Results tagged “Employment Law”

February 6, 2014

Waterstone SJ blog Picture.jpgBy Associate Dean Michael Waterstone

This op-ed originally appeared in Roll Call.

People who have been without work for a long period of time are hurting. Even the most tenacious job seeker becomes discouraged over time, and their skills inevitably erode. The longer you are out of a job, the less attractive you become to employers, who wonder why you cannot find work. It is a vicious cycle, and your ability to support yourself and your family deteriorates.

Although some things have improved since the Great Recession, the job prospects for the long-term unemployed have not. Many companies now explicitly advertise that they will not accept job applications from people who are not currently working elsewhere.

That is why it is a good thing that President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to address the issue. The president's call to help the long-term unemployed is right in line with his larger theme of creating good jobs to help bolster the middle class as part of an "opportunity agenda."

Read the complete op-ed.

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December 16, 2013

Waterstone SJ blog Picture.jpgBy Associate Dean Michael Waterstone

This book review originally appeared in the Daily Journal.

Ideas. Collaboration. Drive. In the world we live in, these intangible resources can be the most valuable assets a business has. In the two professional worlds with which I am most familiar, law practice and legal academia, this is certainly the case. Law firms routinely raid one another, both for talent and for books of business (and potential for future business). At law schools, we regularly look to other faculties to see whose talents in the classroom, as scholars, and as administrators would benefit our students, and try to recruit those faculty members to join our ranks. And we expect that other schools will do the same to us. Even more than in the legal arena, the competition between technology companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple is even fiercer. All of these companies fight vigorously with one another for the best talent, and routinely acquire (or as it is now known, acq-hire) entire start-ups, only to discard the actual product but keep the teams, founders and engineers.

Professor Orly Lobel's important new book, Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free Riding addresses what role business and government should play in the talent wars, not just in the legal profession but across industries. Combining insights from law, economics, psychology and business, and with the benefit of experimental studies, Lobel offers a powerful critique of our dated ways of thinking about competition, which center around command and control of human capital. But she also offers a hopeful vision of how law and business can foster innovation and the competitive edge necessary for our country's success in a new and more challenging global environment.

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March 21, 2012

Waterstone SJ blog Picture.jpgBy Associate Dean Michael Waterstone

Waterstone is guest blogging this month at PrawfsBlawg, on which this piece first appeared.

The Supreme Court announced its decision today in Coleman v. Court of Appeals of Maryland. For reasons I will explain below, I disagree with the plurality decision and think it is one of a growing trend of harmful and indefensible "new federalism" decisions. Spoiler alert: I think Justice Scalia makes a fine point about this jurisprudence in his concurring opinion.

First, the facts: Plaintiff had sued his state employer for damages, alleging that it violated the "self-care" part of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles an employee to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave per year for the employee's own serious health condition. In Nevada v. Hibbs, the Court had upheld the constitutionality of suits for damages against states for FMLA's "family care" provisions, which guarantee unpaid leave for the care of a newborn child, adoption or foster care placement of a child, or care of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious medical condition. But in Coleman, the Court held that Congress had exceeded its constitutional authority with the "self-care" provision. Accordingly, the state is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity and the plaintiff's suit for damages is dismissed on sovereign immunity grounds.

In Coleman, the Court held that unlike the family care provision, the self-care provision failed the apparently now sacrosanct City of Boerne congruence and proportionality standard. Under this standard, the Court will assess the evil or wrong Congress attempted to remedy and the means Congress adopted to address that evil. Legislation enacted under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment must be targeted at conduct transgressing the Fourteenth Amendment's substantive provisions and the Court must find that there is congruence and proportionality between the injury to be prevented or remedied and the means adopted to achieve that end.

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November 23, 2011

MichaelWaterstone.jpgBy Professor Michael Waterstone

Would you be comfortable taking a genetic test to see if you had a genetic predisposition to certain diseases? Even if your doctors tell you it might be medically useful, would you be concerned that the results might somehow come back to harm you? Perhaps your employer might find out the results, and, depending on the results, worry about your future productivity? Or would you be concerned that your insurance company could find out and use this information to raise your health insurance rates?

Ninety percent of Americans feel that taking genetic tests leaves them open to this type of genetic discrimination. In response to these fears, and based on the observations of doctors that patients were not getting genetic information for medical purposes and not participating in research studies, Congress passed the Genetic Information Discrimination Act ("GINA"), which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of a person's genetic information in employment and in the provision of health insurance. Although GINA has been on the books since 2008, a recent survey found only 16 percent of people surveyed knew its protections existed. As in all areas, law takes time to work its way into culture.

