Category: Supreme Court

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California Supreme Court Resolves Conflict Regarding California’s Background Check Laws

In Connor v. First Student, Inc., the California Supreme Court resolved a conflict in Court of Appeal decisions relating to the constitutionality of California’s background check laws. Employers frequently request background information from job applicants.  California has two primary laws regulating the collection and distribution of this background information:  the Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Determines that the Federal De Minimis Doctrine Does Not Apply to California Wage Claims

In Troester v. Starbucks Corp., the California Supreme Court determined that the federal de minimis doctrine does not apply to California wage claims.  While this ruling does not completely eviscerate this legal defense for California employers, it places a very high burden on employers who are brave enough to raise this defense in California courts. … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules Mandatory Union Fees for Public Sector Employees are Unconstitutional

In yet another significant victory for employers, the United States Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment prohibits public sector unions from collecting mandatory “agency fees” from non-union members who do not consent to the payment of fees.  The Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31 overturns prior precedent that allowed public sector … Continue Reading

Significant Victory for Employers: Supreme Court Upholds Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements

In a significant win for employers, the United States Supreme Court has issued a landmark decision upholding the use of class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements.  This ruling permits employers across the country to enforce individual arbitration agreements with employees, even where the agreement requires an employee to pursue legal claims on an individualized, … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Embraces New Employee-Friendly Worker Classification Standard

In Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Lee, the California Supreme Court created a new employee-friendly test for determining whether workers are properly classified as employees or independent contractors.  While providing a level of certainty lacking in the prior standard, the Court’s new test significantly increases the burden on California employers in demonstrating that their workers … Continue Reading

Landmark Seventh Circuit Decision Interprets Title VII Protections To Prohibit Sexual Orientation Discrimination

“Who will be hurt if gays and lesbians have a little more job protection?” Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals posed this question a few months ago during oral argument in a case involving a teacher who alleged she was fired because she is lesbian.  On Tuesday, the en banc Seventh … Continue Reading

Class Action Waivers in Employment Agreements Are No Longer Enforceable in the Ninth Circuit

If your company uses a class action waiver in your employment agreements and you are located in Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, the Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, or Washington, you are out of luck.  Thanks to a recent decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (which has jurisdiction over the aforementioned … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to Seattle minimum wage law

On May 2, 2016, The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the legal challenge to the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance’s impact on Seattle franchisees (IFA v. Seattle–denial of cert).  We have blogged about Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance (“Ordinance”) before. The Ordinance requires large businesses, defined as those with more than 500 employees, to raise the minimum … Continue Reading

Developments in Employee Benefits Law: Same-Sex Marriage and Title VII’s Protection for LGBT Employees

A number of recent legal changes will have a notable impact on employee benefits law both now and in the future.  Some of the most significant of those changes are the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, and the expansion of Title VII’s discrimination protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender … Continue Reading

Marriage Equality Is Nationwide

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court held that “[t]he right to marry is a fundamental inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.” This historic … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch: It’s All About the Motive

Stoel Rives Summer Associate Dexter Pearce co-authored this post. In a case Justice Antonin Scalia described as “really easy,” the Supreme Court held that an employer can be liable for failing to accommodate a religious practice even if the employer lacks actual knowledge of a need for an accommodation. Writing for the 8-to-1 majority (Justice … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Sends UPS Pregnancy Accommodation Case to Trial

The U.S. Supreme Court handed a defeat to United Parcel Service (UPS) this week. At issue was whether UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) by requiring a pregnant woman with lifting restrictions to go on leave during her pregnancy, while workers in certain other categories (such as those with on-the-job injuries) were allowed light … Continue Reading

US Supreme Court Gives Green Light For Employers To Use Offers Of Judgment To Moot FLSA Collective Actions

Today the US Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in Genesis Healthcare v. Symczk. In the case, the Court held that employers could effectively end collective action lawsuits under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by agreeing to pay the named plaintiffs in those lawsuits whatever they claim they are owed. The Court held that because the … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Swats Case Back To Arbitration

In a terse per curium opinion issued today in Nitro-Lift Technologies v. Howard, the U.S. Supreme Court sent a very clear reminder to lower courts, and especially state courts, that once arbitration agreements are found enforceable, arbitrators, and not judges, are to decide everything else in the case involving interpretation of an arbitration agreement.  In … Continue Reading

Stoel Rives Presents Webinar On Employer Group Health Plans After U.S. Supreme Court Decision Upholding “Obamacare”

As everyone who was not on Mars this summer knows, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a surprising and historic decision upholding key provisions of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act ("ACA").  To help employers navigate the requirements of the law now that it has the stamp of approval of the Supreme Court, and to provide other updates … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules Oral Complaints Of Wage Violations Are Protected Under FLSA

Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued another employee-friendly opinion in Kasten v. St. Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., holding by a 6-2 margin that the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") anti-retaliation provisions protect an employee’s oral complaints to supervisors about wage and hour violations. This is the latest of three opinions this term that have expanded the … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Upholds “Cat’s Paw” Theory In Employment Discrimination Cases

Today the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Staub v. Proctor Hospital, upholding the "cat’s paw" theory of employer liability, under which employers are liable for discrimination where lower-level supervisors with discriminatory motives influence, but do not make, adverse employment decisions made by higher-level managers.  The near unanimous opinion, authored by Justice Scalia, is likely to … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds Title VII Can Cover Third Party Retaliation Claims

The United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion today in Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP., 562 U.S. ___ (2011), that confirms the expansive scope of persons protected by Title VII. The Court held that it is unlawful for an employer to intentionally harm one employee in order to retaliate against another employee who engaged in … Continue Reading

Oregon Supreme Court Allows Greater Punitive Damage Award in Some Employment Cases

The Oregon Supreme Court has recognized an exception to limits on punitive damage awards in certain employment cases where the compensatory damages are low.  In Hamlin v. Hampton Lumber Mills, Inc., the Oregon Supreme Court considered the case of a plaintiff who was injured on the job and whose employer failed to reinstate him as required … Continue Reading

Supreme Court issues Favorable Ruling for Employers in Texting/Privacy Case

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court issued a long-anticipated decision in City of Ontario v. Quon, unanimously ruling that a search of sexually explicit personal text messages sent by a police officer using his department pager was reasonable and did not violate the individual officer’s privacy rights. At issue was the right of a government employer … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Invalidates Nearly 600 Decisions Made by Two-Member NLRB

This morning the United States Supreme Court issued a highly-anticipated decision in New Process Steel v. National Labor Relations Board, ruling 5-4 to effectively invalidate almost 600 decisions made by the NLRB during the time it only had two members.  Normally, the NLRB is comprised of five members, but typically delegates its powers to decide most cases … Continue Reading

Supreme Court: Disparate Impact Plaintiffs Can Sue Based on the Application of the Discriminatory Practice

The Supreme Court today issued a judicial smackdown to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, unanimously reversing its decision in Lewis v. City of Chicago (as we suggested it should when we reviewed the details of this case back in October!). Briefly put, the plaintiffs are a group of approximately 6,000 black firefighter applicants who filed … Continue Reading

Supreme Court To Decide Scope of Cat’s Paw in Employment Cases

  Yesterday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Staub v. Proctor Hospital to address the question of when an employer may be held liable in “cat’s paw” situations, where an employee with unlawful intent influences a decisionmaker but is not involved in making the ultimate employment decision. In this case the employee, Vincent Staub, was … Continue Reading
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