI by conducting few or no safety inspections of workplaces in industries that have disproportionate numbers of black workers, while conducting many inspections in mostly white industries. The complaint shows that the disparity cannot be justified by the relative safety of the industries and that South Carolina is an outlier among neighboring states. Danny Rosenthal and Charlotte Schwartz represent the union.
  • On March 22, 2023, James & Hoffman filed a lawsuit in the United States Court of Federal Claims on behalf of an FAA employee who was denied timely payment of wages, including overtime pay. The complaint is here. The complaint alleges that the FAA violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to ensure timely payments of wages and seeks liquidated damages on behalf of affected employees. For more information about the case, contact Daniel Rosenthal at [email protected]. If you are an FAA employee who has been affected by untimely wage payments during the past three years, and you are interested in pursuing legal action, you may fill out the retainer agreement and consent form.
  • In October 2022, James & Hoffman filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight Starbucks workers in Anderson, South Carolina, who were falsely accused by the company of crimes. The suit alleges defamation and abuse of process. Since filing the suit, the plaintiffs have defeated a motion to dismiss on preemption grounds and a motion to compel arbitration. The case is proceeding in South Carolina state court. Danny Rosenthal, Michael Ellement, and Charlotte Schwartz represent the plaintiffs.
  • In September 2022, Daniel Rosenthal and Michael Ellement published an article arguing that states and localities should have wide latitude in regulating workplace conditions at airports and in the airline industry. The article was published in The Air & Space Lawyer, a journal sponsored by the American Bar Association.
  • In September 2022, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied an emergency stay of an injunction ordering Starbucks to reinstate workers (known as the “Memphis Seven”) who were fired for their union activity. The Sixth Circuit’s decision required Starbucks to immediately rehire the workers. James & Hoffman partners Ryan Griffin, Daniel Rosenthal, and Michael Ellement represented the workers’ union, Workers United, as amicus curie before the Sixth Circuit.
  • In August 2022, the Federal Court of Claims denied the Government’s motion for summary judgment in Doe No. 1 v. United States, Case No. 19-cv-1747. The Plaintiff in the case is an FBI employee who was required to work overtime hours at an FBI training course, but was not paid for working those hours at the appropriate overtime rate. The Court agreed with Plaintiff that the United States Office of Personnel Management’s regulation denying overtime pay for “entry level training” is invalid. Accordingly, Plaintiff may be entitled to overtime pay for work performed at the course. James & Hoffman partners Daniel Rosenthal and Michael Ellement represent the Plaintiff in the case.
  • James & Hoffman is proud to announce that Michael Ellement became a partner at the firm on January 1, 2022. Michael is a graduate of the Catholic University of America’s School of Law and a former law clerk to Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle of the Eastern District of Louisiana. Since joining the firm in 2019, Michael has worked to achieve significant victories on behalf of clients, including protecting the rights of workers to safe working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael joins the rest of the firm’s partners, associates, and staff in our continuing dedication to creative and persistent representation of our clients.
  • In September 2021, eight partners from James & Hoffman were named to the Lawdragon list of 500 leading plaintiff employment and civil rights lawyers.
  • In August 2021, James & Hoffman represented the Washington Teachers’ Union in reaching a Memorandum of Agreement with District of Columbia Public Schools outlining health and safety protocols for schools and classrooms, details about possible simultaneous in-person and virtual instruction, and how to handle leave for teachers that contract COVID-19.
  • In August 2021, James & Hoffman reached a settlement with McDonald’s to ensure adequate COVID-19 protections for workers at a corporate restaurant in Chicago. The settlement resolved a lawsuit in which the firm had previously obtained a preliminary injunction requiring COVID-19 safety standards at three restaurants.
  • In May 2021, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied a motion to dismiss a claim seeking overtime pay for a Department of Defense employee who performed assignments on evenings and weekends during a training course. James & Hoffman represents the plaintiff, who challenged a restrictive regulation issued by the Office of Personnel Management that purported to deny overtime pay for entry-level trainings. The court ruled that the regulation was likely invalid.
