You are here: Home > Recent news
Table of Contents:
Government sues American Airlines under USERRA
The Associated Press reports:
The Department of Justice has filed a class-action lawsuit against American Airlines, claiming the carrier illegally denied benefits to pilots while they were serving in National Guard and reserve units.
The Department of Justice said Thursday night that it filed the lawsuit in U.S. district court in Dallas on behalf of three Naval Reserve and Air National Guard pilots.
Officials said it was the first time they had filed a class-action case charging an employer with violating a 1994 law designed to protect employees who leave their jobs temporarily to serve in military units.
The government charged that American conducted an audit in 2001 and cut benefits of pilots who took leave for military service but didn't reduce benefits of pilots who took other types of leave.
The Government is suing under a law known as USERRA -- the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
New Regulations protect reemployment rights for Guard and Reserves
The American Forces Press Service reports:
The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is lauding today's Labor Department announcement that it is issuing rules clarifying re-employment rights for citizen-soldiers as a major step forward for Guardsmen, Reservists and their civilian employers.
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao announced final rules interpreting the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act that helps ensure job security for reserve-component members returning to civilian life from military duty. The rules will be published Dec. 19 in the Federal Register.
Speaking at the National Press Club here, Chao noted that this is the first time since the law's passage in 1994 that regulations have been developed to enforce it.
The rules are particularly critical now, she said, when the United States has the largest group of mobilized National Guard and Reserve members since World War II. Since Sept. 11, 2001, almost 530,000 reserve-component members have been mobilized, many for more than a year of duty.
You can read the final regulations here. I am particularly proud that the Department accepted the comments of the National Employment Lawyers Association's USERRA Task Force in strengthening its proposed regulations at several key points. I was a member of that NELA Task Force.
An Interesting Idea: making law by contract
The New York Times Magazine, in its annual "Year in Ideas" issue, included this idea:
For a decade now, Congress has declined to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), which would make it illegal for companies to fire or demote on the basis of sexual orientation. And yet some of the nation's biggest companies, including AT&T, I.B.M. and General Mills, say they'd be happy to abide by the legislation. The Yale Law School professor Ian Ayres and his wife, the Quinnipiac University School of Law professor Jennifer Gerarda Brown, wonder: Why wait for Congress to pass a law when you can, in effect, do it yourself?
In their book "Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights," Ayres and Brown present a plan for partly enacting ENDA without Congress's help. Their Fair Employment mark is a seal of approval - think of the Orthodox Union's imprimatur that a product is kosher - mated to a novel legal scheme that would effectively privatize this area of antidiscrimination law.
For the remainder of the article, go to The Fair Employment Mark - New York Times.
So far the idea has not caught on, but let's see if it picks up steam. Here is the agreement that any company can sign to adopt the Fair Employment mark.
Supreme Court will decide on the meaning of "retaliation"
The New York Times reported on 6 December 2005: For more than 40 years, federal law has prohibited employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination on the job. But neither Congress, which included the anti-retaliation protection in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, nor the Supreme Court has ever defined "retaliation."
On Monday, the justices agreed to provide the definition, accepting a case that began in a Memphis rail yard when the only woman working in the maintenance department there complained about sexual harassment by her supervisor.
Within 10 days, the woman, Sheila White, was transferred from her assignment operating a forklift to the less desirable position, within the same job classification, of working outdoors on the tracks.
Three months later, after she filed a formal complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, her employer, the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Company, suspended her without pay. After a union grievance, she was restored to the payroll with back pay after 37 days.
The question for the court is whether the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, correctly concluded that those events amounted to the type of retaliation that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits. The appeals court upheld a jury award of $43,250 in compensatory damages to Ms. White. -- For the whole story from the NY Times, go to Court to Rule on What Constitutes Employer Retaliation - New York Times