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Our Programs Court Cases in the News

A state-by-state review of court cases pertaining to workplace rights.

Select your state from the map below or from this list. (If your state does not have any court cases, then the page will not scroll down when you click on the state.)

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Supreme Court

Labor Department needs to clarify change to overtime rules, rules Supreme Court

Source: Associated Press, Associated Press
Date: June 21, 2016

The Supreme Court says the Labor Department must do a better job of explaining why it is changing a longstanding policy on whether certain workers deserve overtime pay.The justices on Monday asked a lower court to take another look at whether federal law allows the agency to require overtime pay for people working as service advisers at auto dealerships.The 6-2 ruling comes in a case involving a California auto dealer that claims its service advisers are similar to car salesmen or mechanics, who are exempt from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Wal-Mart Gender Bias Case Revived on Appeal

Source: Lorraine Bailey, Courthouse News Service
Date: July 8, 2015

Plaintiffs who saw their class disbanded after accusing Wal-Mart of discriminating against female employees can press their case because the retailer has known of the allegations for years, the Sixth Circuit ruled. In 2011, the Supreme Court disbanded the class in Dukes v. Wal-Mart, a decade-old case claiming women working for Wal-Mart are paid less and receive fewer promotions than men in comparable positions. Wal-Mart argued that the class of 1.5 million women was too big, and employees should have to file individual lawsuits, and the high court agreed. "Respondents filed some 120 affidavits reporting experiences of discrimination - about 1 for every 12,500 class members - relating to only some 235 out of Wal-Mart's 3,400 stores," Justice Anton Scalia said, writing the majority's opinion.

Another Arizona immigration law dismantled by the courts

Source: Associated Press, Bristol Herald Courier
Date: June 1, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court landed the final blow against an Arizona law that denied bail to immigrants who are in the country illegally and are charged with certain felonies, marking the latest in a series of state immigration policies that have since been thrown out by the courts. The nation's highest court on Monday rejected a bid from metro Phoenix's top prosecutor and sheriff to reinstate the 2006 law after a lower appeals court concluded late last year that it violated civil rights by imposing punishment before trial. While a small number of Arizona's immigration laws have been upheld, the courts have slowly dismantled most of the other statutes that sought to draw local police into immigration enforcement.

Supreme Court Rules For Woman Denied Abercrombie & Fitch Job Over Headscarf

Source: Brian Naylor, NPR
Date: June 1, 2015

The Supreme Court has ruled 8-1 in favor of a young Muslim woman who was denied a job at Abercrombie & Fitch because she wore a headscarf. Samantha Elauf had applied for the sales job in Tulsa, Okla., in 2008 and was recommended for hire by an interviewer. But Abercrombie has a "look policy" that bars the wearing of caps by its salespeople. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took up the case, and the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Elauf, awarding her $20,000 in damages. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, concluding that an employer cannot be held liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for failing to accommodate a religious practice until the applicant provides the employer with actual knowledge of his need for an accommodation.

Supreme Court seems to side with Muslim woman in discrimination case

Source: Robert Barnes, Washington Post
Date: February 25, 2015

The Supreme Court seemed inclined Wednesday to agree with a Muslim woman who charged that retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated anti­discrimination laws when it denied her a job because her head scarf conflicted with the company's dress code. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took up the case of Samantha Elauf, who was denied a job at one of the chain's stores in Tulsa. Elauf, then 17, had worn a head scarf, or hijab, since she was 13. At issue in the case was whether Elauf needed to explicitly volunteer during her interview that she wore the head scarf for religious reasons. Abercrombie said this action was necessary to trigger a federal law that prevents religious discrimination in hiring and requires employers to either offer an accommodation or say why it would impose a substantial burden.

With Supreme Court case pending, UPS reverses policy on pregnant workers

Source: Brigid Schulte, The Washington Post
Date: October 29, 2014

For years, as the Young case has wound its way through federal district and circuit courts, UPS has maintained that, under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is legal to only give light duty or other work accommodations to employees injured on the job. And though pregnant workers may temporarily be sidelined from physically demanding jobs with pregnancy-related back trouble, gestational diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome and other physical ailments, those injuries didn't happen on the job. So no light duty.

Supreme Court to consider workers' rights to sue 401(k) plans

Source: Bloomberg News, Investment News
Date: October 3, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider giving 401(k) participants more power to sue their plans over investments that impose excessive fees, accepting an appeal tied to a wave of suits against employers.

Justices Weighing Wages for After-Work Screenings

Source: Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times
Date: October 3, 2014

After his 12-hour shifts at an Amazon warehouse in Las Vegas, Jesse Busk says, he and 200 other workers typically waited in line for 25 minutes to undergo a security check to see whether they had stolen any goods.

Lawmakers to High Court: Protect Pregnant Workers

Source: Hope Yen, ABC News
Date: September 11, 2014

In a friend-of-the-court brief, the Democratic lawmakers - 99 from the House, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and 24 senators - said UPS delivery driver Peggy Young of Lorton, Virginia, was unfairly treated by her employer when it asked her to take unpaid maternity leave rather than provide a less strenuous position as her doctors advised.

Wal-Mart workers say self-defense got them fired

Source: Lindsay Whitehurst, USA Today
Date: September 4, 2014

A group of fired Wal-Mart workers is fighting a store policy they say leaves them powerless to defend themselves even if their lives are at risk.

How Will Supreme Court Rule On Health Care Law?

Source: Nina Totenberg, NPR
Date: February 2, 2011

Now it is the Obama administration's turn to defend a major initiative, and legal scholars of all political stripes caution against drawing too many conclusions.

Court Rules Company Retaliated By Firing Fiance

Source: Nina Totenberg, NPR
Date: January 25, 2011

By a unanimous vote, the court ruled that not only are workers themselves protected from retaliation when they file such claims, so too are their family members and close relations, such as a fiance.

Supreme Court Limits Workplace Retaliation

Source: Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal
Date: January 26, 2011

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that touches on this sensitive area for couples who work together.

Class-Action Foes Have Trifecta Before Supreme Court

Source: Daniel Fisher, Forbes
Date: December 20, 2010

Three cases that may determine the future of class-action litigation are before the Supreme Court.

Illegal Workers' Case Weighed

Source: Joan Biskupic, USA Today
Date: December 10, 2010

The Supreme Court appeared poised Wednesday to uphold an Arizona law that penalizes companies that hire illegal immigrants.

Supreme Court to Hear Arizona Case About Illegal Workers

Source: Joan Biskupic, USA Today
Date: December 8, 2010

Against the backdrop of a fierce national debate over illegal immigration, the Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear a challenge to an Arizona law that revokes the licenses of companies that hire undocumented workers.