  • In February 2021, the Second Circuit affirmed judgments in favor of James & Hoffman’s client, the Allied Pilots Association, in two related cases alleging breaches of the duty of fair representation, known as Krakowski I and Krakowski II. The appeal was argued by Daniel Rosenthal.
  • In early 2021, James & Hoffman represented the Washington Teachers’ Union with respect to various issues arising from the reopening of schools for in-person instruction in February. Among other things, the firm obtained an arbitration award finding that the District of Columbia Public Schools violated certain provisions of a Memorandum of Understanding regarding COVID-19 and ordering the school system to remedy those violations.
  • In December 2020, James & Hoffman won conditional certification of a nationwide collective action on behalf of Diagnostic Radiological Technologists at the VA. The plaintiffs allege that they were misclassified as “exempt” from the Fair Labor Standards Act. The plaintiffs are represented by Daniel Rosenthal, Alice Hwang and Brita Zacek of J&H, as well as Linda Lipsett of Bernstein & Lipsett. Further information on the suit can be requested at [email protected].
  • In December 2020, James & Hoffman partner Ryan Griffin secured a $1.8 million arbitration award for a corporate executive enforcing incentive and deferred compensation agreements against his former employer.
  • In November 2020, James & Hoffman partner Ryan Griffin secured approximately 18 months’ salary and benefits plus full attorneys’ fees for a South Africa-based staff member wrongfully separated from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) after management breached its promise of a contract extension. The decision is here.
  • James & Hoffman partner Ryan Griffin secured 15 months’ salary and attorneys’ fees in November 2020 for a West Africa-based agriculture specialist wrongfully separated from the World Bank after management treated her unfairly during the appointment confirmation process. The decision is here.
  • James & Hoffman partner Danny Rosenthal was featured in Bloomberg Law’s They’ve Got Next, a series spotlighting young lawyers who are on the cutting edge of the legal profession in various practice areas. As one of Bloomberg’s “Five Fresh Faces to Know in Labor & Employment,” Danny has been recognized for his commitment to fighting for workers’ rights, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, the article highlights his team’s work employing a novel legal strategy to secure a preliminary injunction requiring McDonald’s restaurants in Chicago to implement certain safety standards to protect their employees.
  • James & Hoffman obtained an award of 21 months’ salary and full legal fees for an International Finance Corporation staff member who was retaliated against and treated unfairly in a job selection process. The decision is here.
  • In June 2020, James & Hoffman was lead counsel in obtaining a preliminary injunction against three McDonald’s restaurants in Chicago arising from the restaurants’ failure to adequately protect workers and their families from COVID-19. The plaintiffs argued that the restaurants’ conduct created a public nuisance.  After denying a motion to dismiss and holding a four-day evidentiary hearing, the court found that plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their public nuisance claim and ordered the restaurants to improve their practices regarding use of masks and social distancing. The case is believed to represent the first time a court has issued a preliminary or permanent injunction requiring an employer to take steps to protect workers from COVID-19. The court’s ruling is here, and an article on the case, quoting J&H partner Danny Rosenthal, is here.
  • In November 2019, James & Hoffman filed a lawsuit on behalf of seventeen McDonald’s workers in the Chicago area who were victims of violence by customers or who witnessed violence against their co-workers. For example, one plaintiff was groped and assaulted with a “wet floor” sign. The complaint  alleges that McDonald’s negligently failed to protect workers from violence. J&H attorney Danny Rosenthal was quoted in USA Today explaining that McDonald’s failed to adequately design stores and train workers to reduce the risk of violence.
  • James & Hoffman obtained a judgement enforcing a World Bank staff member’s right of attribution and requiring the Bank to revise a publication to appropriately credit the staff member’s work.
