January 11th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Employment Rights

Rinker v. Aponte, Pa. No. CV-22-00570 (C.P. Lycoming December 19, 2022) (Linhardt, J.)  Plaintiff commenced this action by filing a Complaint on June 10, 2022, containing a sole count of breach of contract against both Defendants. Plaintiff alleges that from 2016 to 2019, he contracted with Defendant CLEM Pa., LLC ("CLEM") via its agent Defendant Felix Aponte ("Aponte") to distribute and sell products made by CLEM. Plaintiff contends that Defendants terminated his contract on August 27, 2019, purporting to do so under Paragraph 15.1 (b) of the contract, which allows early termination of the contract "in the event that the DISTRIBUTOR or SHAREHOLDER has been involved in the sole opinion of CLEM in any criminal activity ... . " Plaintiff acknowledges that he was charged with a crime in Lycoming County, but avers that he was found not guilty of all charges. Plaintiff contends the provision of the contract allowing early termination for criminal activity did not justify Defendants' termination of Plaintiff's contract, and therefore Defendants' termination was a breach. The Court cannot conclude that Plaintiff's Complaint is insufficient to state a claim for breach of contract as a matter…


August 15th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Employment Rights

Care One Mgmt. LLC v. United Healthcare Workers East, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 20825 (3rd Cir. July 28, 2022) (McKee, C.J.) The court vacates in part and affirms in part and remands to the district court for further proceedings.  This case concerned claims of civil RICO liability predicated on federal mail and wire fraud, as well as state law extortion through acts of sabotage and fear of economic loss.  The Third Circuit concluded that the District Court erred in deciding that the record could not support a finding that the unions authorized or ratified conduct that could constitute extortion or that they wrongfully exploited threats of economic harm.  This case is based upon the fact that the union launched a campaign attacking Care One’s labor and business practices.  The campaign materials included websites, printed audio ads, as well as fliers questioning Care One’s billing practices and standard of care.  The progressiveness of the union was rather dramatic.  At NYU Law School, the unions handed out materials questioning Care One’s owner and the CEO’s purported hypocrisy for endowing the Institute for Law and Justice at NYU while violating labor laws.  The…


June 28th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Employment Rights

Ernst v. Union Cnty. Conservation Dist., 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104535 (M.D. Pa. June 10, 2022) (Brann, C.J.)  In March 2021, Plaintiff Eric Ernst, a Union County Conservation District employee for fifteen years, reported that his agency was improperly processing certain environmental permits. When Ernst's supervisor learned of these reports, he became upset and irritated, and four weeks later, Ernst was fired. Ernst now brings suit against his former employer, alleging discrimination and violations of the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law. The Conservation District moves to dismiss the claim under the Whistleblower Law, asserting that Ernst failed to allege (a) he reported "wrongdoing," as defined in the statute, and (b) a causal link between his reports of wrongdoing and his termination. But that's incorrect. For the reasons provided below, the Conservation District's motion to dismiss is denied. Ernst's Complaint and Opposition leave many questions unanswered. Although Ernst endeavors in his Opposition to outline the legal basis for the violations he reported, he does not identify any statutory or regulatory provision that "specifically define[s] some prohibited conduct" regarding the processing of NPDES permits. Moving forward, this omission, if left unaddressed, will prove fatal. But at…

Employment Rights

July 23rd, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Employment Rights

WRONGFUL DISCHARGE-WHISTLEBLOWER-PRIVATE EMPLOYER Heckman v. UPMC Wellsboro, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS (M.D. Pa. July 7, 2021) (Brann, J.) On September 15, 2020, Dr. Matthew Heckman commenced this lawsuit against UPMC Wellsboro, North Penn Comprehensive Health Services, and the Green Home. On November 23, 2020, Heckman filed a five-count amended complaint seeking a declaratory judgment regarding Heckman's employment agreement and relief for alleged violations of the False Claims Act ("FCA"), the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law, the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law ("WPCL"). The Defendants subsequently filed three motions to dismiss. Heckman was promoted to North Penn's Medical Director in late-2017, and then to North Penn's Chief Medical Officer in March 2018. As Chief Medical Officer, Heckman supervised a staff of over thirty medical providers. He also maintained his practice as a physician. Heckman does not allege that he entered into a new contract with North Penn or that the North Penn Employment Agreement was modified as a result of his promotions. On August 1, 2019, UPMC Wellsboro, North Penn, and the Green Home (a UPMC Wellsboro affiliate) executed a tri-party agreement leasing Heckman to the Green Home. Under this arrangement,…

Stewart v. Fed Ex Exp., 114 A.3d 424 (Pa. Super. 2015)

August 4th, 2015 by Rieders Travis in Employment Rights

The question is whether the trial court wrongfully dismissed Mr. Stewart's case determining a question of fact whether a licensed firearm in a personal vehicle glove compartment is located on Mr. Stewart's or Fed Ex's property.  Firearms are prohibited by the employer.  The facts alleged in the complaint do not establish that Fed Ex required the employee to commit a crime, preventing him from complying with a statutory imposed duty, discharged him in violation of the statute or otherwise terminated him in violation of a public policy that "is so obviously for or against public health, safety, morals or welfare that there is a virtual unanimity of opinion in regard to it."  At 429.  Accordingly, Pennsylvania law does not permit recovery on the facts claimed by the former employee here.