Two Supreme Court Cases to Test Corporate Interests

Source: Robert Barnes, Washington Post
Date: December 7, 2010

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear two major challenges brought by corporate interests, including whether more than 1.5 million female employees of Wal-Mart can go forward with the largest discrimination class-action suit in the country's history.

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Wal-Mart Bias Case Appeal

Source: Adam Liptak, New York Times
Date: December 6, 2010

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal in the biggest employment discrimination case in the nation's history, one claiming that Wal-Mart discriminated against hundreds of thousands of women in pay and promotion.

Justices Again Consider Employment-Law Cases

Source: Robert Barnes, Washington Post
Date: November 16, 2010

...three men are before the Supreme Court, seeking to expand the ways workers are protected from employers...

Supreme Court Discusses Gender Discrimination in Citizenship Case

Source: David G. Savage, L.A. Times
Date: November 11, 2010

A deportee born in Mexico to an unwed American father says he should be deemed a U.S. citizen. But under U.S. law, unwed fathers have a harder time than unwed mothers in passing on their citizenship.

Justices Question Caltech Scientists' Privacy Claims

Source: David G. Savage, L.A. Times
Date: October 7, 2010

Does the Constitution protect the personal privacy of government employees and job applicants?

Constitution Does Not Ban Sex Bias, Scalia Says

Source: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: September 20, 2010

The U.S. Constitution does not outlaw sex discrimination or discrimination based on sexual orientation, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a law school audience in San Francisco on Friday.

Wal-Marts Asks Supremes To Wade Into Sex-Discrimination Case

Source: Nathan Koppel, Wall Street Journal
Date: August 26, 2010

Surprising no one, Wal-Mart has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved in the mammoth - and we do mean mammoth - sex-discrimination suit pending against it in California.

The Time Has Come for the Supreme Court to Carefully Examine the "Ministerial Exception," Which Allows Religious Employers to Discriminate in Hiring

Source: Marci A. Hamilton, FindLaw.com
Date: July 22, 2010

The Supreme Court has not yet addressed an important First Amendment religion doctrine that has percolated in the lower federal courts and in the state courts for years...This doctrine establishes the so-called "ministerial exception" -- an interpretation of the First Amendment's Religion Clauses that requires the courts to avoid interfering with religious organizations' employment decisions regarding clergy and other religious employees who are involved in religious doctrine.

Court to decide limits on retaliation ban

Source: AP, Las Vegas Sun
Date: July 1, 2010

The Supreme Court will decide whether a company can legally retaliate against an employee's friends, relatives or spouse for the employee's filing of a discrimination claim.

Justices Rule Against Group That Excludes Gay Students

Source: Adam Liptak, New York Times
Date: June 29, 2010

WASHINGTON -- A public law school did not violate the First Amendment by withdrawing recognition from a Christian student group that excluded gay students, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a 5-to-4 decision.

Justices Limit Fraud Law

Source: Jess Bravin and Brent Kendall, Wall Street Journal
Date: June 25, 2010

WASHINGTON--The Supreme Court eviscerated a favorite prosecution tool often used against corporate and public corruption, issuing a trio of unanimous decisions that dealt a blow to two of the landmark corporate cases of the last decade, the convictions of Enron Corp.'s Jeffrey Skilling and former media mogul Conrad Black.

Supreme Court Says Two Is Too Few

Source: Charles P. Johnson, III, Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP
Date: June 21, 2010

In a stunning blow to the National Labor Relations Board, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, invalidated more than 500 decisions issued by the Board during a 27-month period in which the Board was operating with only two members.

Supreme Court rules on employer monitoring of cellphone, computer conversations

Source: Robert Barnes, Washington Post
Date: June 18, 2010

In the first ruling of its kind, the justices said employers do have the right to to look over the shoulders of workers who use company computers and cellphones for personal communication, as long as there is a "legitimate work-related purpose" to monitor them.

Arbitration Showdown Looms Between Congress, Supreme Court

Source: Marcia Coyle, Law.com
Date: June 15, 2010

Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court appear headed for collision over mandatory arbitration in consumer and employment contracts. The justices agreed to decide next term whether a class action ban in a cell phone arbitration agreement is unconscionable -- one of the hottest issues in arbitration.

Complaint Says Employment Aptitude Test Was Invalid

Source: Judy Greenwald, Business Insurance
Date: June 2, 2010

The focus of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last week in Arthur L. Lewis Jr. et al. vs. City of Chicago was a 1995 written test of more than 26,000 Chicago Fire Department applicants.

Black Firefighters' Claim Was Timely, Justices Say

Source: Adam Liptak, New York Times
Date: May 25, 2010

In a case that carried echoes of two of its most divisive decisions in recent years, the Supreme Court on Monday unanimously ruled that black firefighters in Chicago did not miss a deadline to argue that the city used an employment test in a way that disproportionately hurt their chances.

The Class-Action Lawsuit against Wal-Mart

Source: Carrie Lukas, National Review
Date: April 30, 2010

How do you know when someone has been the victim of discrimination?

Walmart Faces a Gender Discrimination Suit

Source: Sean Gregory, Time
Date: April 29, 2010

On Monday, a federal appeals court ruled that a gender-discrimination suit against the company, first filed in 2001, could move forward as a class action, a decision that could potentially cost Walmart upwards of $1 billion, inflicting a painful wound on its much-improved corporate image.

Supreme Court Rules on Attorney Fee Enhancements

Source: Tony Mauro, Law.com
Date: April 22, 2010

In a case closely watched by civil rights and public interest groups, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that under federal fee-shifting statutes, judges may award fees that go above the "lodestar" amount under rare circumstances, including superior performance by the attorneys.

Supreme Court to Decide If Ledbetter Applies to Firefighter Discrimination Claim

Source: Ms. Magazine, Ms. Magazine
Date: February 26, 2010

The Supreme Court heard a racial discrimination case Monday where they might apply the Ledbetter Act for the first time in a Supreme Court decision.

Supreme Court to Consider Another Case on Racial Bias in Hiring

Source: David G. Savage, L.A. Times
Date: February 22, 2010

Chicago firefighters say they were illegally discriminated against through test scores. A lawyer calls it the flip side to last year's case involving white firefighters in New Haven, Conn.

Editorial: Age Discrimination

Source: Editorial, New York Times
Date: July 6, 2009

Amid the stack of decisions issued by the Supreme Court at the end of its term was a dreadful ruling weakening the legal protection against age discrimination. It falls to Congress to undo the damage.