  • In June 2019, James & Hoffman partner Ryan Griffin secured more than two years’ salary and benefits plus full attorneys’ fees for a West Africa-based economist wrongfully separated from the World Bank after management breached its promise of a contract extension. The decision is here.
  • In March 2019, James & Hoffman filed a complaint in the D.C. District Court on behalf of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association challenging an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) practice depriving certain retired law enforcement officers of a portion of their supplemental annuity benefits.
  • In February 2019, James & Hoffman represented the Washington Teachers Union in reaching a substantial settlement of claims that the school district followed improper procedures in laying off teachers.
  • James & Hoffman is proud to announce that Alice Hwang became a partner at the firm on January 1, 2019. Alice is a graduate of Yale Law School and former clerk to Judge Mary A. McLaughlin, a federal district court judge; before joining James & Hoffman in 2014 she was an associate at Arnold & Porter LLP, where she focused on complex civil litigation.Alice joins the rest of the firm’s partners, associates, and staff in our continuing dedication to tenacious and creative representation of James & Hoffman clients.
  • In 2018, James & Hoffman secured an order of backpay and reinstatement for approximately seventy teachers from the D.C. Public Employee Relations Board. The teachers had been fired without adequate notice of the reasons for their terminations.
  • In August 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice announced settlements totaling $21 million in a case brought by a whistleblower alleging that an ambulance company promised and paid illegal kickbacks to a public authority. James & Hoffman represented the whistleblower, developed the legal theory behind the case, and worked closely with the government to pursue it. The firm’s client will receive 23.5% of the settlements, nearly $5 million. More information is included in the DOJ press release.
  • In August 2018, the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal with prejudice of a putative class action against the Allied Pilots Association (APA). The case alleged that APA breached its duty of fair representative and violated federal law in connection with the seniority integration following the merger of American and U.S. Airways. James & Hoffman represented APA in the trial court and on appeal. The opinion in Bakos v. APA is here.
  • James & Hoffman obtained a judgement in favor of a wrongfully terminated International Finance Corporation staff member requiring reinstatement or payment equal to three years’ salary.
  • Danny Rosenthal and Ryan Griffin became partners at the firm on January 1, 2018. Danny is a graduate of Harvard Law School and served as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Ryan is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and previously worked as a Fellowship Attorney at the Service Employees International Union. Along with the rest of the firm, Ryan and Danny look forward to continuing to provide tenacious and creative representation to unions, employees, and non-profit organizations.
  • In the 2017-2018 term of the U.S. Supreme Court, James & Hoffman submitted an amicus brief in the merits phase in Janus v. AFSCME on behalf of the Service Employees International Union and the two largest municipal health care systems in the country (LA and New York).
  • In September 2017, James & Hoffman guided a local union representing D.C. Public School teachers and other professional employees to the successful conclusion of collective-bargaining negotiations which resulted in substantial, retroactive pay raises for bargaining unit employees together with other very favorable CBA changes. The CBA was ratified by bargaining unit members and presented to the D.C. City Council which unanimously voted to adopt the CBA and put its terms into effect.
  • In DR & DS v. Int’l Finance Corp., a case of first impression under the external disclosure provisions of the World Bank’s whistleblower policy, James & Hoffman successfully appealed the disciplinary measures imposed on two IFC staff members after they reported on a Bank Group Executive Director’s apparent efforts to derail an investigation into high-level public corruption in Argentina.
  • James & Hoffman obtained an award of three years’ salary, full legal fees, and additional equitable relief for a World Bank staff member wrongfully placed on an opportunity-to-improve (OTI) program and then unfairly denied a genuine opportunity to improve.
  • 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 International 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.
  • 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 public school 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 defended the decision on appeal, and, in November 2017, negotiated an amicable resolution of the litigation.
  • 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 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 rejected the employer’s argument that the arbitration award threatens public safety and denied employer due process rights. See 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).
  • 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.