I recently attended a conference in Ireland on the need for a European framework to deal with the problems of genetic discrimination in Ireland, cosponsored by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, National University of Ireland, Galway and the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University. The audience was academics, policymakers and government officials. The chair was Justice John McMenamin of the Irish High Court, and Marian Harkin, a member of the European Parliament, was in attendance. The conference got a nice write up in the Irish Times.

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June 28, 2011

Georgene Vairo photo

By Professor Georgene Vairo

This is another installment in the Summary Judgments summer series, "The Headline Club," in which Loyola Law School professors will discuss legal issues ripped from the front page.

My dear colleague, Michael Waterstone, already has weighed in on the Supreme Court's decision in earlier post. As a procedure geek, I want to go down a different road and to talk a bit about Wal-Mart's place in the (r)evolution of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the rules making process. For my purposes it is necessary to dwell simply on two aspects of the opinion: the Court's discussion of commonality for Rule 23(a) purposes, and its restriction of monetary relief in the context of a Rule 23(b)(2) class action seeking injunctive relief.

First, this is the third time in relatively recent times that, in a major way, the Supreme Court has adopted such a radically different view of a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure that it amounts to an amendment of the rule outside of the Rules Enabling Act ("REA") process. See 28 U.S.C. § 2071. Starting in the 1970s, defense interests began to really scream about the costs of civil litigation. So, the Advisory Committee on the Civil Rules, appointed by the Chief Justice to adopt and amend the rules pursuant to the REA, went about tinkering [Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 85 F.R.D. 521, 523 (1980) (Powell, J., dissenting from Court's approval of 1980 Amendments regarding discovery).] with the discovery rules. In 1983, the Advisory Committee proposed more than tinkering rules amendments to Rules 11-- the sanctions rule, Rule 16-- the pretrial conference rule, and Rule 26-- the general discovery rule, to help reduce costs and delay. Did any of these amendments change anything? Yes, but they were not enough for some. In 1986, the Supreme Court entered the fray directly for the first time. In its "Summary Judgment Trilogy" [Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, and Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. V. Zenith Radio] it adopted an approach to Rule 56 that, while sensible, overturned the prevailing view that summary judgment ought to be granted sparingly because a plaintiff's right to jury trial was at stake. The Court piled on when it decided General Electric Co. v. Joiner and Kumho Tire Co., LTD v. Carmichael], the Court made the district court a gatekeeper-- keep out the junk science that plaintiffs use to defeat motions for summary judgment. Although empiricists disagree as to the extent to which the 1986 and Daubert trilogies resulted in more summary judgments or not, they certainly sent a message.

I said above that the 1986 Trilogy was "sensible" because I believed in what Justice Rehnquist said in Celotex v. Catrett --summary judgment should be "put up or shut up" time. If a plaintiff has had enough time for discovery, and it is apparent that it lacks evidence on a material issue of fact, there really is no reason for a trial. Although I have always bought into that notion, there was much loose and troubling language in the Trilogy cases. To paraphrase: "District courts ought not evaluate the evidence-- that is the province of the jury-- but they ought to take into account the quantum and quality of the evidence." Is that not weighing? In one of the cases (Matsushita), an antitrust case, the Court said that when deciding whether to grant summary judgment, the court ought to look at whether the plaintiff's claims are "plausible."

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June 22, 2011

Michael Waterstone

By Professor Michael Waterstone

This is another installment in the Summary Judgments summer series, "The Headline Club," in which Loyola Law School professors will discuss legal issues ripped from the front page.

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided Wal-Mart v. Dukes, reversing the Ninth Circuit's certification of a historically large class of women claiming sex discrimination against Wal-Mart. Employment discrimination lawyers have been eagerly awaiting the result in this case, realizing that either way, it would be determinative of the future of employment discrimination class actions (and maybe even class actions in other areas of law).

Other commentators whose views I respect have been quicker than me, and already weighed in on various parts of the Wal-Mart opinion - noting the Court's adverse reaction to the potential size and complexity of the class, the commonality analysis, and the Court's treatment of the social science evidence. Following up on an earlier post about this case, I write here to add my own voice to this chorus.

One issue in Dukes was whether this action - brought for injunctive relief, but also including claims for backpay - could be certified as a class action under 23(b)(2). This turned out to not be much of a fault line, as the Court unanimously held that claims for monetary relief may not be certified under Rule23(b)(2), holding that the claims for backpay were not incidental to the requested injunctive or declaratory relief. Fair enough: plaintiffs had tried to finesse this by not including claims for compensatory damages, which there was clear consensus was not enough. Future plaintiffs attempting reform litigation could choose to completely forego damage claims and focus on injunctive relief. Assuming some lawyer somewhere would take that case, but for the second part of the opinion - discussed below - this possibility would technically be open.

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