an update for the week of march 3, 2004
Each week, Workplace Week brings you news and commentary on critical issues affecting employees and advocates.

In this edition: reference check problems, and Supreme Court's "reverse age discrimination" decision.
today's workplace: the employee rights blog
References: What Is Your Former Employer Saying About You?: If you apply for a new job, chances are good that you will be asked to provide references from former employers. And while a reference may not mean what it used to, it still could mean the difference between getting a job and not getting a job. Some employers go too far, and say things that simply aren't true about former employees, while others don't go very far at all, as they have a company policy against disclosing anything about former employees except dates of employment. If you're looking for a new job, it pays to know the policy of your former employers, as two recent articles in the Christian Science Monitor highlight some of the problems employees face concerning references from their former employers.
this week in the courts
Kiely v. Heartland Rehab. Servs., Inc.  (Sixth Circuit; No. 02-2054)
Decision Date: February 26, 2004
In a disability discrimination case brought under Michigan law, the fact that plaintiff had signed a social security disability application in which he swore that he was "disabled" and "unable to work" did not preclude him as a matter of law from showing that he was capable of performing the essential functions of his job. His declarations of disability can be interpreted as context-related legal conclusions, rather than purely factual statements regarding inability to work.
Sellers v. Mineta  (Eighth Circuit; No. 02-1425)
Decision Date: February 24, 2004
In a Title VII case, a discharged employee's post-termination conduct is relevant in determining whether a front pay award is available and in determining the extent of any award. Employer bears the burden of proving that plaintiff's post-termination conduct precluded re-employment; remanded for further proceedings on this issue.
Gen. Dynamics Land Sys., Inc. v. Cline  (U.S. Supreme Court; No. 02-1080)
Decision Date: February 24, 2004
The ADEA's text, structure, purpose, history, and relationship to other federal statutes show that the statute does not mean to stop an employer from favoring an older employee over a younger one. Thus, it does not protect plaintiffs-employees, all between 40 and 50 years old, who were denied health benefits under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.
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