High Court Curves in Conservative Direction

Source: Joan Biskupic, USA Today
Date: July 1, 2009

In the term that ended Monday, the Supreme Court shifted more to the right, making it harder for people to bring civil rights claims, rejecting challenges by environmentalists and raising the standard for older workers alleging bias on the job.

Justices Rule for White Firefighters in Bias Case

Source: David Stout, New York Times
Date: June 29, 2009

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday, in a case with enormous implications for workplaces across the country, that white firefighters in New Haven suffered unfair discrimination because of their race when the city scrapped the results of a promotional exam.

Supreme Court Makes Age-Bias Suits Harder to Win

Source: David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
Date: June 19, 2009

The justices, overturning a jury award won by a 54-year-old who was demoted, say workers bear the full burden of proof.

Supreme Court Issues Setback for Female Workers

Source: Bill Mears , CNN
Date: May 19, 2009

Decades-old time off given women for pregnancy leave cannot be counted when deciding pension eligibility, the Supreme Court decided Monday.

Justices are split in racial-bias case

Source: Michael Doyle, Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: April 23, 2009

Firefighters from New Haven, Conn., yesterday exposed an enduring Supreme Court split, as the justices confronted the year's most anticipated racial-discrimination case.

Supreme Court Rules Collective Bargaining Agreement Can Require Employees to Arbitrate Claims Arising Under the ADEA

Source: Peter J. Ennis, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
Date: April 6, 2009

In 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Steven Pyett et al, 2009 WL 838159 (2009), the Supreme Court ruled five to four that a collective bargaining agreement that "clearly and unmistakably requires union members to arbitrate an ADEA claim is enforceable as a matter of federal law." This result was sought by the employer and fought by the unions involved in the case. Commentators have already stated that the decision is "welcome news" for employers. Before deciding how "welcome" the decision is for employers, however, many issues have to be considered.

Women say new law helps their pension case

Source: Jesse J. Holland (AP), Business Week
Date: February 12, 2009

Four women who lost retirement credit because of decades-old maternity leaves told the Supreme Court Thursday a new anti-pay discrimination law signed by President Barack Obama means they deserve larger pension checks. The Supreme Court is preparing a decision in the case of four AT&T Corp. employees who sued the corporation because their decade-old maternity leaves wasn't counted toward their pension checks.

Justices Reject 'Class of One' Argument

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: June 10, 2008

Government employees who are singled out for arbitrary, irrational or even vindictive treatment by their supervisors will find no relief in the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, unless the mistreatment is due to discrimination on the basis of race, sex or another protected category.

Supreme Court Alters Tone in Discrimination Case

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: February 28, 2008

The failure to file the proper form to complain about job-related age discrimination does not deprive an employee of the ability to go into court later with a discrimination lawsuit, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. In its relaxed approach to formalities, the 7-to-2 decision marked a decided change in tone for the Roberts court compared with one of the signature decisions of the previous term.

Justices Add More Cases on Job Discrimination

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: January 19, 2008

The Supreme Court added two new employment discrimination cases to a docket on which such cases are already well represented. One case concerns protection for employees against retaliation for reporting the discriminatory actions of a supervisor. The other involves age discrimination suits when the employer says that it took an action like laying off a worker for legitimate reasons not related to age.

The Issue of "Me Too" Evidence in Employment Discrimination Cases: Sprint v. Mendelsohn

Source: Sherry F. Colb, FindLaw
Date: December 10, 2007

The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to consider the case of Sprint v. Mendelsohn, which raises the question whether "me too" evidence is admissible to prove employment discrimination. "Me too" evidence refers primarily to testimony by other employees of a defendant describing their own experience suffering discriminatory treatment by the same employer. The plaintiff offers such evidence to prove that whatever the employer did to him or her was also the product of a discriminatory motive.

Mohawk workers win ruling

Source: Marilyn Geewax, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Date: February 26, 2007

The Supreme Court has declined to consider an appeal by Mohawk Industries, which was sued by its employees for allegedly hiring illegal immigrants in an effort to depress wages. Mohawk went to the high court, arguing the plaintiffs had no case because there was no criminal enterprise. The workers, who filed their case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, say Mohawk paid recruiters to go to Texas to seek out illegal workers willing to accept low wages. They allege that the company worked with the recruiters to violate immigration laws, forge documents and harbor illegals.

In 5-4 ruling, Supreme Court curbs punitive damages

Source: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: February 21, 2007

The U.S. Supreme Court set new limits on punitive damages against makers of dangerous products and other corporate wrongdoers, ruling that jurors can award damages only for harm suffered by the plaintiff and not by other victims of the same conduct. But lawyers and commentators sharply disputed the effects of the 5-4 decision on multimillion-dollar verdicts against tobacco companies, automakers and other defendants.

Rights of unions and nonmembers vie at court

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: January 11, 2007

A case argued before the Supreme Court about how labor unions must handle the fees paid by nonmembers could turn out to be little more than a footnote to a long line of decisions about the respective rights of labor unions and dissident employees. Or the case might turn out to be a good deal more consequential, the first step toward a recalibration by the court of the constitutional balance between the two. Each of these contrasting outcomes appeared plausible during an argument that had a bit of something for everyone: First Amendment law, labor law, election law and an animated performance by the court's newest justice.

High court may lessen the political power of labor unions

Source: Al Knight, Denver Post
Date: January 9, 2007

It is said that every important political issue eventually ends up before the U.S. Supreme Court. So it is that the nation's highest court will hear an hour of oral argument on 2 Washington state cases that could limit the power of the teachers' union to use dues from nonmembers for strictly political purposes. The teachers' union is a powerful political force largely because it has been able to harness the financial resources of its 2 million or so members and use some of those assets for political purposes, most often benefiting the Democrats.

Court explores complexities in job discrimination case

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: November 28, 2006

Federal law prohibits discrimination on the job, requiring employers to pay their employees without regard to race, sex, religion or national origin. Many complexities lie behind that simple statement, as a Supreme Court argument made abundantly clear. The question for the court was how to treat a discriminatory action that happened long ago, beyond the statute of limitations for the federal Civil Rights Act, but that has effects that continue to the present day.

Supreme Court to mull pay-discrimination

Source: Mark Sherman, Washington Post
Date: November 27, 2006

A former tire plant employee is asking the Supreme Court to uphold a jury verdict in her pay discrimination lawsuit in a case that employers and civil rights groups are watching closely. Justices were to consider how to apply a 180-day deadline for complaining about discriminatory pay decisions. After 19 years at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant, [the plaintiff] was making $6,000 a year less than the lowest-paid man in the same job. She filed a pay discrimination lawsuit in 1999. A federal jury agreed and awarded Ledbetter more than $3.8 million. A judge reduced the award to $360,000.

