On January 31, 2023, NELA signed on to an amicus brief filed by the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association (MWELA), asking the Federal Circuit to hear Avalos v. United States en banc. Eleazar Avalos’ attorneys pushed for en banc review on behalf of the plaintiffs, federal employees who were denied compensatory damages for delayed payment of wages during the government shutdown of 2018–2019. The brief argues that the panel majority erred in carving out an extra-textual exception to the FLSA to relieve the government of liability when it failed to timely pay its employees due to a lack of appropriated funds. The brief argues that the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA) does not exempt the government from paying liquidated damages under the FLSA. NELA is grateful to MWELA and NELA members Mark Hanna, Murphy Anderson PLLC (DC), Omar V. Melehy, Melehy Law (MD), and Alan R. Kabat, Bernabei & Kabat, PLLC (DC) for asking NELA to join their excellent brief.… Read More
On July 3, 2019 the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) and The Employee Rights Advocacy Institute for Law & Policy (The NELA Institute) joined the Impact Fund in filing an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court (S.C. 17-1618, 17-1623, 18-107) in support of LGBTQ workers. Impact Fund, NELA, and The NELA Institute filed this brief in support of the Petitioners in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, and Respondent in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. E.E.O.C., addressing not only the pervasive workplace discrimination LGBTQ workers face, but more importantly the lack of clarity that exists in applying workplace protection laws to those who are discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The amicus brief, written by Impact Fund’s Lindsay Nako and David Nahmias, working in close collaboration with NELA members, focuses on the circuit split in the treatment of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This is further confused by the existing consensus among the circuits regarding discrimination based on transgender status. As the brief notes, “The three decisions under review underscore the unpredictability in the law for LGBT people. Faced with similar … Read More
On June 6, 2019 NELA and The NELA Institute filed an amicus brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit (10th Cir. Case No. 0:19-cv-01063). NELA and The NELA Institute filed this brief in support of the Plaintiffs, challenging the district court decision that the Plaintiffs, older female employees fired by management while younger women and older men remained, failed to state a claim under Title VII. The district court ruled in contradiction to longstanding jurisprudence, both in the Supreme Court and the circuits, who have long held that discrimination on the basis of sex plus an additional factor (“sex plus”) is discrimination on the basis of sex under Title VII.
The amicus brief, written by NELA member Darold Killmer (CO) and Liana Orshan (CO), argues that the district court not only ignored the legal precedent of “sex plus” claims, but also failed to recognize the sociological impact that the intersection of sex and age have on older female workers. Contrary to the district court’s contention that the Plaintiffs failed to state a claim of sex discrimination because all women were not affected, courts regularly recognize “sex plus” claims as evidence of discrimination on the basis … Read More
On April 3, 2019, NELA and The NELA Institute jointly filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the Court to rule that Title VII’s administrative-exhaustion requirement is a waivable claim-processing rule and not a jurisdictional prerequisite to suit. This case arose after employee Lois M. Davis filed an internal complaint alleging sexual harassment and assault by an individual in her department, who was investigated and eventually resigned. Soon thereafter, her supervisor, a friend of the alleged harasser, retaliated against Ms. Davis. When he required her to work on a Sunday—a time she had requested off for religious observance—she declined and was fired. Prior to her termination, Ms. Davis filed an official charge with the Texas Workforce Commission, a state agency with a work-sharing agreement with the EEOC, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation. After being fired, Ms. Davis amended her intake questionnaire, but not her charging document, to include religious discrimination.
Ms. Davis proceeded to take all her claims to court and went all the way through the summary judgment phase, including her appeal to the 5th Circuit (which she won) and Fort Bend County’s petition for cert. (which the Supreme Court denied). It was only then, some … Read More
On Tuesday, October 23, 2018, NELA joined a coalition of civil and employee rights organizations in filing an amicus brief in support of the Plaintiff-Appellees in Acosta v. Austin Electrical Services, pending currently in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This case concerns the defendant-employer using an ostensibly neutral workplace audit as a pretense to deploy inappropriate, misleading, and potentially coercive tactics towards workers participating in an ongoing collective action against the company. When the district court justifiably enjoined the employer from continuing its campaign against the workers, the company sought appellate review. The amicus brief highlights the broad discretion afforded to district courts to ensure defendants do not sabotage employees’ efforts to vindicate their rights. The brief also summarizes the various forms of underhanded methods that far too often are deployed to chill employee participation and undermine the enforcement of workplace laws, and emphasizes the important role district courts can play in managing cases in ways that protect vulnerable litigants from abusive behavior. The brief was drafted by NELA members Bryan Schwartz (Oakland, CA), Lindsay Nako (Berkeley, CA), Matthew Helland (Oakland, CA), and Adam Hansen (Minneapolis, MN).… Read More
On July 25, 2018, NELA joined the Economic Policy Institute and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in supporting an amicus brief authored by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) in New Prime, Inc. v. Oliveira, pending currently in the U.S. Supreme Court. The case concerns whether the Federal Arbitration Act’s (FAA) exemption of “contracts of employment” from its coverage applies to clauses purporting to treat workers as independent contractors, and whether the resolution of that question may properly be delegated to an arbitrator. In addition to arguing that the contract at issue in this case should be exempt under the plain language of the FAA, the amicus brief adds essential context by detailing the independent contractor misclassification problems endemic in the trucking industry and the abuses of workers they engender, in addition to the detrimental effects they have on other employers, state budget and tax coffers, and on employers’ economic incentives to misclassify more drivers. The brief was authored by NELA member Catherine K. Ruckelshaus and Ceilidh Gao of NELP.… Read More
