Employment Laws Tend to be Impacted by the New Supreme Court Term

employment law

With the new term of the U.S. Supreme Court, lawsuits that directly impact employment law raise problems regarding jurisdiction for labor cases and overtime pay reported, Virginia Lawyers Weekly.

In addition, the cases regarding affirmative action and religious freedom may have a trickle-down effect on company practices.

Prominent cases that are scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court are stated below:

  1. Overtime exemptions

The Supreme court will ponder whether a supervisor earning more than $200,000 a year is entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Helix Energy argued that the former employee M. Hewitt was exempt from overtime pay as he met the threshold of a highly compensated employee.

However, the Circuit Court of Appeals determined that metric was not applicable as Hewitt was compensated by using a day rate and not with a salary.

Therefore, the verdict may impact the companies that pay daily wages, especially in the oil and gas industry. Moreover, it will urge the companies to restructure their compensation plans.

  1. Jurisdiction Matters

The Supreme Court will determine whether employees can select a favorable state to sue their employer.

For example, a former railroad employee in Virginia sued his employer in Pennsylvania court, alleging that on-the-job exposure to toxic chemicals and asbestos resulted in cancer. The employee argued that according to the law of Pennsylvania, a foreign entity’s registration to carry out business in the state itself is an adequate basis for jurisdiction.

If the court ruled in favor of the employee, then a national company may face litigation in any state where they are registered to conduct business.


  1. Affirmative Action

The court will take up the cases of Harvard and the University of North Carolina to consider whether colleges can use race as a factor regarding student admissions.

Nonprofit organizations allege that Harvard violates the Civil Right Act by maintaining a low number of Asian American students. Further, UNC provides unfair partiality to some minority applicants compared to white and Asian American students.

Although the employers and industry groups have filed amicus briefs vowing to maintain race-conscious admission policies as they depend on schools to provide a diverse range of graduates.

If the court eliminated the race factor during admissions, companies engaging in diversity recruitment programs might have an impact.

  1. Religious Freedom and LGBTQ Rights

The Supreme Court will determine whether a public-accommodation law violates the free speech clause.

  1. Smith’s lawsuit challenges the Anti-Discrimination Act in Colorado, which forbids places of public accommodation from denying service based on disability, race, sexual orientation, and religion. According to Smith, designing wedding sites for same-sex couples infringes on her right to free speech.

Depending on court verdicts, companies may be required to rethink how such decisions could impact the workplace.

The First Response team consists of well-experienced and dedicated HR advisors to help your company navigate changes that may occur in the corporate world.

Contact our team to explore more!

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