U.S. Supreme Court Cases To Watch

Volume: 22 | Issue: 44
October 5, 2023

A new term of the U.S. Supreme Court opened on Monday, October 2, 2023. There are already several pending labor and employment cases to keep an eye on: 

Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo. Although this case is about commercial fishing, it may have an important impact on all businesses because the core issue relates to how much weight courts should give to federal regulations adopted by federal administrative agencies. When the Department of Labor (DOL), for example, issues regulations on how employers should apply the Fair Labor Standards Act, a court will generally defer to the administrative agency’s reasonable interpretation of the FLSA under what is called the “Chevron doctrine.” In the Loper Bright case, four New Jersey fishing companies want the Supreme Court to toss or clarify the Chevron doctrine, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear that issue. The case has not yet been scheduled for oral argument.

Muldrow v. City of St. Louis. In this case the Court will consider whether job transfers (or a denial of a request to change positions) can be challenged as discriminatory under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or whether such actions can be challenged only if they impose “materially significant disadvantages” upon an employee. The plaintiff argues that Title VII prohibits discrimination as to any and all “terms, conditions, or privileges of employment” which should encompass her employer’s decision to transfer her out of an intelligence unit even though her rank, pay and responsibilities were not changed. She argues that some federal courts are improperly requiring employees to meet a heightened test to show that the discriminatory action they suffered caused a “materially significant disadvantage” or was an “adverse action” or an “ultimate employment decision.”

Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries Park St., LLC. Here the Court will again consider the transportation worker exemption to the Federal Arbitration Act to determine whether bakery delivery drivers must arbitrate claims that they were improperly classified as independent contractors. The question at issue is whether the transportation worker exemption applies to workers engaged in foreign or interstate transportation even if their employer is not in the transportation industry. The lower court determined that the drivers in this case were employed in the bakery industry, not the transportation industry. This narrow issue is being closely followed by many retailers and manufacturers using private fleets.

Murray v. UBS Sec., LLC. This is a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The issue is whether an employee must prove intentional retaliation or may use a lesser standard of proof showing that his/her whistleblowing was a contributing factor in the employer’s adverse action. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Nevada, has applied this lesser standard of proof. The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to have a broad impact upon numerous industry-specific whistleblower laws that mimic the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. This case is scheduled for oral argument before the Court on October 10, 2023.

As always, we will keep you posted on developments in these cases as well as any new labor or employment cases the Court agrees to hear this term. If you have questions about these pending cases or the issues raised, please contact a KZA attorney. 

KZA Employer Report articles are for general information only; they are not intended and should not be construed to be legal advice. Reading or replying to such articles does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In addition, because the subject matters and applicable laws discussed in Employer Report articles are often in a state of change and not always applicable to every type of business entity or organization, readers should consult with counsel before making decisions based on the same.

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