Thursday, October 10, 2013

SCOTUS 2013-14 Employment Law Preview

Slim employment law pickings at the Supreme Court this term (at least among cases granted thus far). As a reminder, I broke labor law into a separate preview this year. Let's check out the docket:

Age Discrimination Claims Under the Constitution
In Madigan v. Levin, the Court will hopefully decide:
Whether the Seventh Circuit erred in holding, in an acknowledged departure from the rule in at least four other circuits, that state and local government employees may avoid the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act’s comprehensive remedial regime by bringing age discrimination claims directly under the Equal Protection Clause and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
In other words, can public employees skip all that administrative stuff under the ADEA, like filing a charge with the EEOC, and just go straight to court with a claim under the Equal Protection Clause? And I say "hopefully" the Court will decide the issue because there are significant procedural hurdles, and early reports from oral arguments suggest the case might get DIG'd (or otherwise decided without resolving the big question).

ERISA Statute of Limitations
In Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life and Accident Ins. Co., the Supreme Court granted certiorari on one specific question: "When should a statute of limitations accrue for judicial review of an ERISA disability adverse benefit determination?" Oral argument is set for October 15, 2013.

SOx Retaliation
In Lawson v. FMR LLC, the Supreme Court will likely determine:
Is an employee of a privately-held contractor or subcontractor of a public company protected from retaliation by section 1514A (of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act)?
Argument on November 12, 2013.

Employment Law-ish
And then there are the cases that are kinda sorta employment law-ish. Like, U.S. v. Quality Stores, Inc. (Whether severance payments made to employees whose employment was involuntarily terminated are taxable under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, 26 U.S.C. 3101 et seq.) and an obligatory arbitration case, BG Group PLC v. Republic of Argentina (In disputes involving a multi-staged dispute resolution process, does a court or instead the arbitrator determine whether a precondition to arbitration has been satisīŦed?).

So, to recap - an age discrimination case that will only impact public employees that probably won't even be resolved by the Court; an ERISA statute of limitations case; a SOx case applicable only to (sub)contractors of certain public companies; a FICA case; and an arbitration question. I'm having trouble getting pumped up for this term. There's some chance SCOTUS will grant cert on an interesting pregnancy accommodation issue though so cross your fingers!