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 April 22, 2019, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in a trio of cases challenging the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s (“Title VII”) prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex.  The definition of “sex” in Title VII, and particularly whether the term incorporates sexual orientation and/or gender identity, is currently the subject of uncertainty and a hotly debated judicial and administrative divide.  Specifically, while the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and United States Court of Appeals for the Second and Seventh Circuits have each determined that the term “sex” encompasses sexual orientation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has held that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  While the court has notably declined to hear cases aimed at resolving the meaning of “sex” in Title VII in recent years, its grant of certiorari signals that the Court is now prepared to address the issue.
Continue Reading SCOTUS To Rule On Whether Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity Discrimination

On May 21, 2018, the United States Supreme Court upheld the legality of arbitration agreements containing class action waivers. In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Gorsuch, the Court held that arbitration agreements providing for individualized proceedings were valid, and neither the Federal Arbitration Act’s (“FAA”) savings clause, nor the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) suggest otherwise.
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Enforceability of Mandatory Employment Class Action Waivers

Last week, in Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Title VII authorizes judicial review of the EEOC’s efforts to satisfy its statutory duty to conciliate before filing suit against an employer.  In the simplest of terms, Title VII requires that the EEOC try to remedy unlawful employment practices through “informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion” before it is permitted to file a lawsuit against the employer.
Continue Reading The Supreme Court Decides Mach Mining LLC vs. EEOC: A “Win” For Employers?