On July 12, 2018, NELA was pleased to join our colleagues at AARP and AARP Foundation Litigation on an amicus brief in support of the Respondents John Guido and Dennis Rankin in Mt. Lemmon Fire District v. Guido & Rankin, pending currently in the U.S. Supreme Court. This case concerns whether the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies to state and local government entities with fewer than twenty employees. The brief makes a number of compelling arguments in favor of upholding the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the ADEA covers the entities in question. First, settled principles of statutory construction that have been reaffirmed many times by the U.S. Supreme Court support the conclusion that the employer in question is covered by the ADEA. Second, the brief draws on a number of previous decisions in which the Court declined to apply interpretations from cases arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to the ADEA, where there were key differences in the texts, contexts, and histories of the respective statutes. Finally, the brief does well to point out that the Petitioners’ arguments regarding the potential threats that ADEA enforcement would pose to the financial survival … Read More
On Wednesday, May 30, 2018, NELA was proud to join with a coalition of women’s, employee, and civil rights groups led by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) in filing an amicus brief in support of the Plaintiff-Appellant Evangeline Parker in Parker v. Reema Consulting Services, Inc., pending currently in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In the course of rising in the ranks while working at the defendant firm, the Plaintiff was subjected to a false and repugnant rumor that her professional advancement was due to her having a sexual relationship with a male manager. The rumor’s spreading resulted in Ms. Parker facing harassment and discrimination, and when she tried to stop the rumor and complained about the harassment she was facing, the company retaliated against her and ultimately terminated her employment. The district court relied on a number of inappropriate grounds in dismissing her claims, including erroneously holding that the type of rumor to which she was subjected could not support a claim for gender discrimination because it could be made about either a male or female employee. The amicus brief marshals a wide array of legal and social science evidence in demonstrating that … Read More
On May 2, 2018, NELA was pleased to join with AARP and AARP Foundation Litigation in filing an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs/appellants in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in In re Express Scripts Inc. & Anthem, Inc. ERISA Litigation. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) contains a broad, functional definition of who qualifies as a “fiduciary,” to ensure that employee benefit plans are managed prudently and loyally on behalf of their participants. This appeal concerns whether the district court erred by dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims that the defendant Anthem, Inc. and a third-party with whom it contracted to provide the pharmacy benefit services to the plan (ESI), were both fiduciaries under ERISA. The brief argues that based on 1) the policies and objectives underlying ERISA; 2) the functional authority granted to Anthem under the terms of the plan; and 3) the discretion exercised by ESI under its agreement with Anthem, both companies were fiduciaries under ERISA. The brief was drafted by Karen L. Handorf of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC, with assistance from Mary Ellen Signorille of AARP Foundation Litigation (both Washington, DC).… Read More
Sharon Reagan-Diaz v. Jeff Sessions in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.… Read More
On January 19, 2018, NELA joined a coalition of over 80 civil and workers’ rights groups in filing an amicus brief on behalf of the Respondents in Janus v. AFSCME, et al., pending currently in the U.S. Supreme Court. This case involves a challenge to “Fair Share” rules, which require non-union employees to pay a modest sum to a union who represents other workers in the same bargaining unit, in exchange for the numerous resources those unions expend on behalf of union and non-union workers alike. The brief brings to the Court’s attention the primary role that public sector professions have played in providing equal employment opportunity and economic empowerment for members of some of the most vulnerable, disenfranchised people in America. Further, it highlights the importance of “Fair Share” fees in allowing public sector unions to continue to provide essential benefits and protections for both union and non-union workers. The brief was drafted by our colleagues at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the National Women’s Law Center, with assistance from colleagues at Jenner & Block LLP and the Supreme Court and Appellate Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.… Read More
On January 11, 2018, NELA joined a coalition of civil rights and gender equity groups in signing an amicus brief filed by the ACLU Women’s Rights Project (WRP) and the Center for WorkLife Law (CWLL) in Legg et al. v. Ulster County (2d Cir.). This case concerns the appropriate interpretation and application of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Young v. UPS (2015), as applied in a case alleging that a particular policy has a disparate impact on pregnant employees (in this case, corrections officers). In arguing that the ruling of the district court should be reversed, the amicus brief highlights the central purpose of the PDA, as reaffirmed in Young, which is to assure that employers do not disadvantage pregnant workers as compared to their non-pregnant peers. Specifically, the brief challenges the lower court’s holding requiring the plaintiff not only to demonstrate that the light duty policy in question had a disparate impact on pregnant workers, but also to further prove that all or most pregnant officers will require light duty to continue working. As the brief ably demonstrates, this ruling turns the applicable disparate impact analysis on its … Read More