The Supreme Court considers procedural technicalities that perpetuate the gender wage gap in Ledbetter v. Goodyear

Source: Joanna Grossman & Deborah Brake, FindLaw
Date: November 14, 2006

On November 27, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Inc. Under Title VII, a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex and other protected characteristics, workers may challenge decisions to pay them less on the basis of sex. The issue in Ledbetter is when such a challenge is timely, under the statute of limitations. Though the issue is a technical one, it has important substantive consequences. Sex-based pay discrimination remains a reality - and a seemingly intractable one.

Roberts, Alito will decide punitive damage caps at high court

Source: Greg Stohr, Bloomberg
Date: October 30, 2006

Business groups, which threw their support behind the U.S. Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, may learn soon whether they placed a smart bet. Roberts and Alito are positioned to cast the deciding votes when the high court determines the constitutionality of a $79.5 million punitive damages award won by the widow of an Oregon smoker in a suit against Philip Morris. "There are so many punitive damages cases around the country that could be affected by what the Supreme Court does here," said [an expert].

Sidley request denied

Source: Chicago Tribune
Date: October 3, 2006

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied a request by law firm Sidley Austin Brown & Wood to review whether federal civil-rights lawyers can pursue damages and other relief in a pending age-discrimination class action. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is seeking money and reinstatement for former Sidley partners who were demoted or forced out, allegedly because of an age-based retirement policy to provide more opportunities for younger lawyers. The firm denies the charges.

Court extends workers' rights to claim employer retaliation

Source: John Rossheim, Monster
Date: September 28, 2006

Have you considered filing a bias complaint against your employer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but pulled up short fearing your boss would seek revenge? Thanks to the June 2006 Supreme Court decision in Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway v. White, you now have substantially more protection against retaliation if you complain of discrimination based on race, sex, national origin or religion. Courts have long afforded workers some protection against retaliation, but now the Supreme Court has said that you need not be fired, demoted or lose pay to succeed in such a claim.

High court to hear case about union dues

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: September 26, 2006

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether public employee unions must get special permission to spend some workers' dues on political causes, a case testing limits on labor activism just before the 2008 presidential campaign. The justices accepted an appeal from the state of Washington that involves fees paid to the Washington Education Association by teachers who declined to join the union. Those workers still can be charged dues by the union to help pay for labor negotiations that affect them. But they can't be forced to pay for the union's political activism, under a string of Supreme Court rulings that reach back nearly 30 years.

Supreme court rules on retaliation

Source: Joanna L. Grossman, Deborah Brake, FindLaw
Date: July 11, 2006

In Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Company, the Supreme Court reinforced Title VII's ban on retaliation against employees who complain about, or cooperate in the investigation of, unlawful employment discrimination. The Court adopted a new test to determine whether a retaliatory act is actionable: "[A] plaintiff must show that a reasonable employee would have found the challenged action materially adverse, which in this context means it might well have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination." This test could prove to be a valuable weapon in the anti-discrimination arsenal, but only if courts take into account the reality of retaliation and how little it takes to deter a victimized employee from asserting her rights.

In the workplace, little things mean a lot

Source: Charlotte Fishman, Women's eNews
Date: July 5, 2006

The wait for the June 22 Supreme Court decision in the case of a female forklift operator who suffered retaliation after she complained of sexual harassment was white-knuckle time for lawyers who represent women fighting gender discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination is a complex phenomenon and we know that the glass ceiling for women is held in place as much by micro-iniquities as it is by disparate treatment with clear economic consequences. In the workplace, as in life, even little things can mean a lot.

High court eases path for workers' discrimination suits

Source: Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor
Date: June 22, 2006

The US Supreme Court has made it easier for workers to sue their bosses for acts of retaliation in the workplace. In a unanimous decision, the high court established a relatively broad standard empowering employees to take their supervisors to court if they retaliate after the worker has complained about illegal discrimination. The question before the court was how serious must retaliation be to qualify as an unlawful employment practice under the civil rights law? Must an employee face a sanction as serious as losing [a] job? Or would any adverse action by management that might prevent a worker from speaking up about discrimination qualify as illegal retaliation? Federal appeals courts across the country have provided vastly different answers to the same questions. The Supreme Court set a single standard.

Court expands right to sue over wrongs at work

Source: Charles Lane, Washington Post
Date: June 22, 2006

The Supreme Court made it easier for workers in most parts of the country to sue employers for retaliating against them when they complain about sexual harassment or other discrimination. The court ruled that employees may collect damages, even in some cases where the punishment did not involve getting fired or losing wages. The decision expands the legal rights of millions of workers who are covered by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the main federal law against job discrimination, and their employers. By setting a single national rule to define what constitutes retaliation, the court brought a measure of clarity to an area of law that generates thousands of cases per year, but had produced conflicting interpretations of Title VII in the lower courts.

Supreme Court ruling could affect SOX whistleblower provisions

Source: AccountingWEB
Date: June 8, 2006

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding a public sector whistleblower has employment practice attorneys fretting about how the courts will interpret the Sarbanes Oxley accounting reform law's provisions for whistleblowers in the private sector. In a switch from previous court rulings favorable to people who let the public know about workplace wrongdoing and inefficiency, the Supreme Court in Garcetti v. Ceballos held that statements made by public employees in the course of performing their job duties are not protected by the First Amendment. Sarbanes-Oxley protects employees who disclose to a supervisor what they reasonably believe to be violations of federal laws relating to fraud against shareholders, but it does not specify whether the reporting is protected if it is a normal part of the employee's job.

Mohawk RICO ruling on hold

Source: Marilyn Geewax, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Date: June 6, 2006

The Supreme Court said Monday that a lower court should reconsider whether workers can use a federal racketeering law to sue a Georgia carpet maker for hiring illegal immigrants. Last June, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that Mohawk Industries could be sued under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. That scared business groups, which feared the ruling could open a flood of similar suits. Now Mohawk will get a second chance to try to persuade the appeals court to dismiss a class-action suit filed by current and former workers. Those workers say that by hiring thousands of illegal immigrants, the company violated RICO. That federal law, enacted in 1970 to fight organized crime, allows victims to collect triple damages, plus attorney fees.

A free-speech puzzle

Source: Editorial, Washington Post
Date: June 5, 2006

If Richard Ceballos's allegations are true, some law should protect him. If his case, decided last week by a 5 to 4 vote at the Supreme Court, asked merely whether whistleblowers need strong legal protections, it would have been an easy one. But the case presents a far more difficult puzzle: whether the First Amendment right to free speech protects Mr. Ceballos's on-the-job expressions. The court ruled that it does not. On balance, we think that's right. The First Amendment seems a bad fit for shielding intragovernmental debate. Protecting people like Mr. Ceballos should be the province of whistle-blower protection laws, which need to be strong enough to prevent retaliations of the sort he claims.

