Altshuler Berzon LLP has filed charges on behalf of workers at McDonald’s who have come forward in the wake of the #MeToo movement to allege they have been sexually harassed at work. Together with co-counsel, and with the financial support of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund™, the firm has filed EEOC and state-level charges on behalf of eleven women and is continuing to investigate additional reported incidents of harassment at McDonald’s. The workers Altshuler Berzon represents are asking the EEOC to investigate not only the individual franchises where they work, but also McDonald’s Corporate, and to do so on a nationwide systemic level. On September 18, 2018, McDonald’s workers in ten cities – including some of the workers Altshuler Berzon represents – participated in strikes organized by the Fight for $15 that demanded that McDonald’s take steps necessary to end pervasive sexual harassment of its employees, including by providing adequate training and a safe and confidential reporting mechanism and by strengthening and enforcing their existing policies, among other demands.
On November 8, 2018, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision affirming a preliminary injunction issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California requiring the Trump administration to accept renewal applications from individuals previously granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. The Trump administration had sought to end the DACA program through a September 2017 memorandum rescinding DACA. The Ninth Circuit majority held that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in arguing that the rescission memorandum violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) because it was based on an erroneous legal premise – that DACA was unlawful. The Ninth Circuit further held that neither the APA nor the Immigration and Nationality Act barred federal court review of the rescission, and that the federal district court had properly refused to dismiss the plaintiffs’ equal protection challenge to the DACA rescission, based on evidence of racial animus, procedural irregularities, and disproportionate racial impact, and due process challenge to the Trump administration’s apparent backsliding on assurances given to DACA recipients that the information they provided in applying for DACA would not be used for immigration enforcement purposes.
One member of the panel would have upheld the preliminary injunction based on the plaintiffs’ equal protection claim, but concluded that the rescission memorandum could not be challenged under the APA because deferred action was a decision conferred to the federal agency’s discretion. The panel upheld the district court’s dismissal of the plaintiffs’ due process and procedural APA challenges to the DACA rescission.
Altshuler Berzon LLP represents the plaintiffs in one of the five cases that were before the Ninth Circuit: the County of Santa Clara, also represented by Santa Clara County Counsel, and Service Employees International Union Local 521. The Ninth Circuit decision can be found here.
On November 5, 2018, the federal court for the Northern District of Florida issued an order granting an emergency motion filed on Sunday, November 4, 2018, requiring the Florida Secretary of State to ensure compliance with the Court’s September 10 Preliminary Injunction Order by ensuring that Spanish-language facsimile ballots are made available to voters protected by Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act at all polling sites in 32 Florida counties on Election Day, November 6, 2018.
On August 16, 2018, Altshuler Berzon LLP, along with co-counsel at Demos, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and SEIU, filed a class-action complaint on behalf of more than 30,000 Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans in the 32 counties, as well as several civic engagement organizations, and sought a preliminary injunction to allow Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans the ability to cast a meaningful vote in the upcoming and future elections. The case is Marta Valentina Rivera Madera, et al. v. Ken Detzner, et al., N.D. Fla. Case No. 1:18-cv-00152.
On September 7, 2018, the federal court for the Northern District of Florida issued a preliminary injunction (with a corrected order issued September 10, 2018) requiring Florida’s Secretary of State to direct the Supervisors of Elections in the 32 Florida counties to make available a facsimile sample ballot in Spanish to voters protected by Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act, and to publish the sample ballot in advance of the election along with instructions in Spanish for how to use it to help cast a vote.
On Sunday, November 4, 2018, plaintiffs learned that the Supervisor of Elections for Duval County (one of the 32 counties at issue in the lawsuit) was not making Spanish-language facsimile ballots available at early voting locations, in violation of the district court’s preliminary injunction order. Plaintiffs immediately filed an emergency motion requesting an order ensuring compliance with the preliminary injunction. The court granted the requested order in material part. The court denied relief with respect to early voting because early voting has already ended in most counties including Duval, but granted the emergency motion with respect to Election Day and ordered the Secretary of State to “ensure compliance with th[e] Court’s order on preliminary injunction” by ensuring that “facsimile sample ballots in Spanish shall be available to all voters who fall within the ambit of Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act” at all polling sites in the 32 counties on Election Day.
You can read the Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs’ Emergency Motion for Immediate Relief here.
Altshuler Berzon LLP Take the Lead in Opposing Certiorari
On October 15, 2018, after 18 years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari petitions filed by three former manufacturers of lead-based paint. The manufacturers had been found liable, under California’s public nuisance law, for manufacturing, promoting and selling lead paint for interior residential use in the first half of the 20th century, despite their contemporaneous knowledge that deteriorating lead paint was highly toxic, especially to young children. The ruling, which required the manufacturers to pay $409 million into an abatement fund to remedy the public nuisance they had created, was affirmed in principal part by the California Court of Appeal in 2017, and the California Supreme Court later denied review.
As a result of the denial of cert, the three companies – Conagra Grocery Products Company, NL Industries, Inc., and Sherwin-Williams Company – must jointly and severally fund a court-ordered abatement program to identify and remediate lead paint hazards in pre-1951 homes in ten jurisdictions throughout California, prioritizing homes occupied by low- and moderate-income families.
Altshuler Berzon LLP, led by partners Michael Rubin and Stacey Leyton, were co-counsel for the public entities on the state court appeals and were lead counsel in opposing certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. The two cert petitions, raising First Amendment and Due Process challenges to California century-old public nuisance law, were supported by 11 amicus briefs. There were no dissents from the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari.
