Tuesday, October 18, 2011

SCOTUS Grants Cert in Federal Jurisdiction Employment Law Case

Yesterday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Elgin v. Dep't of Treasury. The Petitioner's Brief describes the issue and the existing circuit court split:
Do federal district courts have jurisdiction over constitutional claims for equitable relief brought by federal employees, as the Third and D.C. Circuits have held, or does the Civil Service Reform Act impliedly preclude that jurisdiction, as the First, Second, and Tenth Circuits have held?
Basically, the plaintiffs were fired or resigned from their federal executive branch jobs because federal law prohibits executive branch employment for 18-26 year old men who fail to register for selective service. They claim this law is an unconstitutional Bill of Attainder and violates equal protection (sex-based discrimination). So, they filed a lawsuit in federal district court.

What's the problem? Well, the Civil Service Reform Act provides that some federal employees may challenge their terminations before the Merit Systems Protection Board. They can then appeal to the Federal Circuit. Which takes us back to the question presented above... can they file in district court or not?

In case you were wondering... no, this is not the kind of employment law case I was hoping for when I wrote my Supreme Court Employment Law Preview 2011-12.

See also: Ross Runkel, SCOTUS Grants Cert on Federal Employment Jurisdiction Issue.

Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.