Settlement of Voting Rights Act Litigation Ensures Spanish-Language Ballots, Election Materials, and Assistance in 31 Florida Counties for Ten Years

On February 1, 2021, voting rights advocates represented by Altshuler Berzon LLP entered a 10-year settlement agreement with 31 Florida county Supervisors of Elections to provide Spanish-language ballots, election materials, and oral assistance to help ensure that Spanish-speaking voters educated in Puerto Rico and protected by Section 4(e) of the federal Voting Rights Act can vote effectively.  The settlement marks the successful resolution of Marta Rivera Madera, et al. v. Kim Barton (formerly Laurel Lee) (formerly Ken Detzner), et al., N.D. Fla. Case No. 1:18-cv-152-MW/GRJ.  The case is one of the largest lawsuits ever brought under Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act, and even before the settlement had already resulted in substantial expansions of access to Spanish-language ballots, election materials, and assistance throughout Florida. 

Under the settlement, 31 Florida county Supervisors of Elections will provide the following Spanish-language services in their counties for the next 10 years:

  • Spanish-language official ballots
  • Spanish-language polling place materials and assistance
  • Spanish-language vote-by-mail ballots and request forms
  • Spanish-language secrecy envelopes (including voter’s certificates) and instructions with all Spanish-language vote-by-mail ballots
  • Spanish-language translation of the Supervisor’s official websites
  • A county-specific hotline to assist Spanish-speaking voters during voting periods
  • Spanish-language signage at the Supervisor’s offices informing voters of the availability of these Spanish-language resources

The full settlement and motion to dismiss pursuant to the settlement can be found here and here.

For a summary of the history of the case, previous injunctive relief won before the 2018 and 2020 elections, and statewide rules adopted in response to this litigation in the spring of 2020 that now require Spanish-language ballots across the entire state of Florida, see here.

Unions File Briefs and Evidence in Support of California’s Crucial COVID-19 Workplace Protections

On January 19, 2021, Altshuler Berzon LLP filed amicus briefs and evidence to support emergency regulations adopted by Cal-OSHA in November 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the State, in two cases brought to overturn those regulations. Altshuler Berzon LLP represents, and filed the amicus briefs on behalf of, a multi-union coalition comprising the Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”), SEIU California State Council, United Farm Workers of America (“UFW”), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (“IBT”), United Food and Commercial Workers Union Western States Council, California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, California Federation of Teachers, Transport Workers Union, California Federation of Interpreters, SMART-Transportation Division California State Legislative Board, and California Labor Federation.

After the emergency regulations were issued, two sets of industry groups filed suit and sought preliminary injunctions to block implementation of these critically important workplace protections, specifically challenging key provisions that require employers to provide paid leave to workers who need to quarantine because they have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. The multi-union amicus briefs highlight the role that workplaces have played in the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly those workplaces in which employers have not followed public health guidance, and the importance of the emergency regulations in protecting essential workers. The unions also filed appendices of evidence, including numerous OSHA complaints filed by fast food workers as part of the Fight for $15 campaign, declarations from a public nuisance case filed by Altshuler Berzon LLP on behalf of fast food workers and their relatives at an Oakland McDonald’s restaurant in which unsafe workplace practices led to a COVID-19 outbreak, declarations from a similar case involving UFW and Foster Farms, and declarations from workers and union leaders at SEIU-United Service Workers West, UFW, and the IBT emphasizing the real and severe health threat caused by COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.

Here are the brief and appendix in the National Retail Federation case, and here are the brief and appendix in the Western Growers Association case.

Court Rejects Hollywood Talent Agency’s Motion to Enjoin Writers Guilds’ Collective Action to Protect Members’ Right to Unconflicted Agent Representation

On December 30, 2020, the Central District of California rejected an attempt by talent agency William Morris Endeavor (“WME”) to preliminarily enjoin the campaign by Writers Guild of America, West and Writers Guild of America, East (“the Guilds”) to eliminate talent agencies’ conflicts of interest.  WME sought to enjoin the Guilds from enforcing a talent agent Code of Conduct, which bars talent agencies that are authorized to represent Guild members from providing conflicted representation to Guild members.

 In April 2019, the Guilds adopted the Code of Conduct, which bars talent agency practices that result in serious financial conflicts of interest between Guild members and the talent agencies that the Guilds authorize to represent Guild members.  At that time, thousands of Guild members terminated their representation by talent agents who had not signed the Code.  Since that time, every talent agency in the industry except for WME has agreed to terms with the Guilds that prevent the talent agency from engaging in these serious financial conflicts of interest, allowing Guild members to resume representation by agencies other than WME.  In the lawsuit, WME challenges the Code of Conduct under federal antitrust law and, via its preliminary injunction motion, sought a court order permitting WME to represent Guild members, during the duration of the lawsuit, without abiding by the same restrictions that apply to every other talent agency.  As a result of defeating that motion, the Guilds may continue their campaign of ensuring that talent agencies that represent Guild members put Guild members’ interests first.  The Guilds and an individual writer-plaintiff are also continuing to pursue counterclaims against WME for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and California antitrust violations.

Altshuler Berzon is lead counsel representing the Guilds and individual writer-plaintiff in this litigation, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC v. Writers Guild of America, West, Inc. et al.  You can read the decision here.