The Daily Journal on September 19, 2018 named Altshuler Berzon LLP partner Michael Rubin one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the State of California, for the second year in a row. Emphasizing Altshuler Berzon’s public policy and public interest work on behalf of low-income workers and consumers, the Daily Journal’s article discussed several of Rubin’s recent victories and pending cases in which the firm’s attorneys have developed new legal strategies “to ensure the protection of existing rights that are being stripped away by employers or companies.”
On September 7, 2018, the federal court for the Northern District of Florida issued a preliminary injunction requiring Florida’s Secretary of State to direct the Supervisors of Elections in 32 Florida counties to make available a facsimile sample ballot in Spanish to voters protected by Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act, and to publish the sample ballot in advance of the election along with instructions in Spanish for how to use it to help cast a vote.
Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act prohibits states from denying the right to vote of Puerto Rican-educated American citizens based on their inability to speak, read, or understand English. The Puerto Rican community surged in Florida following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, but many Florida counties still run English-only elections. On August 16, 2018, Altshuler Berzon LLP, along with co-counsel at Demos, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and SEIU, filed a class-action complaint on behalf of more than 30,000 Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans in the 32 counties, as well as several civic engagement organizations, and sought a preliminary injunction to allow Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans the ability to cast a meaningful vote in the upcoming and future elections. The case is Marta Valentina Rivera Madera, et al. v. Ken Detzner, et al., N.D. Fla. Case No. 1:18-cv-00152.
In granting a preliminary injunction, the court held that continuing to conduct English-only elections in counties that are home to Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans clearly violates the Voting Rights Act. As the Court explained: “Puerto Ricans are American citizens. Unique among Americans, they are not educated primarily in English-and do not need to be. But, like all American citizens, they possess the fundamental right to vote. The issue in this case is whether Florida officials, consistent with longstanding federal law, must provide assistance to Puerto Rican voters who wish to vote. Under the plain language of the Voting Rights Act, they must.” The Court also held that absent such assistance, those voters “would face the false decision to vote in a manner they do not meaningfully comprehend or not vote at all,” which “is antithetical to what our democratic government stands for.”
You can read the Preliminary Injunction Order here.
On August 16, 2018, Altshuler Berzon LLP, along with co-counsel at Demos, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and SEIU, filed a complaint in the federal district court for the Northern District of Florida challenging the failure of the Florida Secretary of State and 32 County Supervisors of Elections to provide Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans bilingual ballots, election materials, and assistance, in violation of Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The complaint was filed on behalf of Marta Valentina Rivera Madera, who moved to Florida following Hurricane Maria, a class of more than 30,000 similarly-situated Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans in the 32 counties, and the civic engagement organizations Faith in Florida, Hispanic Federation, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, UnidosUS, and Vamos4PR. The case is Marta Valentina Rivera Madera, et al. v. Ken Detzner, et al., N.D. Fla. Case No. 1:18-cv-00152.
Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act prohibits states from denying the right to vote of Puerto Rican-educated American citizens based on their inability to speak, read, or understand English. The Puerto Rican community surged in Florida following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, but many Florida counties still run English-only elections. Courts have held that Section 4(e) requires the provision of Spanish-language ballots, registration and informational materials, and bilingual assistance to protect the rights of Puerto Ricans living stateside to be able to cast an informed and effective vote.
Along with the complaint, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking relief by September 14, 2018, to provide time to translate ballots and other materials and hire bilingual poll workers before the November 6, 2018 general election. Plaintiffs also filed motions for certification of a plaintiff class of more than 30,000 affected Puerto Ricans in the 32 counties, and for certification of a defendant class of the Supervisors of Elections of those 32 counties.
You can read the following pleadings here:
A federal district court in San Jose on August 15, 2018 granted final approval of a landmark $115 million settlement to benefit consumers whose personal information was hacked from Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance companies in early 2015, believed to be the largest settlement in a consumer data breach case. In addition to the $115 million fund, Anthem has agreed to institute extensive additional security measures, including nearly tripling its annual spending on data security for the next three years and implementing a series of cybersecurity controls recommended by Plaintiffs’ cybersecurity experts. The settlement fund will be used to purchase credit monitoring for class members to protect themselves from potential misuse of their personal information going forward, or alternative cash payments for class members who already have credit monitoring. The fund will also reimburse class members who incurred out-of-pocket costs as a result of the data breach, up to $10,000 each. Fraud resolution services are available for all class members. The Court found that “Class Counsel achieved an impressive benefit for the Class.” Altshuler Berzon LLP served as court-appointed co-lead counsel in the case.
On August 15, 2018, the California Supreme Court denied review of the Fifth District Court of Appeal’s decision upholding the listing of the primary chemical in Roundup weed killer, glyphosate, as a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, known as Proposition 65. Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, challenged the listing as unconstitutional, claiming that the statutory provision relying on the expertise of international cancer experts violated the California Constitution by unlawfully delegating legislative functions outside the State, among other arguments. The Court of Appeal rejected these challenges, applying well-established doctrine. Monsanto asked the California Supreme Court to review that decision, claiming that the decision raised issues of statewide importance regarding good governance. The California Supreme Court voted to deny the petition for review, ending this challenge, and leaving the listing in place.
Altshuler Berzon attorneys represented the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO, CLC, and Environmental Law Foundation, organizations that intervened in the case along with other environmental groups to assist the State in defending its action listing this chemical as known to the state to cause cancer.
You can read the Fifth District Court of Appeal’s decision here.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on August 14, 2018 rejected a constitutional challenge to Minnesota statutes that permit homecare workers paid by the State to democratically elect a union representative for collective bargaining over the terms of their employment. Similar challenges have been rejected by the First, Second, and Seventh Circuits.
Altshuler Berzon LLP represented SEIU Healthcare Minnesota in defending the state law.
You can read the Eighth Circuit’s decision here.