Indiana Law Update Law Tips P2: U. S. Supreme Court Cases You Should Know About – Employment Law

Employment issues can develop at any time…during many types of situations/cases….requiring awareness in critical areas…including actions at the U. S. Supreme Court.  For this reason, this area of law is one of the chosen topics included in ICLEF’s Annual Judge Robert H. Staton Indiana Law UpdateTM.

For those who haven’t had an opportunity to attend the 35th Annual Judge Robert H. Staton Indiana Law UpdateTM, or until you do, Law Tips is pleased to provide a glimpse at the Employment Law segment.  In preparing their expert insights for this year’s program, Melanie Dunajeski and Christopher Drewry,  Drewry Simmons Vornehm LLP, Merrillville and Carmel, Indiana, included a section entitled “Significant U. S. Supreme Court Cases.”

For your reference, here’s the list of the Supreme Court cases discussed by Ms. Dunajeski and Mr. Drewry:

  • Staub v. Proctor Hospital, 131 S.Ct. 1186 (U.S. 2011)
  • Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541 (U.S. 2011)
  • Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP, 131 S.Ct. 863 (U.S. 2011)
  • Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Commission, 132 S.Ct. 694 (U.S. 2012)
  • Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 132 S.Ct. 2156 (U.S. 2012)
  • Vance v. Ball State University, 133 S.Ct. 2434 (U.S. 2013)
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, 133 S.Ct. 2517 (U.S. 2013)

Although the review provided by our authors on each of these cases is relevant and helpful, we can’t cover it all here on Law Tips. Therefore, I’m including their summaries of the 2012 and 2013 decisions:

Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 132 S.Ct. 694 (U.S. 2012)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought an action against a member congregation of the Lutheran Church, alleging that the “called” teacher at its school had been fired in retaliation for threatening to file an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit. The teacher intervened, claiming unlawful retaliation under both the ADA and state law. The United States District

Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted the congregation’s motion for summary judgment and denied reconsideration. The EEOC and the teacher appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit vacated and remanded. Certiorari was granted.

The Supreme Court held that the “called” teacher was a “minister” covered by the ministerial exception, grounded in the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, and that the ministerial exception operated as an affirmative defense, not a jurisdictional bar.

Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 132 S.Ct. 2156 (U.S. 2012)

Employees who had worked as pharmaceutical sales representatives brought an action against their former employer alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime provision. The United States District Court for the District of Arizona entered summary judgment in the employer’s favor, and the employees appealed. The Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed, and certiorari was granted.

The Supreme Court held that the employees whose primary duty was to obtain nonbinding commitments from physicians to prescribe their employer’s prescription drugs in appropriate cases qualified as “outside salesmen” exempt from FLSA’s minimum wage and maximum hours requirements.

Vance v. Ball State University, 133 S.Ct. 2434 (U.S. 2013)

Vance, an African-American university employee, brought an action against Ball State, asserting Title VII claims for hostile work environment and retaliation for the employee’s complaints about racial harassment. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted the university’s motion for summary judgment, and the employee appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit affirmed, and certiorari was granted.

The Supreme Court held that an employee is a “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII if he or she is empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim. Additionally, the Court held that a co-worker who allegedly harassed Vance was not a supervisor under Title VII.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, 133 S.Ct. 2517 (U.S. 2013)

Nassar, a physician who was of Middle Eastern descent, brought a Title VII action against the university, alleging that he was constructively discharged from a university faculty position because of racially and religiously motivated harassment by a superior, and that university retaliated against him for complaining of the alleged harassment. Following a jury trial, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas awarded Nassar damages on both claims, and the university appealed.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit affirmed as to the retaliation but vacated as to the constructive discharge, and remanded. Certiorari was granted.

The Supreme Court held that Title VII retaliation claims must be proved according to the traditional principles of but-for causation.

 

Hopefully, this update from Melanie and Chris brings you assistance in the area of Employment Law at the U. S. Supreme Court level. I’m grateful to our authors for sharing their expertise on Law Tips. The thorough discussion by faculty member Melanie Dunasjeski, including state statutory changes and case reviews, is available during the the 35th Annual Judge Robert H. Staton Indiana Law UpdateTM Video Replay seminar, at a location near you. Click Here to find a Replay Site near your home or office.

Our series continues in the weeks to come with other current “Indiana Law Updates.”  Thank you for visiting. 

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About this Law Tips Faculty Participant:
Melanie Morgan Dunajeski is a partner at Drewry Simmons Vornehm LLP, and manager of the firm’s Merrillville, Indiana satellite office. Her practice is concentrated in employment law, insurance coverage, litigation, and business disputes.

Christopher S. Drewry is an associate at Drewry Simmons Vornehm, LLP at its main office in Carmel, Indiana. Chris concentrates his practice in the areas of labor and employment law and construction law.

About our Law Tips blogger:
Nancy Hurley, Law Tips blogger, has long-standing connections with Indiana lawyers. She was formerly a member of the ISBA and IBF staffs for over 30 years. Nancy’s latest lifestyle venture is with ICLEF. We are utilizing her exceptional writing and interviewing skills while exploring how her Indiana-lawyer background fits with ICLEF’s needs. When she isn’t ferreting out new topics for Law Tips, her work can be found in our Speaker Spotlight blogs, postings on the ICLEF Facebook and Twitter pages, and other places her legal experience lends itself.

Thank you for reading Law Tips. You may subscribe to this weekly blog through the RSS link at the top of this page. Also, you are encouraged to comment below or email Nancy. She welcomes your input as she continues to sift through the treasure trove of knowledge of our CLE faculty to share with you on Law Tips.

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