Justices to rule on punitive damages

Source: Charles Lane, Washington Post
Date: May 31, 2006

The Supreme Court re-entered the national debate over tort reform yesterday, announcing that it would rule on the constitutionality of an Oregon jury's decision to assess Philip Morris tens of millions of dollars for civil fraud related to its past promotion of cigarette smoking. The case, which will be argued in the court term that begins in October and decided by July 2007, gives the court a chance to update its recent decisions seeking to rein in jury awards. It is a subject on which the court has been closely divided. At issue is the relationship between compensatory damages, which juries give victims to make up for the pain, suffering or death caused by corporate misconduct, and punitive damages, which juries assess to condemn and deter that misconduct.

High Court limits whistleblower lawsuits

Source: Gina Holland, Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: May 30, 2006

The Supreme Court on Tuesday made it harder for government employees to claim they were retaliated against for going public with allegations of official misconduct. By a 5-4 vote, justices said the nation's 20 million public employees do not have carte blanche free speech rights to disclose government's inner-workings. New Justice Samuel Alito cast the tie-breaking vote. The ruling sided with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, which appealed an appellate court ruling which held that prosecutor Richard Ceballos was constitutionally protected when he wrote a memo questioning whether a county sheriff's deputy had lied in a search warrant affidavit. Ceballos had filed a lawsuit claiming he was demoted and denied a promotion for trying to expose the lie.

Court to hear appeal over illegal workers

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: April 26, 2006

As the fight over rewriting immigration law heats up, corporations are coming under fire for using recruiters to find and hire workers who are in the United States illegally. The allegations against corporations will figure prominently in arguments before the Supreme Court when justices hear an appeal Wednesday by a company accused by current and former employees of hiring hundreds of illegal immigrants to suppress wages. Justices are being asked to decide whether corporations can be sued under civil provisions of a federal law originally designed to fight organized crime. The key question is whether a corporation that contracts out a service, such as recruiting, can be part of an illegal "enterprise" under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970.

Court notes hardship but has worries in worker's bias case

Source: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times
Date: April 18, 2006

Several Supreme Court justices expressed sympathy Monday for a railroad yard worker who was transferred to a harder job and then suspended without pay during the Christmas season after she accused her supervisor of sexually harassing her. The justices were being asked to set the legal standard for evaluating the seriousness of changes in employment made by supervisors who might be angry over a worker's discrimination complaint. In his questioning, [Justice Antonin] Scalia appeared to be trying to find a way to rule in [the worker's] favor, while protecting employers from what already is an explosion in the number of retaliation complaints filed by workers.

Court weighs discrimination retaliation

Source: Toni Locy, Associated Press, Washington Post
Date: April 17, 2006

The Supreme Court grappled Monday with the growing problem of employers retaliating in the workplace after an employee complains of sex or race discrimination. Several justices were sympathetic to the plight of railroad forklift operator Sheila White, who was suspended without pay for 37 days in 1997 after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. But the conservative trio of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito voiced concern about what legal standard should be used to evaluate the seriousness of changes in employment made by supervisors who may be angry over a worker's discrimination complaint.

Court considers whistleblower lawsuits

Source: Toni Locy, Associated Press, Washington Post
Date: March 21, 2006

The Supreme Court on Tuesday debated whether government employees have free-speech rights that protect them while they are carrying out their duties. The case involves Richard Ceballos, a Los Angeles prosecutor who was demoted after he urged his supervisors to drop a criminal case because he believed a sheriff's deputy had lied in a search warrant affidavit. A ruling against Ceballos could affect the nation's 20 million public employees by removing their ability to use the First Amendment as protection against supervisors' retaliation for bringing government misconduct or other issues to light. At issue is whether employers' desires to operate efficient workplaces outweigh whistleblowers' rights as citizens to speak out on matters of public interest.

Court weighs speech rights of public workers

Source: Bill Mears, CNN.com
Date: March 20, 2006

Richard Ceballos says he was only doing his job, and was punished by his superiors as a result. As a prosecutor in the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, Ceballos aggressively pursued allegations that a law enforcement officer had lied to obtain a search warrant. That started a contentious chain of events that has led all the way to the Supreme Court. Claims that public employees who face retaliation for whistle-blowing deserve free speech protection will get another hearing before the justices Tuesday. The case earlier appeared to deeply divide the court. At issue is what constitutional guarantees government workers deserve in speech done as a routine part of their jobs.

'Boy' could be a racial slur, says high court

Source: Gina Holland, Chicago Sun-Times
Date: February 22, 2006

The Supreme Court unanimously overturned an appeals court decision that the term "boy" alone was not evidence of workplace discrimination and ordered the court to reconsider the matter. The decision, one of the first actions with new Justice Samuel Alito, is a loss for Tyson Foods, which was sued by two longtime black employees who claimed they were passed over for promotions by a white manager who called them "boys." In sending the case back to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the high court said: "Although it is true the disputed word will not always be evidence of racial animus, it does not follow that the term, standing alone, is always benign."

Illegal labor could cost firms in court

Source: Dianne Solis, Dallas Morning News
Date: February 14, 2006

Employers who hire illegal immigrants to depress wages have something new to fear: employees who use racketeering laws to take them to court. A law originally conceived to hammer the Mafia--the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute--is now being swung against employers at chicken-plucking plants, apple orchards and janitorial firms. In April, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear a Georgia racketeering case involving carpet giant Mohawk Industries. The case is being closely watched by many employment law specialists because it could trigger a rash of costly suits against businesses that depend on illegal labor.

Supreme Court rejects CIA officer's appeal

Source: Gina Holland, Washington Post
Date: January 9, 2006

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal on Monday from a former covert CIA officer who accused the agency of race discrimination. Jeffrey Sterling, who is black, had sued the CIA's director and 10 employees. A judge dismissed the case on grounds that the litigation would require the disclosure of highly classified information. Justices refused without comment to consider reinstating Sterling's lawsuit. The 4th Circuit had upheld the dismissal of his lawsuit last year, saying that "there is no way for Sterling to prove employment discrimination without exposing at least some classified details of the covert employment that gives context to his claim."

