On February 10, NELA and The Institute joined NELP in a Supreme Court amicus brief in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid. In Cedar Point, employers argued that their private property rights were infringed upon by the presence of third-party inspectors, labor organizers, and government enforcers. The brief argues that inspection by government and third-party experts is vital to holding employers accountable and enforcing vital workplace harassment laws, and in no way do these inspections constitute a per se taking. We are grateful to NELP for drafted this brief.… Read More
U.S. Supreme Court
On March 11, 2020, NELA and The Institute jointly filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in St. James School v. Biel (consolidated with Our Lady Of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru (19-348 & 19-267)) urging the court to strike a delicate balance between religious organizations’ First Amendment rights and the right for workers to be free from discrimination in the workplace. Both Biel and Morrissey-Berru arose after teachers at Catholic schools filed suit alleging discrimination when their contracts were not renewed. Both schools argued that the teachers were “ministers” as they served important religious functions in the course of their employment, and decisions surrounding their employment were therefore exempt from anti-discrimination statutes. The 9th Circuit disagreed with this assessment, upholding the Hosanna-Tabor totality-of-the-circumstances test. The brief asks the Court to uphold this current test, which requires lower courts to engage in a fact-intensive examination of four factors (the employee’s formal title; the substance reflected in that title; the individual’s own use of that title; and the important religious functions the individual performed for the religious organization) when determining if an employee is a “minister.” NELA’s brief argues that the current totality-of-the-circumstances test has proven a workable standard, … 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 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 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 Thursday, December 7, 2017, NELA filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Respondents in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, et al. At issue in this case is whether automobile dealership Service Advisors are exempt from the overtime protections in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This is the second time in as many years that the High Court has reviewed this case, and NELA is proud once again to support the efforts of these employees to ensure that they receive full compensation, including overtime pay, for all of the hours they work. NELA’s amicus brief argues persuasively that a plain reading of the text of the FLSA supports the Respondents’ contention that they are not exempt from the statute’s overtime protections. In addition, the brief marshals a compelling array of sources in demonstrating that the broader remedial purposes of the FLSA also support the Respondents’ position. The brief was drafted by NELA member Jamie Golden Sypulski (Law Office of Jamie Golden Sypulski, Chicago, IL).… Read More
NELA was proud to join with our colleagues at the National Employment Law Project and ten labor unions in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, August 16, 2017, in support of the National Labor Relations Board and employees in three consolidated cases addressing the validity of class, collective, and joint action bans in forced arbitration clauses in employment agreements. Specifically, the cases turn on whether the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and Norris-LaGuardia Act (NLGA) make it unlawful for an employer to prohibit its employees from filing legal claims on a joint, class, collective or other group action basis. The brief provides important context regarding the enactment of the NLRA and NLGA in demonstrating that the right to engage in “concerted activities for the purpose of . . . mutual aid or protection” contained in those statutes includes pursuing joint, class, and/or collective litigation. As such, forced arbitration clauses that prohibit employees from engaging in such activities in any forum, as a condition of employment, are invalid and unenforceable. The amicus brief was drafted by NELA member Michael Rubin and Eric P. Brown (both from Altshuler Berzon LLP, San Francisco, CA), with substantial input from … Read More
On April 6, 2016, NELA and the National Employment Law Project filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Respondents in Encino Motors, LLC v. Navarro (Case No. 15-415), currently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Our amicus brief is focused tightly on addressing the issue of statutory construction, both as a means of fleshing out the discussion of the issue in the Respondents’ merits brief and to counter the arguments made in an amicus brief filed in this case on behalf of the Petitioners by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The brief argues that 1) the Court can affirm the Ninth Circuit’s decision without resort to the FLSA’s “narrow construction” rule, because other canons of statutory construction (i.e., Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius and Reddendo Singula Singulis) support the conclusion that service advisors are not covered by the relevant FLSA exemption, and 2) if the Court decides to reach the issue, the “narrow construction” canon is a well-settled method of interpreting the scope of FLSA exemptions and also supports affirming the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.
Our amicus brief was drafted by NELA member Jamie G. Sypulski (Law Office of Jamie Golden Sypulski in Chicago, … Read More
On September 29, 2015, NELA filed an amicus brief jointly with AARP, Interfaith Worker Justice, and the National Employment Law Project (NELP) in support of respondents in Tyson Foods Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, No. 14-1146, pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. This case concerns certification of state law class action wage and hour claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, collective action claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the use of representative evidence. The brief was drafted by NELA member Seth R. Lesser, Klafter Olsen & Lesser LLP, Rye Brook, NY.
Employees at a Tyson meat-processing facility brought Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Iowa Wage Payment Collection Law (IWPCL) claims seeking compensation for time spent walking to their worksites and donning and doffing protective equipment. Tyson did not keep records of the hours employees worked. The district court certified the FLSA claims as a collective action and the IWPCL claims as a class action under FRCP 23(b)(3), finding the FLSA and IWPCL claims substantively the same and subject to the same proof.
At trial, plaintiffs introduced average donning, doffing, and walking times calculated from 744 employee observations and applied this evidence to class members individually using … Read More