There are four cases worth watching in the upcoming term of the United States Supreme Court that may affect aspects of the employer/employee relationship:
- Eligibility of wage and hour lawsuits for collective (class) action status;
- The timeline for filing a discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act;
- The ability of unions to collect fees from non-union public employees; and
- An employee’s ability to sue over a credit report containing false information.
The Court’s decision in Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo will clarify whether a court should allow a collective action to move forward when there are differences among the individual class members. Also at issue is whether a court should certify a collective action when a large number of putative class members were not injured.
The time limit for filing a constructive discharge claim under the federal Civil Rights Act will be decided in Green v. Brennan. A constructive discharge claim is when an employee resigns due to a working environment so intolerable that a reasonable person in the same situation would do the same thing. The question before the Court is whether the time limit for filing an administrative action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission begins with the last occurrence of an unlawful employment practice or the date of the employee’s resignation.
In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the Court will decide whether unions representing public employees may continue to collect fees from employees who are not union members. Currently, unions can collect fees associated with the costs of bargaining, contract administration, and grievance activities. Friedrichs claimed that being required to pay the union violated her First Amendment right to free speech in that she was forced to support a union with whose speech she did not agree.
The U.S. Constitution’s fundamental requirement for standing to bring a lawsuit will be interpreted by the Court in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins. The Constitution requires an “injury-in-fact” to have occurred before a plaintiff can file a lawsuit for damages. In this case, the plaintiff alleged that false information compiled and made available by an online database provider would potentially negatively affect his credit, insurance, and employment prospects. Although he showed no injury-in-fact, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the database provider’s violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, in and of itself, constituted an injury-in fact.
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