California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Supreme Court

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Employee Who Complained Orally About FLSA Violation Is Protected From Retaliation

Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., 563 U.S. ___, 131 S. Ct. 1325 (2011) Kevin Kasten alleged that his former employer, Saint-Gobain, terminated his employment because he orally complained to Saint-Gobain about the location of its time clocks, which prevented workers from receiving credit for the time they spent putting on and taking off their … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Tips the Scales Back Toward Arbitration

In a ruling that has garnered significant interest among employers, the U.S. Supreme Court held on Wednesday that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts the California Supreme Court’s efforts to impose heightened unconscionability standards on class action waivers in consumer arbitration agreements. This decision may also sound the death knell for similar restrictions imposed by California … Continue Reading

Plaintiff Must Prove That Age Was The “But-For” Cause Of Challenged Employment Action

Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs., Inc., 557 U.S. 167, 129 S. Ct. 2343 (2009) Jack Gross worked for FBL as a claims administration director until he was reassigned to the position of claims project coordinator. At the time of his reassignment, many of Gross’s job responsibilities were transferred to a newly created position (claims administration … Continue Reading

City Violated Title VII By Discarding Results Of Test That Disparately Impacted Minorities

Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 129 S.Ct. 2658 (2009) One hundred eighteen firefighters took written examinations administered by the city of New Haven, Connecticut in order to qualify for promotion to the rank of lieutenant or captain. When the examination results showed that white candidates had outperformed minority candidates, the mayor and other local … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules Against the City of New Haven in Highly Publicized Reverse Discrimination Case: What Does Ricci vs. DeStefano Mean For Employers?

Yesterday, in a highly anticipated 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Ricci v. DeStefano that the City of New Haven engaged in unlawful intentional race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) when it discarded a firefighter promotional test because of the racial makeup of … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Holds Plaintiffs in Age Discrimination Suits to Higher Standard

In an important ruling that increases the burden on plaintiffs in cases under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the United States Supreme Court held on June 18, 2009 that plaintiffs in age discrimination cases always bear the burden of proving that an adverse employment action would not have been taken against them … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rejects Retroactive Application of Pregnancy Discrimination Act

In a 7-2 decision, the United States Supreme Court has held that AT&T did not violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) when it based its calculation of employees’ pensions in part on a pre- PDA accrual rule that treated pregnancy leave less favorably than other forms of disability leave. AT&T Corp v. Hulteen, No. 07-543 (May … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Endorses Union-Negotiated Arbitration of Discrimination Claims

Proskauer Prevails As The Court Holds That Collectively Bargained Agreements for The Arbitration of Statutory Discrimination Claims are Enforceable On April 1, 2009, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled in favor of Proskauer Rose’s client 14 Penn Plaza LLC, holding that a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) that clearly and unmistakably requires … Continue Reading

California Law Limiting Use Of State Funds To Deter Union Organizing Is Unconstitutional

Chamber of Commerce v. Brown, 554 U.S. 60, 128 S. Ct. 2408 (2008) Assembly Bill 1889, enacted in 2000, prohibited private employers that receive state funds – whether by reimbursement, grant, contract, use of state property or pursuant to a state program – from using such funds to “assist, promote, or deter union organizing.” Violators … Continue Reading

Employer Bears Burden Of Showing Reasonableness Of Layoff Criteria In Age Discrimination Case

Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Lab., 554 U.S. 84, 128 S. Ct. 2395 (2008) When the United States government ordered Knolls (one of the contractors that maintains the nation’s fleet of nuclear-powered warships) to reduce its workforce, the company conducted an involuntary reduction in force, resulting in the layoff of 31 employees, 30 of whom … Continue Reading

Punitive Damages Award Of 145 Times Compensatory Damages Was Excessive

State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408, 123 S. Ct. 1513 (2003) Curtis and Inez Campbell sued their automobile insurance carrier (State Farm) for bad faith, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress after State Farm declined to settle within the $50,000 policy limit a wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit … Continue Reading
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