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The Art of Using Preemption to Defend Wage-and-Hour Cases

Preemption technically means situations where federal law displaces state law: a function of the supremacy clause of the US Constitution. Often, lawyers speak of preemption even where it is one federal law displacing another or one state law displacing another. When statutory laws abut or overlap like tectonic plates, which should apply?

As large-scale cases proliferate under federal and state wage-and-hour laws, there is more and more reason to study plate tectonics for potential defenses. Thinking about preemption requires looking beyond the intricacies of the case at hand to broader issues of public policy; applying preemption as a defense requires thinking about more than the statute alleged in the complaint.

Finding preemption, like throwing the Eephus pitch, is an arcane but game-winning skill. Learn how to find it in this article from Michael Giambona.

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Originally published by Law360, April 2019.




Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Sulyma v. Intel Statute-of-Limitations Decision

The US Supreme Court recently agreed to hear Sulyma v. Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee, a case in which the Ninth Circuit ruled that ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations requires a plaintiff to actually read materials in order to start the running of ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations. ERISA § 413(2) bars actions more than three years after “the earliest date on which the plaintiff had actual knowledge of the breach or violation,” and the Ninth Circuit held that a plaintiff who receives all the relevant information relating to her claim, but does not read it or does not recall reading it, does not have “actual knowledge” to start the limitations period. The Sixth Circuit, however, has held differently; in Brown v. Owens Corning Investment Review Committee, 622 F.3d 564, 571 (6th Cir. 2010), it held that the failure to read documents will not shield a plaintiff from having actual knowledge of the documents’ contents. Several district courts have held similarly, determining that the three-year limitations period begins when the plaintiff receives the relevant information, whether she reads it or not. (more…)




4 Things to Watch After the High Court’s Body Blow to Labor

Kevin Connelly said unions will face an adjustment period as they seek to implement more creative methods of trying to retain dues-paying members. “I wouldn’t underestimate the unions. If someone wants to say this is the end of the day for public-sector unions—nope, not true,” he said. “There will be consequences, but I think the unions that operate in that sector will be clever enough to make the appropriate adjustments.”

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Originally published by Law360, June 2018.




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