On April 17, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved a decades-old circuit split regarding what amount of harm a plaintiff must demonstrate to bring an employment discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”). In Muldrow v. City of St. Louis, a unified Court ruled that a plaintiff need only show “some”—and not “significant”—harm from an employment decision to plead and prove employment discrimination under Title VII. Before Muldrow, a number of appellate courts dismissed transfer-based Title VII claims unless the plaintiff could show that the transfer resulted in “significant” harm. The Supreme Court rejected that standard in Muldrow, holding that a plaintiff need only show that the transfer resulted in “some harm” with respect to an identifiable term or condition of employment. The Supreme Court’s new standard raises fresh considerations for employers making transfer decisions, and may have broader implications beyond the transfer context.Continue Reading Supreme Court Eases Burden for Title VII Plaintiffs Challenging Transfer Decisions

In a landmark unanimous ruling late last week, Murray v. UBS Securities, LLC, et al. 601 U. S. ____ (2024), the U.S. Supreme Court held that whistleblowers do not need to prove their employer acted with “retaliatory intent” to be protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Instead, all whistleblower plaintiffs need to prove is that their protected activity was a “contributing factor” in the employer’s unfavorable personnel action. Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Endorses Low Burden of Proof for Whistleblowers

At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows Of Harvard College, Nos. 20-1199 & 21-707, 2023 WL 4239254 (U.S. June 29, 2023), outlawed race-based affirmative action in higher education. Splitting along ideological lines, the Court’s conservative supermajority ruled, 6-3, the college admissions programs of Harvard and the University of North Carolina violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The monumental decision, which dispensed with 45 years of precedent allowing race-conscious admission policies to achieve a diverse student body, has upended the world of higher education.Continue Reading What Does Affirmative Action’s Death Knell Mean for Employers?

On June 29, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a rare unanimous ruling in Groff v. DeJoy, and set a higher standard for employers to meet when denying religious accommodations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). Prior to Groff, employers were free to deny a religious accommodation where it imposed “more than a de minimis cost” on the employer’s business. Following Groff, however, employers must now show that the burden of granting a religious accommodation “would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.” This case has implications for all employers evaluating employee requests for religious accommodations, and should be carefully considered when granting or denying such requests.Continue Reading Supreme Court Raises the Bar for Title VII Religious Accommodations

In Coinbase, Inc. v. Bielski, the Supreme Court of the United States resolved a circuit split over whether district courts must stay proceedings while an interlocutory appeal of a denial of a motion to compel arbitration is ongoing. The Supreme Court held they must.Continue Reading Supreme Court Eases the Ability for Employers to Appeal Denials of Motions to Compel Arbitration in Federal Court

As we wrote about previously here, in October 2022, the Sixth District of the California Court of Appeal in Camp v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 84 Cal.App.5th 638 (2022), ignored a decade of precedent and found Home Depot’s total time rounding for its non-exempt employees was unlawful. In so holding, the court held, “if an employer, as in this case, can capture and has captured the exact amount of time an employee has worked during a shift, the employer must pay the employee for ‘all the time’ worked.” The court rejected at least half a dozen prior appellate opinions and instead focused on carefully selected passages from the California Supreme Court’s holding in Troester v. Starbucks, 5 Cal.5th 829 (2018) and Donohue v. AMN, 11 Cal.5th 58 (2021). In Troester, the Supreme Court held the federal de minimis doctrine did not apply in California, and employees must be paid for all time worked, even during activities that occur regularly but take only a few minutes per day before clocking in (e.g., undergoing a bag check). In Donohue, the Supreme Court rejected time rounding for 30-minute meal periods, although it did not address whether rounding of clock punches for in and out times when shifts begin and end was improper. Continue Reading Home Depot Files Opening Brief in California Supreme Court Case Set to Determine Validity of Time Clock Rounding

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”) created the right to a minimum wage and overtime pay. The FLSA also provides exemptions to overtime pay requirements for certain employees. Under the “bona fide executive” exemption, “highly compensated employees” are exempt from overtime if performing at least one qualifying job duty. However, on February 22, 2023, the United States Supreme Court, in its 6-3 decision in Helix Energy Solution Group, Inc. v. Hewitt, clarified that highly compensated employees paid on a “day-rate” do not qualify for this exemption because a day-rate does not satisfy the salary basis test.Continue Reading Supreme Court Clarifies a “Day-Rate” Does Not Meet the FLSA “Salary Basis” Test, Even for Highly Compensated Employees

On June 6, 2022, a unanimous United States Supreme Court issued another key decision interpreting the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) that will have a significant impact on certain employers going

Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Rules Certain Airline Employees Exempt From Federal Arbitration Act

On May 2, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) granted an employer’s petition for review to determine whether highly compensated employees are entitled to overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) if they are paid on a daily rate and not on a salary basis.
Continue Reading SCOTUS to Determine Whether Highly Compensated Employees Are Entitled to Overtime Pay

On December 15, 2021, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, a case which asks whether the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) requires the enforcement of bilateral arbitration agreements providing that an employee cannot raise representative claims, including under the California Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”).
Continue Reading Supreme Court Grants Review in Important Arbitration Case Regarding PAGA

On July 8, 2020, the Supreme Court gave religious employers wide leeway to hire and fire employees whose duties include religious instruction without having to worry about employment discrimination suits. In a 7-to-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru that the “ministerial exception” – a legal doctrine that shields religious employers from anti-discrimination lawsuits – foreclosed the adjudication of two discrimination lawsuits brought by Catholic school teachers.
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Backs Broad Interpretation of the “Ministerial Exception,” Shielding Religious Employers From Employment Discrimination Claims