Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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Karen Savage appealed the dismissal of her Idaho Wage Claim Act (“IWCA”) action by the district court. Savage brought this action against her employer Scandit Inc. (“Scandit”) in November 2016 after Scandit failed to pay her over $400,000 in commissions and bonuses she claims were due by the end of October. The district court granted Scandit’s motion to dismiss finding that Savage had failed to allege that she had earned the commissions as defined in the 2016 Commission Compensation Plan (“CCP”) between Savage and Scandit. The district court also denied Savage’s motion to amend, holding that the amendment would be futile. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined Savage alleged sufficient facts in her complaint to preclude dismissal, and that her motion to amend the complaint was not futile. Therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision granting the motion to dismiss the complaint, and denial of the motion to amend were reversed. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Savage v. Scandit, Inc." on Justia Law

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Charles Hartgrave appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission (the Commission) order. Hartgrave sustained injuries to his left knee while working for the City of Twin Falls (the City) on February 3, 2009, and August 23, 2012. Although Hartgrave’s left knee injuries and corresponding treatments were covered by Idaho’s Workers Compensation Act, Hartgrave argued the left knee injuries aggravated preexisting degenerative joint disease in his right knee and ultimately required a total knee arthroplasty (TKA) in his right knee. The Commission rejected Hartgrave’s position and ruled that Hartgrave’s right TKA was not compensable. Finding no reversible error in the Commission's order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hartgrave v. City of Twin Falls" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of an oral agreement between David Crossett (“Crossett”) and David Johnson (“Johnson”) to form a limited liability company (“LLC”). After Crossett formed the LLC, Johnson backed out by refusing to sign the written operating agreement. Crossett remained as the sole member of the LLC, which he eventually sold. Johnson and Tessa Cousins (“Cousins”), the LLC’s only employee, filed a complaint against Crossett, wherein they asserted, amongst other things, that: (1) they were members of the LLC since its inception; and (2) Crossett had breached his fiduciary duties. The district court dismissed the case after concluding that Johnson and Cousins were never members of the LLC because they had refused to sign the written operating agreement. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment. View "Johnson v. Crossett" on Justia Law

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An employee brought claims under provisions of the Idaho Human Rights Act, claiming: (1) the employer unlawfully discriminated against him based on race. He also alleged (2) breach of employment contract and the implied covenant of good faith. Furthermore, the employee (3) sought to disqualify the trial judge for cause based upon perceived bias. The district court denied the employee’s disqualification motion and granted summary judgment for the employer on all of the employee’s claims. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed judgment entered in favor of the employer. View "Mendez v. University Health Svcs BSU" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Idaho Supreme Court in this appeal centered on an Industrial Commission order denying that Dr. Richard Jobe’s Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (“MRSA”) constituted a compensable occupational disease. The Commission denied Jobe’s claim because it found he failed to prove that his MRSA colonization and infection were caused by his employment with Dirne Clinic/Heritage Health (“Heritage”). Jobe appealed, arguing the Commission applied the wrong legal standard in requiring him to prove his MRSA colonization and infection were caused by his employment at Heritage. In this case, as in Sundquist v. Precision Steel & Gypsum, Inc., 111 P.3d 135 (2005), Jobe’s MRSA colonization could have been incurred under a series of different employers before it manifested during his employment at Heritage. The Commission determined Jobe had not shown it was more probable than not that Jobe had become colonized with MRSA while employed at Heritage. Furthermore, the Commission did not undertake an analysis as to whether the colonization could have been incurred under a series of different employers prior to Jobe’s employment at Heritage, thereby contravening Sundquist. In fact, the Commission used the possibility of MRSA colonization from a prior employer to Jobe’s detriment. Thus, the Commission applied an erroneous legal standard. View "Jobe v. Dirne Clinic / Heritage Health" on Justia Law

