U.S. Supreme Court Issues 3 New Decisions

June 20, 2008 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The first case, Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, involved an employer’s decision to lay off 31 employees, 30 of whom were age 40 or older. The workers sued, claiming the layoffs had a disparate impact on older workers in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The employer claimed it based its layoff decision on reasonable factors other than age, which is an affirmative defense under the ADEA. It also stated that the employees had earlier lost their case because they couldn’t show the factors were unreasonable. By a 7-1 vote, the justices said the employer — not the employees — had to prove that the non-age factors used in its decision were reasonable.

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Categories: U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Recognizes 2 New Retaliation Claims

May 27, 2008 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in separate decisions that retaliation is prohibited under two federal discrimination statutes that don’t clearly say so — 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and the federal-sector provisions of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries
In the first case, a Cracker Barrel assistant manager sued the employer for discrimination and retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, a post-Civil War era law that prohibits race discrimination in the making and enforcement of contracts. The employee’s retaliation claim was based on retaliatory actions he allegedly suffered after complaining that another employee had been subjected to race discrimination.

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Categories: U.S. Supreme Court

High Court Defines ‘Charge’ in Age Discrimination

February 27, 2008 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the definition of a “charge” of age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

Under the ADEA, an employee is required to file a “charge” with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before the dispute is escalated to court. But the term “charge” is not defined in the ADEA. Thus, the circuits have adopted various definitions, leading to extraordinary difficulty in determining when employees are entitled to file ADEA claims in court.

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Categories: U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Rules on ‘Me Too’ Evidence

February 26, 2008 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court has completed its review of a key Kansas age discrimination case, settling a split between federal courts on the admissibility of “me too” evidence.

“Me too” evidence is testimony by non-parties that alleges discrimination at the hands of persons who played no part in the challenged employment decision. In the present case, Ellen Mendelsohn, a 51-year-old unit manager with Sprint, alleged that the company fired her because of her age during a companywide reduction in force.

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Categories: Kansas / U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Expands ERISA Remedies

February 21, 2008 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

In a case that could have far-reaching consequences for employers and employees alike, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, February 20, 2008, that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) allows an employee to sue his employer because of a fiduciary breach that resulted in individual losses to his 401(k) plan.

James LaRue says he told his employer to change his investment allocations from mutual funds to cash and didn’t find out for 10 months that it didn’t follow his instructions. LaRue says that when he repeated his request, the employer again failed to do so. The result, according to LaRue, was that his plan assets were depleted by $150,000. He sued his employer under ERISA in an attempt to recover his losses.

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Categories: U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Hands Down Retaliation Decision

June 30, 2006 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

by Peter Panken

On June 22, the U.S. Supreme Court decided an employment retaliation case in which it held that any action by an employer against an employee, applicant, or even a former employee constitutes unlawful retaliation if the action would deter a reasonable employee from filing a discrimination charge against an employer.

Retaliation cases now make up 30 percent of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s docket and will increase substantially as a result of this decision. Moreover, employees now will want to get their cases before juries because they hope jurors will be so mad at the employer that they’ll award compensatory and punitive damages.

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U.S. Supreme Court Scrutinizes Racial Bias Ruling

March 03, 2006 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

After several years of employees being required to meet a very high standard to have their cases heard by a jury, that may be changing in the long term. The U.S. Supreme Court recently cautioned federal judges to be careful in the rules of evidence and legal standards for employment discrimination. The Court’s opinion offers employers guidance on the amount of evidence needed to prove racial bias and pretextual reasons for decisions.

The case, Ash v. Tyson Foods, Inc., involved two African-American employees passed over for promotion in favor of two Caucasian employees. Part of their proof of racial bias was evidence that the manager who made the promotion decision had referred to them as “boy.” The Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their argument, saying that use of the word “boy” by itself, with no racial adjectives modifying it, wasn’t evidence of discriminatory intent.

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