Senate confirms ‘proemployer’ Gorsuch to Supreme Court

April 07, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. Because Gorsuch is known for adhering to the letter of the law, his confirmation likely is good news for employers, experts say.

Democrats initially filibustered Gorsuch’s confirmation, but Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” and changed the Senate rules to allow them to break filibusters of Supreme Court nominees with only 51 votes. Previously, that required 60 votes. On April 7, the Senate confirmed Gorsuch 54-45.

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In ‘landmark’ ruling, appeals court says sexual orientation discrimination is illegal

April 06, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, a federal appeals court ruled for the first time on April 4.

With its “landmark” ruling, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upended three decades of precedent and set up the issue for review by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Steven L. Brenneman, a partner with Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP, and an editor of Illinois Employment Law Letter.

The decision applies only in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, but Brent E. Siler, an attorney at Butler Snow in Memphis and a contributor to Tennessee Employment Law Letter, said its effect reaches far beyond those three states. The ruling, combined with the federal government’s position on the issue, means employers must ensure they do not discriminate based on sexual orientation, Siler added.

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Supreme Court’s action on transgender rights keeps employers watching

March 07, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement that it has decided not to hear arguments in a case regarding restroom access for transgender students doesn’t directly affect employment, but it puts employers on notice to keep up with developments that could affect the workplace.

On March 6, the Court announced that it is sending back to a lower court the case of a transgender boy suing a Virginia school district in an effort to be allowed to use the boys’ restroom. The Court had been scheduled to hear arguments in the case later this month. But on February 22, the Trump administration revoked guidelines released by the Obama administration advising public schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

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SCOTUS nominee ‘excellent’ choice for employers

February 01, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court’s vacant seat may be good news for employers, according to employment law attorneys.

Gorsuch is known for adhering to the letter of the law, which means he won’t create any new rights through judicial activism, according to John Husband, a senior partner at Holland & Hart in the judge’s hometown of Denver.

Trump announced his pick January 31, calling Gorsuch “a man who our country really needs—and needs badly—to ensure the rule of law and the rule of justice.”

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Supreme Court will consider class action waivers

January 20, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a trio of wage and hour cases involving arbitration agreements that require workers to waive their right to pursue employment claims as a group.

In recent years, the validity of such waivers has divided federal appeals courts and drawn the attention of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The Board has held several times that even though federal law allows employers to adopt mandatory arbitration agreements, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) grants workers the nonwaivable right to pursue claims on a class or collective basis.

The NLRB first reached that conclusion in 2012, holding that an employer’s arbitration agreement violated the NLRA because it required employees to agree to dispute claims individually. The employer appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed the Board’s ruling. D.R. Horton, Inc. v. NLRB, 737 F.3d 344 (5th Cir., 2013).

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With Trump win, many employment initiatives in question

November 09, 2016 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

Recent employment initiatives undertaken by the Obama administration could be in jeopardy under Donald Trump’s presidency, but employers still need to comply with those laws and regulations for now, says one expert.

“In general, things are going to be pretty unpredictable,” said Connor Beatty, an associate with Brann & Isaacson  in Maine and editor of Maine Employment Law Letter. Not only has Trump never held public office, but he’s also changed his position on issues several times, Beatty said.

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Transgender bathroom case makes it to Supreme Court

by Rachael L. Loughlin

On October 28, 2016, the Supreme Court granted the request of the School Board of Gloucester County to consider whether the Court should overturn a decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fourth Circuit ordered the School Board to allow Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, to use the boys’ restroom during his senior year of high school.

By now, most HR professionals are aware of the ongoing debate as to what restrooms should be available to transgender individuals. Though individual cases are popping up all over the country, none has captured public attention like the case of transgender Gloucester High School student, Gavin Grimm. Grimm is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and his lawsuit contends that the School Board’s restroom policy requiring students to use the restroom matching their physical gender, is discriminatory and violates Title IX of the federal education code, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

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Ruling gives employees more time to file constructive discharge claims

May 24, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

A May 23 U.S. Supreme Court ruling clears up questions about how long employees have to file constructive discharge claims, and the decision likely means more pressure for employers potentially facing such lawsuits.

In Green v. Brennan, the Court ruled 7-1 that a U.S. Postal Service employee in Englewood, Colorado, filed a constructive discharge claim within the time period allowed for such claims. The employer had maintained that the claim came too late, and the lower courts agreed.

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Compulsory public-sector union dues survive deadlocked Supreme Court

March 29, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A 4-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a closely watched case on public-sector unions leaves previous legal precedent intact, effectively sealing a union victory.

On March 29, the evenly split Court issued a one-sentence ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association that allows the decision of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stand. If not for the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, the ruling may have gone the other way.

“With Justice Scalia’s death, public-sector unions dodged not just a bullet but a cannonball,” Jeffrey Sloan, an attorney with Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP in San Francisco, said after the ruling was announced.

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Supreme Court ruling eases the way for certain class actions

March 22, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled March 22 that the use of statistical evidence to create a class action lawsuit against Tyson Foods was proper, an action that may make it easier for employees in certain situations to band together to sue their employers rather than suing as individuals.

The Court ruled 6-2 in Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo that the lower court was correct in allowing employees to use a study performed by an industrial relations expert to establish a class of workers at a Tyson pork processing plant in Storm Lake, Iowa.

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