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  Elite Lawyers - Legal News

An Epic Supreme Court Decision on Employment

  Elite Lawyers  -   POSTED: 2018/05/23 12:48

False dichotomy, meretricious piety, and pay-no-attention-to-that-man-behind-the-curtain misdirection are vital arrows in the quiver of any lawyer or judge, no matter of what persuasion.

These tricks were on particularly egregious display in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, a 5-4 decision announced Monday in which the Supreme Court’s conservative majority continued its drive to narrow protection for employee rights. (The opinion, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito; the dissent, by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.)

The issue in Epic Systems was this: Can an employer require its employees, as a condition of keeping their jobs, to submit to individual arbitration of wage-and-hour and other workplace-condition claims—not only without an option to go to court, but without an option to pursue even private arbitration in common with other employees making the same claim?

Employees’ objection to a “no group arbitration” clause is that individual arbitration may concern amounts too small to make pursuing them worthwhile. Thus, these clauses make it easier for employers to maintain unfair or even unlawful employment structures and salary systems.

The question required the court to interpret two federal statutes—the Federal Arbitration Act (1925) and the National Labor Relations Act (1935). The FAA says that “a written provision in a contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce” requiring the parties to arbitrate instead of litigate disputes “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.

The NLRA provides that “employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.

Begin with text: the NLRA states that it is designed to counter “inequality of bargaining power between employees who do not possess full freedom of association or actual liberty of contract and employers who are organized in the corporate or other forms of ownership association.” There is no language like this in the FAA. The best histories of the FAA’s adoption suggest that it was designed to efficiently settle disputes among merchants—business interests with comparable bargaining power.

The Act itself says it should not be read to affect “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” The sponsors stated during deliberations that it was not designed to cover labor agreements.



Nevada prison officials got the go-ahead Thursday to execute the state's first death-row inmate in 12 years, after the state Supreme Court ruled that defense lawyers and a rights group used the wrong process to try to stop the lethal injection.

Justices sidestepped the question of whether the state should use a never-before-tried combination of drugs that prison officials drew up for the execution of Scott Raymond Dozier.
The protocol includes a powerful painkiller that is fueling much of the nation's opioid epidemic and a paralyzing drug that could mask any signs of trouble.

The American Civil Liberties Union argued the drug is not legal to use for euthanizing pets in Nevada.

"Although we recognize the importance of this matter, both to Dozier and the citizens of the State of Nevada, the fact that this case has serious implications was all the more reason to follow established rules and procedures," the court said.

The blunt and unanimous order came just two days after the seven justices heard oral arguments in Carson City.


Greece's highest court has imposed severe restrictions on the movements of one of eight Turkish servicemen who have applied for asylum in Greece after fleeing Turkey following a failed 2016 coup there, while he waits for a decision on his asylum application.

The Council of State ruled that the officer will remain at an undisclosed address, must appear daily at a local police station and cannot obtain travel documents until his asylum application is determined in May.

Courts had initially granted him asylum, but suspended the decision following a Greek government appeal.

The eight helicopter crewmen, who deny involvement in the attempted putsch, have become a bone of contention in increasingly souring Greek-Turkish relations. Turkey demands they be returned as coup plotters, but Greek courts have rejected the extradition requests.



The Supreme Court has already heard a major case about political line-drawing that has the potential to reshape American politics. Now, before even deciding that one, the court is taking up another similar case.

The arguments justices will hear Wednesday in the second case, a Republican challenge to a Democratic-leaning congressional district in Maryland, could offer fresh clues to what they are thinking about partisan gerrymandering, an increasingly hot topic before courts.

Decisions in the Maryland case and the earlier one from Wisconsin are expected by late June. The arguments come nearly six months after the court heard a dispute over Wisconsin legislative districts that Democrats claim were drawn to maximize Republican control in a state that is closely divided between the parties.

The Supreme Court has never thrown out electoral districts on partisan grounds and it’s not clear the justices will do so now. But supporters of limits on partisanship in redistricting are encouraged that the justices are considering two cases.