Court to rule on what constitutes employer retaliation

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: December 6, 2005

For more than 40 years, federal law has prohibited employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination on the job. But neither Congress, which included the anti-retaliation protection in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, nor the Supreme Court has ever defined "retaliation." The issue, which has arisen in every federal appellate circuit, is one of increasing importance in labor law, because retaliation complaints account for the fastest-growing type of discrimination case. More than a quarter of all discrimination cases filed with the EEOC, some 20,000 cases in 2004, allege retaliation.

Court to hear sexual harassment case

Source: Toni Locy, Associated Press, Washington Post
Date: December 5, 2005

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide how much authority employers have in transferring workers who claim discrimination, a case with potentially costly implications for businesses. The court is being asked to determine what constitutes "materially adverse" changes in employment and whether employers can be found liable for retaliation if they transfer workers who have lodged complaints to jobs with similar pay scales and descriptions. Businesses say employee lawsuits alleging retaliation for transfers are becoming more prevalent. They say if the high court sides with workers it will mean even more litigation.

Justices back paying workers as they suit up

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: November 8, 2005

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that companies must pay plant workers for the time it takes to change into protective clothing and safety gear and walk to their work stations. In a defeat for business, the court said that employers must pay wages for the donning of "integral" gear and the time it takes workers to then walk to the production area. The court upheld a decision of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of workers at a meat processing plant in Pasco, Wash. The case was the first appeal argued this term, and the first in which [John] Roberts was presiding.

Supreme Court lets stand win in transsexual officer's lawsuit

Source: Gina Holland, Cincinnati Enquirer
Date: November 8, 2005

The Supreme Court refused to consider shielding employers from discrimination lawsuits by transsexuals, dodging a workplace rights fight. The refusal leaves in place a victory for Cincinnati [police] officer Philecia Barnes, born Phillip Barnes. Had the court agreed to hear the case, arguments would have been set for spring, in time for two justices named by President Bush to weigh in. At issue was the scope of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protects people from sex or race discrimination. Sexual orientation is not covered in the law, but justices were asked to deal with a related issue: sex stereotyping of transsexual workers.

High court considers L.A. case on free speech

Source: David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
Date: October 13, 2005

The Supreme Court took up the case of a Los Angeles County prosecutor Wednesday to decide whether the nation's 21 million public employees have a 1st Amendment right to speak out about problems that arise on the job. In the past, the high court has said that teachers and other public employees have a right as citizens to speak in public on a "matter of public concern." Under that ruling, the employees cannot be fired or punished by employers who are unhappy with what they said. However, the justices have also said that government workers who speak out on internal workplace disputes are not protected by the 1st Amendment. The case of Garcetti vs. Ceballos falls somewhere in between.

Court hears Pasco wage case

Source: Les Blumenthal, The News Tribune
Date: October 4, 2005

John Roberts' first case as chief justice of the Supreme Court involves workers' wages at an Eastern Washington meat processing plant. [The] case focuses on whether 800 workers should be paid for the three minutes it takes to walk to the production line from a locker room where they put on required protective clothing. A district court judge awarded more than $3 million to the workers who brought the class-action lawsuit. The workers claimed [the company] violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and Washington state law by not paying them for the time it took to dress in safety gear and walk to the production line. The company argued that the 1947 Portal-to-Portal Act required only that they start paying the workers when they arrived at their actual work stations.

Policies on age bias should be reviewed

Source: Linda McGill, Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram
Date: June 3, 2005

Older workers make up a significant and productive part of the labor force, especially in Maine. Most companies in the state that employ people older than 40 have a sound discrimination policy. A recent Supreme Court decision, however, broadened the parameters for age discrimination lawsuits throughout the United States, and as a result, Maine employers would be wise to review their discrimination policies. In short, the new ruling affects almost every Maine business that has one or more employees. Apart from the incentive of avoiding a lawsuit, Maine employers who audit their workplaces to avoid potential age discrimination claims are making a sound investment in productivity.

He blew Title IX whistle

Source: Eric Fleischauer, Decatur Daily
Date: April 9, 2005

When the American Association of University Women asked Roderick Jackson to speak at its state convention, he was a man from Birmingham with a temporary coaching job and an unsuccessful employment claim. When he spoke Friday in Decatur, however, Jackson was the man who persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to make one of the most important civil rights decisions of the decade. Its ruling protects whistleblowers who complain of school discrimination, even if they are not students. Legal experts believe the decision will have a dramatic impact not just on school discrimination issues, but also on many civil-rights claims where Congress did not specifically protect whistleblowers.

Older workers find a friend in court

Source: Ruben Navarrette, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: April 6, 2005

It was easy to miss with so much else happening in the world, but there was a hugely important decision last week by the U.S. Supreme Court involving older workers and how they're treated on the job. The justices made it easier for workers age 40 and older to sue employers for age discrimination, even if the workers can't prove that the employer deliberately intended to discriminate. All that is needed for proof, the court said, is that a given policy, requirement or practice in the workplace has an "adverse impact" on older workers. It's an important decision because, with 75.8 million Americans now 40 and older, more than half of the nation's workforce is affected.

Supreme Court ruling bars creditors from I.R.A. assets

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: April 5, 2005

A unanimous Supreme Court on Monday ruled that federal bankruptcy law shields individual retirement accounts from creditors. The decision gives middle-income consumers, for whom an I.R.A. is often the most significant retirement asset, the same protection in bankruptcy that higher-paid workers receive for their 401(k) plans and company pensions. The decision will have only limited importance if the current bankruptcy bill becomes law. The bill, which passed the Senate last month and will be taken up later this week in the House, generally makes federal bankruptcy law less protective of consumers. But it does contain a provision that generally addresses "protection of retirement savings in bankruptcy," which includes I.R.A.'s.

Mixed message on age bias

Source: Andrea Coombes, MarketWatch, Daily News
Date: April 4, 2005

Age discrimination in the workplace may be easier to fight thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court decision last week, but the ruling isn't likely to impel a slew of older Americans to file lawsuits. In part, that's because the decision doesn't affect the discrimination older workers most often face, such as disparaging remarks about age or being summarily fired after 30 years on the job. The decision doesn't touch on those cases but on situations where a company policy affects older workers or job seekers differently than it does younger workers, such as a mass layoff or a hiring policy. Victims in such cases no longer need to prove the company intended harm, just that the policy did harm--or, in legalese, had a "disparate impact" on--a group of older workers.

Path eased for age discrimination lawsuits

Source: David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
Date: March 30, 2005

Older workers can go to court to challenge an employer's policies or job requirements that have an adverse impact on them, the Supreme Court ruled, even when they have no evidence that the employer intended to discriminate against them. The 5-3 ruling expands the reach of federal law against age discrimination because it opens the door to lawsuits involving pay policies or layoff rules that do not mention the age of the employees. Until now, the high court had said older workers must show "intentional discrimination" by their employer to win a claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. What was unclear was whether older workers could also win a lawsuit by showing that the employer's policies had an "adverse impact" on them.

