On September 6, NELA, joined by the National Women’s Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Muldrow v. City of St. Louis. The brief argues that the 8th Circuit erred when finding that a police sergeant’s job transfer did not constitute gender discrimination. The brief also argues that this interpretation contradicts the congressional intent of the federal law and does not comport with the text of the statute. Highlighting the importance of non-economic aspects of a job, the brief contends that adverse actions of this type can also run afoul of the Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. NELA member Carolyn Wheeler, Katz Banks Kumin, LLP (DC) states “The issue here is a straightforward question of statutory construction. The statute prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, national origin, or religion in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment without any qualifying adjectives about a degree of harm the discrimination must cause. The discriminatory decision is what is unlawful and plaintiffs should be able to pursue such claims without the burden of proving the decision caused some level of “material” harm, which courts usually … Read More
U.S. Supreme Court
On July 5, NELA joined the Anti-Fraud Coalition and Better Markets as amici in Murray v. UBS Securities, LLC, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to fully ensure safeguards against whistleblower retaliation. Petitioner Murray was fired after refusing to engage in illegal reporting and brought a case for unlawful retaliation under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Although Murray won at trial, the Second Circuit vacated the jury’s verdict, holding that to prove retaliation, Murray was required to show that UBS acted with retaliatory intent or discriminatory animus prompted by the whistleblowing activity.
Our amicus brief argues that the Second Circuit erred in its holding, which conflicts with both the plain language of the statute and the policy considerations behind the statute. The statute, which expressly provides that one alleging retaliation need only show that her protected activity was a ‘contributing factor’ in an adverse employment action, at which point the burden shifts to the employer to demonstrate, if possible, that it would have taken the adverse action even absent the protected behavior. Additionally, the congressional intent behind the statute was to ensure robust protections for whistleblowers. As the brief states, “The Second Circuit’s opinion below imposes an elevated burden on … Read More
As you can read on our website page, diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values of the National Employment Lawyers Association. Those values are essential to the achievement of NELA’s mission, which includes empowering workers’ rights attorneys by promoting a fair judiciary. In other words, NELA is committed to the principle that the playing field for its members, and their clients, is “level” only if the group of people who have the authority to decide on the merits of their claims – the judiciary – is, taken as a whole, “fair.”
And to be “fair,” the judiciary must reflect the diversity of the population of citizens that it serves. The Brennan Center for Justice put it aptly in an article titled, What Research Shows About the Importance of Supreme Court Diversity: “Ensuring demographic and experiential diversity on the bench is not just an appropriate component of judicial selection, it is necessary.” As the article points out, this is true for a number of reasons.
First, because the judiciary is a vital public institution, it is critical for it to have the trust and confidence of the public that it serves, and “a diverse judiciary helps instill trust in the … Read More
March is Women’s History Month. Yet this March, for the first time in 50 years, those who are pregnant, in many parts of this country, have been stripped of their Constitutionally protected right to make the personal health decision to have an abortion. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court held that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of liberty does not extend to having an abortion. Further, while those who may become pregnant are overwhelmingly women, the Court further concluded that a ban on abortion does not implicate the Equal Protection Clause. In reaching these conclusions, the Supreme Court used a primarily white, male gaze for its interpretation of what rights are “deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition.”
Sadly, the Court is correct that this country’s history and traditions have not protected the liberty or equality of marginalized people. Infamous decisions such as Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), The Civil Rights Cases (1883), and Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) all enshrined an apartheid system that resulted in violence and economic subjugation of primarily Black people, while decisions like Minor v. Happersett (1875) ensured that women would not be allowed to participate in the political process until … Read More
On March 6, 2023, NELA and the Institute jointly filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Groff v. DeJoy (22-174), urging the court to strike a delicate balance for workers while reevaluating the current standard for providing religious accommodations as set forth in Hardison. The brief recognizes the need for clarification of the current Hardison de minimis standard, which was written in a context where undue hardship was not yet part of Title VII. NELA and the Institute argue that the court should revise the standard to require employers to show actual harm and reiterate the appropriate standard for summary judgment adjudication—two hurdles which are often difficult to overcome for religious employees seeking to receive reasonable accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs. Additionally, the brief advocates for an undue hardship burden which takes into account the impact of accommodations on other employees, aiming to protect workers from discrimination by employers or colleagues under the guise of religious accommodations. NELA is deeply grateful to Professor Michael L. Foreman and the Penn State Law Civil Rights Appellate Clinic, who served as principal drafters of the brief, with editing support from NELA’s Amicus Advisory Council, NELA Program Director Ashley … Read More
For immediate release
Concord, CA – June 24, 2022
Contact: Andrea Hansen, (509) 306-1867, email@example.com
Since the founding of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) in 1985, and the National Institute for Workers’ Rights in 2008, our shared vision for working people has remained constant: a future in which all workers are treated with dignity and respect; workplaces are equitable, diverse, and inclusive; and the well-being of workers is a priority in business practices. Full civil rights and equality for women and people of color are essential to workplace equity.
As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, abortion services will become unavailable to millions of workers across the country. By permitting states to interfere in the private medical decisions of those who are pregnant, the economic security and physical safety of all women are now at risk. This risk will be disproportionately borne by low-income workers and families, and by women of color.
