U.S. Supreme Court
Law Prof Worked on Three Employment Cases on Supreme Court Docket
Posted Nov 16, 2010 6:00 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering three employment discrimination cases this term, and one law professor has worked on all of them.
The court is considered pro-business, but in employment cases, especially those involving retaliation, it has a mixed record, the Washington Post reports. University of Washington law professor Eric Schnapper is working on all three cases on a pro bono basis.
"I think the court keeps a weather eye out for retaliation cases," Schnapper told the Post. "The court sees these as a real threat."
The three cases before the court are:
• Staub v. Proctor Hospital. Vincent Staub, a hospital technician, contends he was fired due to the influence of supervisors who thought his Army reserve duties were taking up too much of his time. The person who made the firing decision didn’t have any discriminatory intent, but was influenced by others who did, Staub alleges. In oral arguments on Nov. 2, Schnapper suggested the court could issue a ruling taking into account how essential it is to safeguard the livelihood of the men and women who safeguard our nation, SCOTUSblog reports. The blog says the rationale, saved for Schnapper’s final comments, might be the one most likely to garner support from the justices.
• Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. Kevin Kasten claims his employer, a plastics company, fired him based on his oral complaints that the time clock was illegally placed in an inconvenient spot. The court heard oral arguments on Oct. 13, SCOTUSblog reports. Schnapper worked on the petitoner’s brief (PDF) but did not argue the case.
• Thompson v. North American Stainless. Eric Thompson claims he was fired because his fiancée, who worked for the same company, had fired a sex discrimination complaint. Arguments are scheduled for Dec. 7, SCOTUSblog reports.