Worker Protections

In Kleber v. Care Fusion Corp, Trump Seventh Circuit judges Amy Coney Barrett, Michael Brennan, Michael Scudder, and Amy St. Eve cast the deciding votes to rule that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not protect job seekers from policies and practices that have a “disparate impact;” in other words, policies that have the effect of discriminating based on age. They held that the statute did not protect a 58-year-old applicant who was refused an interview for a senior position because the company was only seeking applicants with fewer than seven years’ experience. The company hired a 29-year-old with far less experience.

In West Virginia Coal Workers v. Bell, Trump Fourth Circuit judge Jay Richardson denied black lung benefits to a retired coal miner who developed a permanent respiratory disability. The decision reversed the Department of Labor Benefits Review Board’s decision and reinstated the Administrative Law Judge decision that, the dissent noted, “wholly ignores” evidence of lung impairment.

In Evans v. Muzyn, Trump Sixth Circuit judge Amul Thapar dismissed a suit brought by workers against the Tennessee Valley Authority alleging that, in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis, the TVA slashed pension benefits without proper notice and in violation of the plan’s terms. Over a dissent, he held the workers could not even bring the suit because, in his opinion, the cuts “did not cause plaintiffs any harm.”

In Bender v. Champlain Enterprises, Trump Sixth Circuit judge Joan Larsen ruled against an airline employee who was terminated after informing her employer that her supervisor, who oversaw the production of maintenance manuals for pilots, was impeding work in a manner that compromised safety.

In Circus Circus Casinos Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, Trump D.C. Circuit judge Neomi Rao wrote a decision that vacated an NLRB ruling against a company for threatening an employee for union ties. The decision weakens unionized employees’ rights in favor of the employer.

In In re Schlumberger Technology Corp., Trump Fifth Circuit judge Kyle Duncan was the deciding vote to block a district court from allowing discovery of critical information related to an employer’s violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The lawsuit was brought after the employer failed to classify a number of employees as eligible for overtime pay as required by the FLSA.

Although not in the majority, in Nall v. BNSF Railway Company, Trump Fifth Circuit judge James Ho dissented from a decision that ruled in favor of an individual with Parkinson’s disease who alleged that he was improperly placed on leave by his employer.

In Card v. Principle Life Insurance, Trump Sixth Circuit judge Joan Larsen dissented from a Sixth Circuit decision overturning a district court’s denial of disability benefits to a long-term care center nurse suffering from leukemia.


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