Kahn, Smith & Collins, P.A. Ranked in 2014 “Best Law Firms”

November 12th, 2013

 Kahn, Smith & Collins, P.A. has been ranked in the 2014 “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® in the following areas:

National Awards

  • Tier 3, Litigation – Labor & Employment

Metropolitan Awards

  • Tier 1, Baltimore, Education Law
  • Tier 1, Baltimore, Education Law
  • Tier 1, Baltimore, Employment Law – Individuals
  • Tier 1, Baltimore, Employment Law – Individuals
  • Tier 1, Baltimore, Labor Law – Union
  • Tier 1, Baltimore, Labor Law – Union
  • Tier 1, Baltimore, Litigation – Labor & Employment
  • Tier 1, Baltimore, Litigation – Labor & Employment Read the rest of this entry

Court of Appeals Issues Wage Payment and Collection Law Decision: Attorneys’ Fees Should Be Liberally Awarded to a Prevailing Employee

October 3rd, 2013

In an opinion issued September 24, 2013, the Maryland Court of Appeals discussed the proper standards for allocating litigation costs under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (“WPCL”).  The Court’s decision in Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, Inc. v. Barudaldi, No. 77, September Term, 2012, helps facilitate access to back wages for aggrieved workers in the state.

 Under § 3-507.2 of the WPCL, employees may bring a private action against an employer to recover wrongfully withheld wages.  A prevailing employee may also be awarded attorneys’ fees and costs if no “bona fide dispute” exists as to the employer’s liability to pay the wages.  In the past, to measure whether or not there is a bona fide dispute, Maryland courts often have applied the five factor test[1] used in fee-shifting analysis for the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) to decide whether to award fees in a WPCL case.

  Read the rest of this entry

Federal Judge Rules Fox Interns Must Be Paid

July 25th, 2013

In a decision with potentially far-reaching consequences, a federal judge in New York ruled June 11, 2013 that unpaid interns working for Fox’s Searchlight production company were employees entitled to minimum wage and overtime.  The decision spot lights a broader problem: interns being expected to work for free. Interns who have worked for free should contact us regarding their rights and potential remedies – including lost wages and other damages.

In the Fox Searchlight case, Judge William H. Pauley of the Southern District of New York found that the production interns—who worked on the films Black Swan and 500 Days of Summer and at Fox Searchlight headquarters in New York City—fit the definition of employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York law. Read the rest of this entry

Arbitrator Awards Adoption of Union’s Offer Preserving Work Schedule

June 26th, 2013

In an opinion issued on June 4, 2013, neutral arbitrator Richard Bloch declined to endorse
Anne Arundel County’s proposal to substantially increase the work week of Anne
Arundel County firefighters. The opinion settled a dispute that arose in the course of
negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement for Fiscal Year 20414. The County
sought to increase firefighters’ work week from 42 hours per week to 48 hours per week.
Members of the fire fighters’ Union, IAFF Local 1563, rejected the proposal. They
proposed instead to retain their existing work week and receive a modest pay increase.
Pursuant to County law, the proposals were referred to binding arbitration.

At hearings held this spring, Kahn, Smith and Collins attorneys Joel Smith and F.J.
Collins argued on behalf of the Union. They argued that the continued 42 hour work
week (consisting of shifts of 24 hours on, 72 hour off) was the more reasonable proposal.

The County argued that its plan for a 48 hour week (consisting of 24 hours on, 48 hours
off) was more reasonable. It argued that it had made a mistake when it negotiated the 42
hour work with the Union in 2004. The County contended that 2004 agreement to
implement 42 hour work week was an aberration made under unusual circumstances and
political pressure. It maintained that a reversion to the 48 hour work week would prove to
be more efficient and economical, while allowing the County to expand its range of
protective services.

Smith and Collins argued that the shift schedule agreement bargained for in 2004 was
reached in return for wide ranging and deep concessions. They showed that the change to
a 42 hour work week was a long time in the making and that the Union gave much to
achieve it. The attorneys showed the arbitrator that the 42 hour work week has a
meaningful impact on the day-to-day performance of firefighters and that it allows the
County to attract and retain higher caliber personnel. Smith and Collins demonstrated the
further concessions made by the Union to help the County weather the recession. The
sum of this was a long term bargain that the County could not renege on.

The Arbitrator agreed with the Union. The Arbitrator acknowledged that the County
would realize economic savings by implementing the 48 hour work week, but noted that
those savings would be mitigated by increases in unfunded pension liability. The
Arbitrator also found that the 2004 shift schedule agreement was the result of significant
and far-reaching concessions from the Union. There was no evidence on the record to
support stripping the fire fighters of the shift schedule that was bargained for at such a
high cost. The firefighters will continue to work 42 hours a week. They will receive 3%
COLA and merit increases over the next two years.

The decision continues the success that Kahn, Smith and Collins P.A. has enjoyed
litigating interest arbitrations. Joel Smith and F.J. Collins have practiced together for
twenty years. They represent a variety of private and public employee unions, including
several locals of the International Association of Fire Fighters. They counsel unions and
regularly represent them in negotiations and interest arbitrations.

Download a copy of the Decision.