On September 5, NELA filed an amicus brief in the 7th Circuit, supporting workers who had their FLSA claims dismissed in Rodgers-Rouzier v. American Queen Steamboat Operating Company. This case hinged on whether opt-in plaintiffs were in fact party plaintiffs and when the statute of limitations begins tolling for these plaintiffs. The brief highlights that requiring anything beyond written consent forms for a plaintiff to be classified as a “party plaintiff” would create a circuit split, putting the seventh circuit directly in contradiction with a number of other circuits and Supreme Court jurisprudence. Additionally, the brief notes that “the language of the FLSA, this Circuit’s caselaw, and the purpose of FLSA collective actions all support a rule that the statute of limitations for opt-in plaintiffs in an FLSA collective action is tolled on the date they file their written consent and become a party plaintiff to the action.” NELA is grateful to NELA Board Member Summer H. Murshid, Martha Burke and Connor Clegg, Hawks Quindel, S.C. (WI) and Clif Alexander and Lauren E. Braddy, Anderson Alexander, PLLC (TX) for drafting this important brief.… Read More
On February 1, 2023, NELA, joined by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Appellant in Fitzgerald v. Roncalli High School, Inc. (7th Cir.), urging the court to maintain the totality-of-the-circumstances test established in Hosanna-Tabor when determining if an employee is a “minister” in a religious organization. Michelle Fitzgerald, a guidance counselor at a Catholic high school, was fired after Roncalli administrators learned she was married to a woman. The district court relied solely on one factor, Fitzgerald’s employment contract when finding that she was a “minister” and therefore unable to avail herself of the protections of Title VII. NELA’s brief argues that the current totality-of-the-circumstances test has proven a workable standard, that properly balances religious freedom and workers’ right to be free from discrimination. The brief further points out the large numbers of workers who would potentially be open to discrimination in the workplace should the court adopt the one-factor test from the district court decision. NELA is deeply grateful to Professor Michael L. Foreman and the Penn State Law Civil Rights Appellate Clinic, who drafted the brief.… Read More
On January 6, 2021, NELA and The Institute signed on to an amicus brief drafted by Lambda Legal in the 7th Circuit case Demkovich v. St. Andrew The Apostle Parish. Plaintiff Sandor Demkovich was subjected to workplace harassment and a hostile work environment as an LGBTQ employee. His employer argued that as Demkovich was a “minister”, all hostile work environment claims were barred under the ministerial exception. The amicus brief submitted by Lambda Legal urges the en banc 7th Circuit not to bar all hostile work environment claims for religious employers, and highlights the potential harms of an expansion of the ministerial exception on LGBTQ employees and others who often experience discrimination in the workplace. We are grateful to Lambda Legal for taking the lead on this brief.… Read More
NELA joined AARP to file amicus briefs in support of the plaintiffs-appellees in Kaplan v. Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, No. 14-8125 (3d Cir.), and Stapleton v. Advocate Health Care Network, No. 15-1368 (7th Cir.). These cases challenge the claimed religious exemption from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA) requirements by two large health care organizations. The amicus brief in Kaplan was filed on May 11, 2015 and the Stapleton brief was filed on May 13, 2015. The amicus briefs were drafted by NELA members Mary Ellen Signorille of AARP Foundation Litigation, Washington, DC and Ronald Dean, Pacific Palisades, CA.
Both cases were bought as putative class actions on behalf of participants and beneficiaries of the defendants-appellants’ retirement plans, alleging that the plans are improperly maintained as exempt church plans under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. Both organizations are large well-funded employers. Saint Peter’s Healthcare System (SPHS) is a non-profit healthcare corporation headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey with over 2,800 employees. In 1974, SPHS established its retirement plan, which is a non-contributory defined benefit pension plan and, for over thirty years, operated it as an ERISA plan. In 2006, during the nationwide economic downturn, SPHS … Read More
On November 4, 2014, NELA joined the Impact Fund, AARP and other organizations to file an amicus brief in support of respondent EEOC in the case of Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC, Case No. 13-1019, pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. The question presented in this case is: Whether and to what extent may a court enforce the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s duty under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b), (f)(1) to conciliate discrimination claims before filing suit. The amicus brief was drafted by NELA Amicus Advisory Council Co-Chair Michael L. Foreman and the Civil Rights Appellate Clinic at the Pennsylvania State University’s Dickinson School of Law, which he directs, and NELA members Jocelyn Larkin and Robert Schug at the Impact Fund.
The case arose in 2008 when a rejected female applicant for a mining position filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, alleging that Mach Mining, which had never hired a woman for this position, refused to hire her based on her gender. After conducting an investigation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe Mach Mining had discriminated against a class of women who applied for mining-related jobs, and invited it to conciliate. From late 2010 to late 2011, … Read More
On November 15, 2012, NELA filed an amicus brief in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the plaintiffs in Teed v. Thomas & Betts Power Solutions. In this case, NELA filed in support of the plaintiffs’ efforts to preserve a favorable district court ruling on successor liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Our brief was drafted by David E. Schlesinger and James H. Kaster of Nichols Kaster, PLLP (Minneapolis, MN).
The plaintiffs in this case filed suit against JT Packard & Associates for violations of the FLSA, seeking overtime pay. After the district court conditionally certified the case as a collective action, the defendants sought to stay or dismiss the proceedings because the company had entered receivership proceedings. The company was eventually purchased by Thomas & Betts, which, as part of that purchase, signed an agreement that included reference to an order asserting that the plaintiffs “intend to pursue both lawsuits under a theory of successor liability against defendant’s buyer.” I approving the sale, the state court in Wisconsin affirmed that Thomas & Betts was on notice of the plaintiffs’ claims, but did not by virtue of purchasing JT Packard’s assets automatically become … Read More