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This case arose from an employment agreement between Allen Nettleton and Canyon Outdoor Media, LLC (“Canyon Outdoor”). The parties disagreed with respect to Nettleton’s entitlement to commission wages following his resignation. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Nettleton and denied Canyon Outdoor’s motion for summary judgment and motion for reconsideration of the rulings on summary judgment. Canyon Outdoor argued the district court erred in granting Nettleton’s motion for summary judgment: (1) because the parties did not agree to a term in the employment agreement that covers post-separation compensation; (2) because the Snake River Dental contract did not establish a “course of dealing”; and (3) because Nettleton was required to service client accounts to be entitled to commission wages. Among these, the third argument was essentially a dispositive issue in the summary judgment rulings at the district court. For these reasons, Canyon Outdoor contended the district court improperly applied the relevant standard of review in reaching its conclusion that a servicing requirement did not exist under the employment agreement. The Idaho Supreme Court agreed with Canyon Outdoor and found the judgment in favor of Nettleton had to be vacated. View "Nettleton v. Canyon Outdoor Media" on Justia Law

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Dennis Current appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission decision that determined he was ineligible for unemployment benefits based on willful underreporting of his earnings to the Idaho Department of Labor (“IDOL”). IDOL discovered wage discrepancies between the amount reported by Current and the amount reported by his employer, Wada Farms Partnership for two weeks in March 2016. On appeal, Current disputed that he “willfully” misrepresented his wages. Finding "substantial and competent evidence" supported the Commission's finding, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the Commission's decision. View "Current v. Dept of Labor" on Justia Law

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While employed by Zing LLC, Josue Barrios (“Claimant”) was totally and permanently disabled as a result of an industrial accident when he fell about twelve feet from a ladder and hit his head face first on a concrete floor. He suffered multiple facial fractures, a frontal bone fracture, the loss of sight in his left eye, and a severe traumatic brain injury that caused a major neurocognitive disorder and speech language deficits. This case was an appeal of an Industrial Commission order requiring an employer and its surety to pay the cost of a guardian and a conservator for Barrios. Finding no reversible error in the Commission's order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Barrios v. Zing, LLC" on Justia Law

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Shawn Bailey sued several parties, including Peritus I Assets Management, LLC (Peritus), for claims allegedly arising out of his employment at American Medical File, Inc. (AMF), doing business as OnFile. Bailey alleged claims for breach of his employment contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Peritus moved to dismiss Bailey’s claim for intentional infliction of and the district court granted the motion on the basis that Bailey had not alleged conduct that was extreme and outrageous. Peritus thereafter moved for summary judgment on Bailey’s breach of contract claim, contending the statute of frauds rendered it unenforceable. In response, Bailey moved to amend his complaint in an effort to bypass the statute of frauds. The district court denied Bailey leave to amend and granted Peritus summary judgment, finding the statute of frauds dispositive. Bailey appealed the denial of leave to amend and grant of summary judgment in favor of Peritus. The Idaho Supreme Court found the district court erred by finding the statute of frauds barred Bailey’s breach of contract claim against Peritus, “[Bailey’s] lone allegation does not vitiate the thrust of Bailey’s complaint to somehow change this case from one alleging principal liability to one alleging collateral liability.” The Court’s conclusion that the statute of frauds did not apply to Bailey’s claim for breach of contract against Peritus as alleged in his initial complaint mooted any need for Bailey to allege statute of frauds exceptions, and the Supreme Court did not address that issue. View "Bailey v. Peritus I Assets Management" on Justia Law

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Perry Krinitt, Sr. appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the State of Idaho and the Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). Perry Krinitt, Jr. (“Perry”) was a pilot for Leading Edge Aviation. He died when the helicopter he was piloting crashed in Kamiah, Idaho. Perry was flying IDFG employees Larry Bennett and Danielle Schiff to conduct a fish survey on the Selway River. Bennett and Schiff also died in the crash. An investigation revealed that the accident was caused when a clipboard struck the tail rotor: one of the passengers became sick and opened the helicopter door, dropping the clipboard in the process. Krinitt filed a wrongful death suit based in negligence seeking damages against IDFG for Perry’s death. IDFG did not assert statutory immunity under Idaho’s Worker’s Compensation Act as a defense. IDFG moved for summary judgment on grounds that Krinitt could not prove negligence. The district court ruled that IDFG was a statutory employer under the Idaho Worker’s Compensation Act and, consequently, IDFG was entitled to immunity from actions based on the work-related death of Perry. Krinitt appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Krinitt v. Idaho Dept of Fish & Game" on Justia Law