U.S. Supreme Court Cases To Watch

Volume: 23 | Issue: 4
January 18, 2024

In October 2023, we briefed you on several labor and employment cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court this term. The new year has brought us a few additional cases to keep an eye on. The Court recently agreed to hear the following cases: 

Starbucks Corp. v. M. Kathleen McKinney. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear this labor case to consider the legal test federal courts use to determine whether to issue an injunction against companies accused of violating the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In this case, the National Labor Relations Board obtained a “10(j) injunction” against Starbucks, requiring the company to reinstate several employees the Board determined were unlawfully discharged. Starbucks argues that federal trial courts are using different standards to evaluate 10(j) requests by the Board and should instead use the same standard.

The Board can seek a 10(j) injunction while a NLRB complaint is pending to “temporarily” remedy alleged unfair labor practices until such time as the Board’s administrative proceedings are concluded (which often takes years). Starbucks correctly argues that 10(j) injunctions are “immensely consequential for businesses” especially because they remain in place for as long as it takes the Board to conclude its proceedings. The company also highlights a recent “uptick” in the use of 10(j) injunctions – a development likely attributable to the Board’s current General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo. 

Wendy Smith v. Keith Spizzirri. Here, the question before the Supreme Court is whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires a federal court to stay a lawsuit while the parties arbitrate the claims or whether the lawsuit can be dismissed if a court finds the entire dispute is subject to arbitration. In this case, delivery drivers filed a lawsuit alleging that they were misclassified by their employer as independent contractors. A federal court determined that their claims must be arbitrated and dismissed the case. The drivers argue that the court was instead required to stay the case under the FAA. They contend that the federal appellate courts disagree on whether a stay is mandatory in cases where all claims are determined to be subject to arbitration. 

We will continue to keep you posted on developments in the labor and employment cases pending before the Supreme Court as well as any new 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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