The Second Circuit Court of Appeals brings an interesting labor decision. In State Employee Bargaining Coalitation v. Roland, ___F.3d___( 2d Cir. May 31, 2013), the court found that targeting Union employees for layoffs violates the First Amendment (freedom of association).
In this case, the employer employed around 50,000 people. 75% of these employees were members of the Union, and 25% were not. In December 2002, the employer fired only Union employees. No non-Union employees were fired.
It is important to note that an employer can manage the size of their work force. However, the employer cannot target a protected group (here, employees who associated themselves with the Union). The reason for this is because by targeting a protected group, the effect is to inhibit employees from their freedom to associate.
Under the Constitution, in order for the employer to not violate the Constitution it must show that they used the less restrictive means to accomplish their interest and must be narrowly tailored to achieve their goals.
The following are the pivotal facts of this case. The employer’s interest was to manage their economical situation. However, the laying off those Union employees had a minimal effect on their budget. In fact, these Union-only lay offs were not included in the Balanced Budget Plan. Further, the facts showed that because both Union and non-Union employees had the same health care and pension benefits there was no reason why only the Union employees were targeted.
via Adjunct Law Prof Blog: Targeting Union Employees For Layoffs Violates The First Amendment.
The American Medical Association (AMA) declared that obesity is a disease and not a condition. AMA board member Patrice Harris stated in a statement,
Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue.
As background, the U.S. has been consistently rated as No. 1 in obesity. Recently, Mexico took the No. 1 spot and the U.S. moved to No. 2. See Huffington article, Mexico Obesity Rate Surpasses The United States (July 9, 2013). Mexico was reported to have 32.8% obesity rate while the U.S. has a rate of 31.8%.
This new definition may have an unknown impact in disability claims. The ABA Journal reports:
Although the AMA’s action was intended to affect medical treatment for the obese, “there’s a high probability it will make it easier for an obese employee to argue that he or she is disabled,” said partner Myra Creighton of Fisher & Phillips.
“It may be easier for employees to prove disability discrimination,” Creighton, who represents employers, told the newspaper. “And, if classified as a disease, it will be difficult for employers to argue that any level of obesity is not an impairment.”
The EmploymentEmployment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has previously defined a “morbid” obese individual as disabled. See, e.g., JD Supra, Morbid Obesity as a Covered Disability under the ADA (July 30, 2012); EEOC Press Release (July 24, 2012); EEOC Press Release (Apr. 10, 2012), EEOC Press Release (Sept. 27, 2011).
It would be interesting to see if the EEOC will change its definition of obesity as a disability.
via Obesity is a disease, AMA says, aiding weight-related disability claims – ABA Journal.
You may remember this story that exploded all over the news. Around the end of 2009 and start of 2010, the news reported that some Toyota cars had sudden-acceleration defects.
Toyota recently settled a federal class action. U.S. District Court Judge James V. Seina approved of the federal class action settlement. The settlement approved is for $1.6 billion, which includes attorney fees and costs calculated at $227 million. The class members are said to receive anywhere between $125 to $10,000 each.
Toyota has denied liability for the alleged sudden-acceleration problem with the vehicles, as provided in the language of the settlement. The ABA reports that a spokeswoman for Toyota stated,
This agreement allows us to resolve a legacy legal issue in a way that provides significant value to our customers and demonstrates that they can depend on Toyota to stand behind our vehicles,
It is important to note that Toyota is still facing trials in more than 80 state court lawsuits over the alleged sudden-acceleration defects.
via Judge OKs $1.6B pact in Toyota class action as trial begins in first wrongful death case – ABA Journal.