Friday, October 4, 2013

SCOTUS Returns on Monday with Age Discrimination Case - COTW #163

It takes more than a federal government shutdown to stop the Supreme Court! They granted certiorari in eight cases on Monday, including two labor and employment law issues. I may jump on them next week - in the meantime check out Ross Runkel's blog for details on the issues in the two cases:
  1. Constitutionality of compelled payments to labor union; and
  2. FICA Tax on Severance Payments to Involuntarily Terminated Employees.
The Court has announced that it will remain open and continue to hear oral arguments until October 11 (at which point they'll reassess the situation if need be).

The first day of oral arguments features an interesting confluence of age discrimination statutory law and constitutional law. When plaintiffs file age discrimination claims under the ADEA they must "exhaust their administrative remedies" - i.e. they must go through the EEOC process before running to court.

However, public employees can file suit under the United States Constitution (and a statute that allows lawsuits for infringement of constitutional rights, 42 USC s1983). Specifically, the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause prohibits certain types of discrimination. Can 14th Am plaintiffs just run straight to court without jumping through those administrative hurdles?

SCOTUS will hopefully answer that question (there's another qualified immunity issue at play here too). The case is Madigan v. Levin, you can check out the SCOTUSblog page here, and my initial post when the Supreme Court granted cert here.