Supreme Court removes hurdle to age bias suits

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: March 31, 2005

Workers who sue their employers for age discrimination need not prove that the discrimination was intentional, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday. Adopting a pro-worker interpretation of the federal law that prohibits age discrimination in employment, the 5-to-3 decision held that employees can prevail by showing that a policy has a discriminatory impact on older workers, regardless of the employer's motivation. The decision removed the requirement, imposed by a number of lower federal courts, that employees produce the equivalent of a smoking gun in order to win an age discrimination suit. The decision did not leave employers defenseless. They will be able to defend themselves by proving that a challenged policy was based on "reasonable factors other than age."

Threshold eased for age-bias lawsuits

Source: Charles Lane, Washington Post
Date: March 31, 2005

The Supreme Court made it easier to sue for age discrimination on the job yesterday, ruling that older workers may take their employers to federal court even in cases in which the alleged adverse impact on them was not intentional. A five-justice majority said the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects all workers older than 40, permits a limited range of "disparate impact" lawsuits, or claims that older workers are disproportionately harmed by policies an employer applies to its entire workforce. Such claims, which have long been permitted for racial discrimination but which had been frowned upon by most federal appeals courts in the context of age, are generally easier to prove than charges of intentional discrimination, legal analysts said.

Age-bias landscape shifts

Source: Barbara Rose, Chicago Tribune
Date: March 31, 2005

Wednesday's Supreme Court decision--which allows older workers to hold employers liable for decisions that adversely affect them regardless of whether the employer intended to treat them differently--changes this legal landscape for older workers in Illinois and many other states. Even though the court found employers can defend their decisions by citing "reasonable" needs such as cost-cutting, attorneys said the decision would make it easier to file claims under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. But such claims still will be hard to win, they said. The ruling comes at a time when the workforce is rapidly aging. About 75 million employees are 40 or older, the threshold for protection under the act. By 2010, such workers will be a majority.

Justices rule for over-40 workers

Source: Joan Biskupic, USA Today
Date: March 30, 2005

Older workers can sue over pay or benefit plans that favor younger employees, even if no evidence of deliberate age discrimination exists, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in a decision that could have a major effect on the nation's workforce. By a 5-3 vote, the court ruled that in addition to covering intentional bias, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act covers workplace practices that appear neutral but disproportionately affect workers over age 40. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in the leading opinion that the law was concerned with the "effects" an employer's action had on a worker in addition to the employer's motivation. At the same time, however, the court limited an employer's liability for such "disparate impact" claims.

In case of a male coach, court adds teeth to gender-bias law

Source: Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor
Date: March 30, 2005

A man who lost his coaching job after complaining that his girls' team was being treated like second-class citizens may claim the protections of a 1972 gender-bias law to get his job back. Coach Roderick Jackson sued the Birmingham, Ala. Board of Education, saying the school district violated Title IX in taking retaliatory action against him. A federal judge and federal appeals court panel threw out the suit. But Tuesday the Supreme Court reinstated his lawsuit, saying his firing amounts to a form of gender discrimination under Title IX. Tuesday's 5-to-4 ruling is important because it will make it easier to fight gender bias by empowering coaches, friends, and others familiar with ongoing discrimination to file suit.

High Court supports Title IX protection

Source: Charles Lane, Washington Post
Date: March 30, 2005

The Supreme Court toughened a federal law against sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs yesterday, ruling that it prohibits not only unequal treatment of girls and women at school, but also official retaliation against anyone--male or female--who blows the whistle on unequal treatment. By a vote of 5 to 4, the court ruled that the federal law, known since its adoption in 1972 as Title IX, authorizes a federal lawsuit by Roderick Jackson, a girls' basketball coach in Birmingham who says he was fired in 2001 for complaining that boys' teams were receiving better equipment and practice facilities. The court's decision strengthens enforcement of Title IX at a time when the politics of the law are becoming more heated.

Justices say law on sex bias guards against retaliation, too

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: March 30, 2005

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the federal law barring sex discrimination in schools and colleges also prohibits school officials from retaliating against those who bring sex discrimination complaints. The 5-to-4 ruling resolved conflicting interpretations in the lower courts over the scope of the law, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The plaintiff in this case was a male gym teacher, Roderick Jackson, who lost his position as a girls' basketball coach at a high school in Birmingham, Ala., after he complained that the girls' team had to play and practice under inferior conditions compared with the boys' team.

Court declines to review immigrant case

Source: Hope Yen, Associated Press, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Date: March 7, 2005

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider whether an employer can inquire about the immigration status of a group of Latina and Southeast Asian women who are suing the company for job discrimination. Justices let stand a lower court ruling that said NIBCO Inc.'s questions during the early stages of the lawsuit were irrelevant to the issue of whether the company violated the Title VII federal law barring discrimination based on national origin. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in an opinion by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, noted that there are 5.3 million undocumented workers in the country, many of whom are reluctant to report discriminatory employment practices. "Granting employers the right to inquire into workers' immigration status in cases like this would allow them to raise implicitly the threat of deportation and criminal prosecution every time a worker, documented or undocumented, reports illegal practices or files a Title VII action," Reinhardt wrote.

High court declines to review immigrant lawsuit case

Source: Associated Press, kesq.com
Date: March 8, 2005

The US Supreme Court is declining to consider whether an employer can inquire about the immigration status of a group of Latina and Southeast Asian women who are suing the company for job discrimination. Justices let stand today a lower court ruling that said NIBCO's questions during the early stages of the lawsuit were irrelevant to the issue of whether the company violated the Title Seven federal law barring discrimination based on national origin. Immigrant workers, formerly employed at NIBCO's Fresno (California) plant, sued the pipe and valve maker for discrimination after it required them to take a job skills test administered only in English. After performing poorly, the workers were demoted, transferred and eventually fired in 1998.

Justices back full taxation of awards

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: January 25, 2005

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the full amount of a court award or legal settlement is taxable to the successful plaintiff, even if a sizable portion goes directly to a lawyer under a contingent fee agreement. Acting on government appeals in two cases, the justices voted 8 to 0, with the ailing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist not participating, to overturn decisions by the federal appeals courts in San Francisco and Cincinnati. Shortly before the cases were argued in November, Congress changed the tax law in favor of a subcategory of lawsuit-winning taxpayers. Under that law, the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, taxpayers can deduct lawyers' fees and court costs "in connection with any action involving a claim of unlawful discrimination."

