The first Monday in October traditionally marks the beginning of the United States Supreme Court’s yearly term – and it provides an excellent opportunity to look at the cases the Court will be hearing this year. In an earlier post, the World of Work brought you detailed discussion of the Court’s only Title VII case this term: Lewis v. City of Chicago. Here’s a sampling of other labor and employment-related cases to watch for throughout the term:
This morning, in Mohawk Industries, Inc. v. Carpenter, the Court will consider whether an employer’s attorney’s investigation of an internal complaint is protected by the attorney-client privilege. The internal complaint alleged that the company was conspiring to hire individuals who were not authorized to work in the United States. The case involves a former employee’s claim for witness tampering; a separate lawsuit involving the alleged conspiracy is proceeding on a separate track.
On October 7, the Court will hear a case involving the Railway Labor Act. The issue in Union Pacific Railroad Co. v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers is whether the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had the power to overturn, on due process grounds, an arbitration award in the railroad’s favor.
On October 14, in Perdue v. Kenny A., the Court will consider whether attorney fee awards under 42 USC 1988 can be enhanced when the lawyer does a particularly good job. Section 1988 is a common basis for fees in employment-related lawsuits.
On December 9, the Court will hear Stolt-Nielsen SA v. AnimalFeeds International. This case asks the Court to decide whether an employee bringing a claim under an arbitration agreement may sue, not only on his own behalf, but on behalf of a class of similarly situated employees. In this case, the arbitration agreement did not specifically allow class claims, but the arbitrators allowed those claims anyway.
Finally, on a date to be announced, the Court will hear Granite Rock Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters. This case again involves questions about arbitration. Here, the issue is whether an arbitrator (not a court) may decide whether a valid collective bargaining agreement exists.