NELA lawyers represent workers in all fifty states and fight daily mistreatment by employers–including gender, race, and pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment and assault, and denial of benefits.
Linda Correia, President of NELA and Institute board member stated: … Read More
By a vote of 53 to 47, the Senate today confirmed the appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman justice to serve on the high court in its 233-year history. All 50 Senate Democrats and three Senate Republicans voted in good faith to confirm her appointment. Justice Jackson’s historic confirmation is a culmination of her decades in public service as a Supreme Court clerk, public defender, District Court Judge, and most recently judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) celebrates this profound milestone in our nation’s history, and we congratulate Justice Jackson on her well-deserved achievement.
The United States needs judges on the bench who have a diversity of backgrounds, informed by real-life experience. The Supreme Court is the final word on many issues that profoundly affect the lives of working people, including those who have been victims of wage theft, workers who have experienced unjust harassment or discrimination, and those who face dangerous and unsafe conditions in their workplace.
NELA has long advocated for demographic and experiential diversity on the bench – both are crucial to ensuring that … Read More
United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Dear Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley, and Committee Members:
On behalf of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), and its 4,000 national, circuit, state, and local affiliate members across the country, we write to express our strongest possible recommendation and our enthusiastic support for the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court. We are proud to support President Biden’s inspiring and historic choice in nominating Judge Jackson. As our nation’s highest court, the Supreme Court oversees federal action on workers’ rights, among the many matters addressed by the Court.
NELA is the largest professional membership organization in the country comprised of lawyers who represent workers in labor, employment, and civil rights disputes. Founded in 1985, NELA empowers workers’ rights attorneys through legal training, promoting a fair judiciary, and advocating for laws and policies that level the playing field for workers. Our members litigate daily in every federal district and circuit, affording NELA a unique perspective on the profound impact of the judiciary on the daily lives and the rights of working people.
First and foremost, NELA seeks to ensure that the judges who hear and render decisions in … Read More
On March 9, 2022, NELA joined our Affiliate, California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), and the National Employment Law Project (NELP) to file an amicus brief in support of the Respondent in Viking River Cruises Inc. v. Moriana. This case addresses the issue of whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires enforcement of a bilateral arbitration agreement providing that an employee cannot raise representative claims, including under the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Our brief argues that PAGA is not an end-run around arbitration and because the FAA was never intended to preempt the states’ law enforcement functions or their authority to determine how to structure their law enforcement authority, the Court should affirm the denial of Petitioner’s motion to compel arbitration. We are extremely grateful to Rachel M. Bien and Monique Olivier (Olivier Schreiber & Chao LLP, CA) who drafted the brief and the team at NELP for their editing support.… Read More
On March 1, 2022, NELA filed an amicus brief in support of the Respondent in Southwest Airlines Co. v. Saxon. This case addresses the very important issue of whether workers who load or unload goods from vehicles that travel in interstate commerce, but do not physically transport such goods themselves, are interstate “transportation workers” exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act. NELA filed in support of Latrice Saxon, a ramp worker for Southwest Airlines facing mandatory arbitration of her employment claims. The brief examined the text of the Federal Arbitration Act’s exemption for transportation workers and argues that Ms. Saxon’s job duties place her, and those similarly situated, within the exemption. The brief also notes that recognizing Ms. Saxon’s class fulfills the legislative purpose of the FAA, and the 7th Circuit’s analysis properly applies earlier supreme court jurisprudence surrounding this issue. We are extremely grateful to NELA Amicus Advisory Council Co-Chair Michael Foreman and his Penn State University Civil Rights Appellate Advocacy Clinic for drafting this brief.… Read More
By Corinne A. Williams, National Institute for Workers’ Rights PHT Attorney Fellow
The confirmation of a Black woman to the Supreme Court will be a huge affirmation of what we already know to be true, that there are and have been scores of Black women who are more than qualified to serve on the Supreme Court in its 232-year history. Black women are some of the most brilliant and tactful jurists on the bench and there is a very long list of Black women attorneys who are powerful advocates in the courtroom, strong leaders in boardrooms, and brilliant thinkers in academic settings. There has never been a shortage of Black women who are deeply qualified to serve. But, despite the national treasure that we have in highly qualified Black women, there is an enormous lack of willingness of those in power to elevate us to positions of power and influence in this country.
This is an extraordinary moment—for all Black women and Black people, for all women, and for all working people. We are eager to see President Biden’s commitment to nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court fulfilled, because we know that this moment in history is not … Read More
The National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) and National Institute for Workers’ Rights (the Institute) thank Justice Stephen Breyer for his nearly 30 years of service on the U.S. Supreme Court. He will leave a legacy of opinions in support of women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, health care, and civil liberties—issues that affect working people from all walks of life.
As we honor Justice Breyer’s legacy, we celebrate this opportunity for President Biden to keep his commitment to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court. We support the Biden Administration in continuing to bring both demographic and experiential diversity to the federal bench, which is far stronger, fairer and more reflective of our country today as a result. NELA and the Institute will continue to advocate for a federal bench that upholds our commitment to civil rights and equal justice on issues that affect working people. We urge President Biden and the Senate to move forward expeditiously, and to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court from among our nation’s abundance of highly qualified women jurists, scholars and lawyers.
About the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA)
Founded in 1985, the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) is the nation’s largest bar … Read More