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Showing 15 posts in Supreme Court.

SCOTUS Aligns Application of Statute of Limitations in Constructive Discharge and Actual Discharge Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court held in Green v. Brennan that the statute of limitations for a constructive discharge begins to run on the date of resignation, not the date of the employer’s last discriminatory act, resolving a circuit split. As a result, in determining the deadline for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, constructive discharge cases will be treated the same way as actual discharge cases. More ›

Perception is Everything: Supreme Court Expands First Amendment Protections for Public Employees

In a decision that may expand the "zone of interest" protected by the First Amendment via 42 U.S.C. §1983, the Supreme Court in Heffernan v. City of Paterson, strengthened free speech rights for public employees by holding a public employee may bring a suit premised on his engagement in protected political activities, even when the employee did not engage in those activities, and the employer was mistaken in its belief that he had.

The Case

The city demoted a police officer (Heffernan) after it believed Heffernan was holding a campaign sign supporting a mayoral candidate and speaking to the candidate’s campaign staff. The demotion was intended as punishment for Heffernan's "overt involvement" in the campaign. However, the city was mistaken about his political activity, because Heffernan was only transporting the challenger's sign to his sick mother, at her request. More ›

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Employers Cannot Avoid Class Actions By Offering Complete Relief to Plaintiffs

In a 5-3 decision, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, holding that an unaccepted settlement offer or offer of judgment providing for an individual plaintiff complete relief does not moot a class action complaint, resolving a split among circuits. However, the Court limited its holding by declining to address “whether the result would be different if a defendant deposits the full amount of the plaintiff's individual claim in an account payable to the plaintiff, and the court then enters judgment for the plaintiff in that amount.” The Court’s dissenting opinions and concurring opinions suggest actual tender would moot the plaintiff’s claim. More ›

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Decision Finding that Contract Provides for Class Arbitration

One U.S. Supreme Court decision has not received great attention from the media, but it may have considerable impact on how employers structure their relationships with employees. In this instance, the issue is what authority does an arbitrator have to interpret contractual terms so as to provide for class arbitration. Justice Kagan, without dissent, explained that the Court viewed arbitration clauses that provide for all civil actions to be arbitrated as giving arbitrators the authority to find a contractual basis to support class arbitration. More ›

In Significant Title VII Harassment Decision, U.S. Supreme Court Limits Definition of “Supervisor”

An African-American female who served in a University's dining services division filed a complaint against the University alleging racial harassment and discrimination due to the actions of a white catering specialist who worked at the same location. The catering specialist did not direct the employee's day-to-day activities or have authority to hire, fire, demote or discipline the employee, but sometimes handed the employee her list of tasks and directed the employee in the kitchen. The employee alleged that the catering specialist was her supervisor and that the University was liable for the creation of a racially hostile work environment. More ›

Supreme Court: Proving Title VII Retaliation Claim Requires “But-For” Causation

Adding to a recent string of victories for employers, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 24, 2013, that claims for retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must be proved "according to traditional principles of but-for causation." More ›

Supreme Court Approves Class-Action Arbitration Waiver, Rejects Argument that Individuals Will Not Have Financial Incentive and Capacity to Prove Claims

In a significant victory for businesses and employers, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 20, 2013, that a class-action waiver in an arbitration agreement is valid and enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) even if the costs of prosecuting the claim on an individual basis are financially impracticable. The majority based its ruling on two findings: first, that the federal statute at issue did not expressly override the FAA’s preference for enforcing private arbitration agreements as written and, second, that the financial burdens imposed on individual claimants did not require application of the “effective vindication” rule, which permits courts to invalidate arbitration agreements that prevent a party from effectively pursuing a remedy provided by federal law. More ›

Plaintiff Can’t Avoid CAFA Removal by Stipulating to Damages Cap

A stipulation by a class-action plaintiff that he and the class will seek damages that are less than the threshold for jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) does not defeat federal jurisdiction under the Act. More ›

U.S. Supreme Court: State Court Should not have Ruled on Validity of Noncompete Clause; Issue Was for Arbitrator

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Oklahoma Supreme Court erroneously struck down a noncompete agreement, declaring it invalid under state law. The problem with the state court's decision, however, was that there was an arbitration agreement in the employer's employment agreements; thus, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the state court should have allowed an arbitrator to determine whether the non-compete was valid or not.   More ›

Illinois Supreme Court: Employer Liable for Third-Party Investigator’s Invasion of Former Employee’s Privacy

Based upon a recent decision by the Illinois Supreme Court, Illinois employers have an additional reason to be careful when investigating misconduct by current and former employees. In the case, Lawlor v. North American Corporation of Illinois, Case No. 112530 (Oct. 18, 2012), the State’s highest court for the first time upheld an award of significant damages to a former employee based on the former employer's invasion of her privacy during an investigation into her competitive behavior. The decision is even more significant because the defendant employer was actually held vicariously liable for intrusions committed by a third-party investigator, signaling to all employers the importance of having a policy in place for such investigations. More ›

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