Lawsuit winners lose the tax battle

Source: David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
Date: January 25, 2005

The winners of big lawsuits may find themselves losers at tax time, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling. The justices, agreeing with the Internal Revenue Service, ruled that all the money plaintiffs won in lawsuits must be included in their gross incomes, even if a large portion of it went to lawyers. In a unanimous decision, the justices reversed the rulings of two lower courts, including the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had held that plaintiffs should pay taxes on the amounts they received after subtracting lawyers' fees. In his opinion for the court, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy acknowledged the ruling could "lead to the perverse result that the plaintiff loses money by winning the suit."

Retaliation at issue in discrimination case

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: December 1, 2004

The law known as Title IX has expanded opportunities for women and girls in sports and other activities by prohibiting sex discrimination in schools and colleges that receive federal money. The questions for the Supreme Court Tuesday were whether Title IX also protects those who complain about sex discrimination from retaliation. The case was brought by the coach of a girls' basketball team at a high school in Birmingham, Ala., who complained that the school gave the boys' team favored conditions for playing and practice. The coach lost his position, along with the extra pay it carried. He brought a lawsuit under Title IX accusing the Birmingham school board of improperly retaliating against him.

Protecting the whistle-blower

Source: New York Times
Date: November 30, 2004

The Supreme Court hears arguments today in a case that raises important issues about who is covered by antidiscrimination law. An Alabama girls' basketball coach lost his position in 2001 after complaining that his team was being discriminated against. He sued under Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools receiving federal funds. The school argued, in response, that the coach was not part of the class that Congress intended to protect with the law. The court should hold that he is covered by Title IX, because he is alleging that he lost his position as a result of sex discrimination.


Source: Jay Reeves, Associated Press, Star-Telegram
Date: November 29, 2004

It didn't take long for coach Roderick Jackson to get tired of his girls basketball team practicing in the grimy little gym at Ensley High School, while the boys worked out in the nicer, newer one. Jackson complained, and, he says, was temporarily removed as coach for griping. He sued the Birmingham Board of Education under the landmark Title IX law, which bars discrimination in schools, but lower federal courts ruled against him. Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear Jackson's case--a dispute asking whether Title IX protects people who blow the whistle on gender bias, regardless of their sex.

Accidental age discrimination?

Source: Joanna Grossman, FindLaw
Date: November 16, 2004

Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Smith v. City of Jackson. The issue the case raises is whether "disparate impact" is a viable theory of discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA, enacted by Congress in 1967, protects workers 40 and older against discrimination on the basis of age. Intentional discrimination--that is, disparate treatment on the basis of age--is plainly covered. But what about "disparate impact" age discrimination--which occurs when a particular policy happens to more heavily hurt older workers? Is such a practice also covered by the statute? That is what the court must now decide.

Age bias case hits home with high court

Source: Bonnie Erbe, Journal Gazette
Date: November 10, 2004

Sometime next year, the Supreme Court justices (average age: 70) will rule on an age discrimination case that stands to make even this conservative-leaning court appear rather bleeding-hearted liberal. The justices heard arguments in a case last week weighing how much protection from job bias older workers are entitled to under law. If the plaintiffs succeed, analysts foresee a flood of lawsuits anytime layoffs or cutbacks disproportionately affect older workers. If indeed the justices rule in favor of the [plaintiffs], it shows the value of understanding where an aggrieved party is "coming from." This is a court that has less sympathy for race and gender bias claims, but seems to completely "get it" when it comes to claims of age discrimination.

Coach humbled by attention over Title IX

Source: Jeffrey McMurray, Associated Press, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Date: November 8, 2004

An Alabama high school coach says he was just trying to get equality for his girls' basketball team when he complained about its treatment. His legal battle to regain his job will reach the Supreme Court at the end of the month. Even more than getting his job back permanently or any back salary or benefits, Roderick Jackson said Monday he wants to reclaim his reputation. Jackson's lawyers will try to convince the high court Nov. 30 that he has a right to sue under Title IX, the 1972 federal law that bars sexual discrimination in college and high school athletics programs that receive federal money. Marcia D. Greenberger, one of two lawyers representing Jackson, said the case was critical because teachers and administrators raise a large majority of Title IX cases.

Supreme Court weighs older workers' rights

Source: Associated Press, MSNBC.com
Date: November 3, 2004

Note to lawyers: It's probably best not to bring up the infirmities of the elderly when arguing an age discrimination case before the white-haired members of the Supreme Court. Attorney Glen Nager tried it and got a cold reception Wednesday as justices debated standards for on-the-job age discrimination lawsuits. The stakes in the case are huge for businesses, because a loss in the case would open them up to more lawsuits when layoffs or other cutbacks hurt older workers. It's clear that the law lets them sue employers and win if they can prove they were targeted for a firing, demotion or other employment action because of their age. At issue Wednesday was a more subtle form of discrimination--when job policies that appear neutral actually have a disproportionately harsh effect on older workers.

High court weighs rights of older workers

Source: Gina Holland, Associated Press, Boston Globe
Date: November 4, 2004

The Supreme Court debated yesterday how much protection from job bias older workers are entitled to, weighing a case that could set new standards for on-the-job age discrimination lawsuits. The case is particularly important because America's work force is aging. About half of all employees in the country--more than 70 million people--are over 40 and protected by a 1967 antidiscrimination law. At issue yesterday was a more subtle form of discrimination--when job policies that appear neutral actually have a disproportionately harsh effect on older workers. Some lower courts allow so-called disparate impact claims under the 1967 law. Others don't.

Stakes high in age-bias case before court

Source: Richard Willing, USA Today
Date: November 1, 2004

The police department in Jackson, Miss., was having trouble recruiting officers and dispatchers, so city leaders decided to offer more money. Beginning in 1998, entry level salaries were increased and pay raises were front-loaded so that newer officers received proportionately more than those with longer tenures. Jackson's veteran cops didn't like it. They filed a lawsuit that accused the city of age discrimination. On Wednesday, attorneys for the older officers will try to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that it is the results of the city's policy--and not its intentions--that prove age discrimination. It's a question the court has addressed with respect to race and sex discrimination, but never age.

State opposes coach in court

Source: Mary Orndorff, Birmingham News
Date: October 28, 2004

The state of Alabama has sided against a Birmingham girls' basketball coach who is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let him sue alleging retaliation for his complaints of discrimination against his team. Roderick Jackson says he lost his coaching job at Ensley High School in 2001 when he argued that the boys' teams were getting more resources and better equipment. Because Jackson is not the person who was discriminated against, his legal standing to file a Title IX case is in question. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case Nov. 30.

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