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Inmates participating in work-release programs do not quality for workers' compensation benefits, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled has ruled.

The court on Thursday unanimously affirmed a Workers' Compensation Board of Review's 2015 decision to not grant workers' compensation to a work release inmate named William F. Crawford, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. Crawford's hand was severely injured in a wood chipper in 2013 while he was working on a road crew for the state Division of Highways.

He was employed by the Charleston Work Release Center, now called the Charleston Correctional Center. Inmates live and work there as they prepare to re-enter society after leaving prison.

Crawford's injury required hospitalization and surgery, and his ring and pinky fingers were partially amputated. The state Department of Corrections covered his medical expenses, which exceeded $90,000. He was released on parole shortly after his hospitalization.

Court documents say Crawford sought workers' compensation benefits because "lack of treatment has put him at a significant disadvantage in re-entering society." He had appealed the board of review's decision, saying state law didn't clarify coverage exclusion for work-release inmates. He also said his equal protection rights had been violated, arguing that inmates working for private businesses would receive the benefits, while inmates working for a state agency would not.


A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit claiming that a North Carolina city discriminated against an African-American-owned television network.

A divided three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday reversed a lower court decision that dismissed the lawsuit against the City of Greensboro.


Black Network Television claims the city rescinded a $300,000 economic development loan because of race. The city says race had nothing to do with it.

Senior Judge Andre Davis wrote that the network provided enough evidence to make its discrimination claim plausible.

Judge Harvie Wilkinson III said in his dissent that the network presented "nothing more than bare speculation" that race impacted the city's decision.

Greensboro could ask the full court to hear the case. City attorneys didn't immediately return messages Friday.



Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss is trying to persuade legislators to increase salaries for judges and pay for judicial branch employees.

Nuss devoted much of his annual State of the Judiciary address Wednesday to what he described as the serious need to increase pay within the court system. He spoke to a joint session of the Legislature.

The Supreme Court is seeking to increase the court system's annual budget by about $22 million, or about 16 percent.

Nuss told lawmakers that all judicial branch jobs pay below market rates, and some fall short by as much as 22 percent. He said nearly one-third of the court system's employees work outside jobs to make ends meet.

But some legislators see the spending increase as a tough sell.



California's Supreme Court is set to clarify the state's rules for determining when employers must provide workers with a place to sit.

The court's opinion, expected Monday, stems from lawsuits brought by cashiers at the CVS drugstore chain and tellers at Chase Bank who said they were wrongly not provided with seats while working. The companies face millions of dollars in potential penalties depending on the California Supreme Court's interpretation of the rules. The court's opinion would affect other similar cases in the state.

Employers in California must provide employees with "suitable seats" when the nature of the employees' work reasonably permits the use of seats.

The CVS and Chase Bank lawsuits are now before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That court asked the California Supreme Court to determine whether each task employees perform must be evaluated to determine whether it qualifies for a seat. The 9th Circuit also asked whether the employer's judgment about whether the employee should stand and the physical layout of the workplace must be taken into consideration.

CVS and Chase Bank say the seat rules require a holistic approach that determines the nature of employees' work by considering the entire range of tasks they perform, according to the 9th Circuit.

In CVS' case, cashiers also stock shelves and perform other tasks that require them to stand. The companies also say the employees' job descriptions, the layout of the workplace and the business' judgment about whether employees should stand must be considered, according to the 9th Circuit.


The Supreme Court appears ready to deliver a major setback to American unions as it considers scrapping a four-decade precedent that lets public-sector labor organizations collect fees from workers who decline to join.

During more than an hour of oral arguments Monday, the high court's conservative justices seemed likely to side with a group of California teachers who say those mandatory fees violate the free-speech rights of workers who disagree with a union's positions.

Labor officials fear unions' very existence could be threatened if workers are allowed to get all the benefits of representation without at least paying fees to cover the costs of collective bargaining. The case affects more than 5 million workers in 23 states and Washington, D.C.


But Justice Anthony Kennedy rejected arguments by lawyers for the state of California and the California Teachers Association that the current fee system is needed to prevent non-members from becoming "free riders" — workers who reap the rewards of union bargaining and grievance procedures without paying for it.

"The union basically is making these teachers compelled riders for issues on which they strongly disagree," Kennedy said, noting the political nature of bargaining issues like teacher salaries, merit promotions and class size.



A federal appeals court has reinstated Obama administration regulations that guarantee overtime and minimum wage protections to nearly 2 million home health care workers.

The court in Washington ruled that the Labor Department had authority to change the wage rules covering domestic workers who help the elderly and disabled with everyday tasks such as bathing or taking medicine.

Workers hired through third-party staffing agencies haven't been eligible for minimum wage and overtime pay since 1974.

A federal judge had scrapped the rules earlier this year after finding that the agency had overstepped its authority, but the appeals court reversed that ruling.



A California appeals court sided with one of the largest fruit farms in the nation, ruling that a law allowing the state to order unions and farming companies to reach binding contracts was unconstitutional.

Labor activists say the mandatory mediation and conciliation law is a key to helping farm workers improve working conditions.

However, the 5th District Court of Appeal said Thursday it does not clearly state the standards that the contracts are supposed to achieve.

The ruling came in a fight between Gerawan Farming and the United Farm Workers, the union launched by Cesar Chavez. The union won the right to represent Gerawan workers in 1992, but the two sides did not agree to a contract.

At the union’s request, the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board in 2013 ordered Gerawan and the UFW to enter into binding mediation. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement so a deal was crafted by the mediator and adopted by the labor relations board, the appeals court said. Gerawan objected to the terms.


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