“In taking these two cases, the Supreme Court wants to say something about partisan gerrymandering. It’s clear the Supreme Court is not walking away from the issue,” said Michael Li, senior counsel at the New York University law school’s Brennan Center for Justice.

The justices’ involvement in partisan redistricting reflects a period of unusual activity in the courts on this topic. Over the past 16 months, courts struck down political districting plans drawn by Republicans in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Federal judges threw out a state legislative map in Wisconsin and a congressional plan in North Carolina. In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court invalidated the state’s congressional districts and replaced them with a court-drawn plan.




It doesn’t matter what type of work you do or where you work, there is always a risk of injuring yourself on the job. In Chicago, Illinois, there are many people who get hurt at their workplace and this comes to us with no surprise. If you are an Illinois worker who has been injured, or if you have gotten sick from doing your job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits or compensation through a third-party liability claim.

Work accidents can cause serious injuries and permanent damage. Some extremely serious work injuries can permanently hinder a person’s ability to get around and continue their daily duties. Unable to perform their previous duties, an injured worker may have too change jobs and earn less money. Factors that affect one’s quality of life such as place of work, relationships with friends and family, and social standing can all be taken away quickly by a work injury.

Read more: https://www.krol-law.com/workers-comp-attorneys-in-chicago/




A Colorado clash between gay rights and religion started as an angry Facebook posting about a wedding cake but now has big implications for anti-discrimination laws in 22 states.

Baker Jack Phillips is challenging a Colorado law that says he was wrong to have turned away a same-sex couple who wanted a cake to celebrate their 2012 wedding.

The justices said Monday they will consider Phillips' case, which could affect all states. Twenty-two states include sexual orientation in anti-discrimination laws that bar discrimination in public accommodations.

Phillips argues that he turned away Charlie Craig and David Mullins not because they are gay, but because their wedding violated Phillips' religious belief.

After the couple was turned away in 2012, they complained about Masterpiece Cakeshop on Facebook, then filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The state sided with the couple.

"It solidified the right of our community to have a right to public accommodations, so future couples are not turned away from a business because of who they are," Mullins said Monday.

Phillips says that artisans cannot be compelled to produce works celebrating an event that violates the artist's religion. A lawyer for Phillips pointed out that another Denver-area baker was not fined for declining to bake a cake with an anti-gay message.

"The government in Colorado is picking and choosing which messages they'll support and which artistic messages they'll protect," said Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which took the baker's case.



The Supreme Court will take up a momentous fight over parties manipulating electoral districts to gain partisan advantage in a case that could affect the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans across the United States.

At issue is whether Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin drew legislative districts that favored their party and were so out of whack with the state's political breakdown that they violated the constitutional rights of Democratic voters.

It will be the high court's first case in more than a decade on what's known as partisan gerrymandering. A lower court struck down the districts as unconstitutional last year.

The justices won't hear the arguments until the fall, but the case has already taken on a distinctly ideological, if not partisan, tone. Just 90 minutes after justices announced Monday that they would hear the case, the five more conservative justices voted to halt a lower court's order to redraw the state's legislative districts by November, in time for next year's elections.

The four more liberal justices, named to the court by Democrats, would have let the new line-drawing proceed even as the court considers the issue.

That divide could be significant. One factor the court weighs in making such decisions is which side seems to have a better chance of winning.

Republicans who control the state legislature assured the court that they could draw new maps in time for the 2018 elections, if the court strikes down the districts. If the state wins, there'll be no need for new districts.

Democrats hope a favorable decision will help them cut into Republican electoral majorities. Election law experts say the case is the best chance yet for the high court to put limits on what lawmakers may do to gain a partisan advantage in creating political district maps.

Both parties have tried to get the largest partisan edge when they control redistricting. Yet Democrats are more supportive of having courts rein in extreme districting plans, mainly because Republicans control more legislatures and drew districts after the 2010 census that enhanced their advantage in those states and in the House of Representatives.

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