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Employment Cases on the Supreme Court’s 2012-13 Docket

The U.S. Supreme Court‘s new term got under way on October 1, the first Monday in October. Here are the employment cases for which the Court has so far granted review. We will update this posting with developments in these cases and any other employment cases for which review is granted.

Kloeckner v. SolisNo. 11-184. The question is whether the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or a federal district court has jurisdiction over a discrimination claim if the Merit Systems Protection Board hears an appeal by a federal employee from an adverse action, without determining the employee’s discrimination claim. On December 10, 2012, the Court unanimously ruled that the district courts have jurisdiction over such appeals. The Eighth Circuit decision that the Court reversed is available here. The case was argued on October 2, 2012. The briefs filed in the case are available at the ABA’s Supreme Court Preview site. A transcript of the oral argument is available here. [UPDATED 12/16/2012]
Vance v. Ball State University, No. 11-556. The question is whether an employer is strictly liable under Title VII for harassment by all those whom it vests with authority to direct and oversee their victim’s daily work, or only those who have the power to “hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline” their victim. The Seventh Circuit decision under review is available here. The case was argued on November 26, 2012. The briefs filed in the case are available at the ABA’s Supreme Court Preview site. A transcript of the oral argument is available here.

U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen, No. 11-1285. The case concerns the limits on the equitable relief that a court may award under ERISA to enforce the terms of an employee benefit plan. The Third Circuit decision under review is available here. The case was argued on November 27, 2012. The briefs filed in the case are available at the ABA’s Supreme Court Preview site. A transcript of the oral argument is available here.[ADDED 12/16/2012] Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter, No. 12-135. The question is whether an arbitrator acts within his powers under the Federal Arbitration Act (as the Second and Third Circuits have held) or exceeds those powers (as the Fifth Circuit has held) by determining that parties affirmatively “agreed to authorize class arbitration,” Stolt-Nielsen, 130 S. Ct. at 1776, based solely on their use of broad contractual language precluding litigation and requiring arbitration of any dispute arising under their contract. The Third Circuit decision under review is available here.