Workers Search for Fairness in Federal Courts

Interesting  article in The Nation about the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr:

” … the Roberts Court has been consistently skeptical of the need for judicial redress for victims of state or corporate wrongs. It has imposed strict ‘pleading’ requirements that help corporate defendants get lawsuits dismissed before having to turn over potentially damning evidence to employees or customers, and it has barred classwide remedies even when they are the only meaningful way to hold businesses accountable.”

Author David Cole notes that many of the Court’s decisions were 5-to-4, reflecting the political bent of the justices, five of whom were appointed by Republican presidents and  four of whom were appointed by Democratic presidents. He notes the  one-vote conservative margin could shift in the years ahead, depending upon who is elected to the presidency and who is appointed to the Court.

A common theme of this blog is the inability of  workplace abuse and employment discrimination victims (especially age discrimination victims) to achieve even a modicum of justice in our federal court system, which is heavily tilted toward government and corporate employers.  In my weekly review of  federal appellate court decisions in employment law cases, it is rare to find a decision affirming the right of workers to be treated with respect and dignity.  It is commonplace to find  the case of an aggrieved worker dismissed on the basis of an obscure technicality or because of the legal equivalent of a whim. It is all the more distressing that federal courts seem to be out of touch,  imperiously unaccountable to average Americans (they even refuse to televise their proceedings), and oblivious to the need for innovation and change .

Not only is the U.S. Supreme Court  majority extremely conservative but so are the hundreds of judges with lifetime tenure who populate the federal bench – most of whom also were appointed by Republican presidents.

In my recent book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, I decry various U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have eviscerated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).  Among other things, I cite a 2009 Court decision that raised the level of proof required in ADEA cases high above that of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, color and national origin. I also note the nation’s highest court accords age discrimination its lowest standard of review – so a law that discriminates on the basis of age literally has to be irrational to offend the Court, which accords a much higher level of scrutiny to laws that discriminate on the basis of race and sex.

Is it really a radical notion to suggest that all Americans – even older workers – should be accorded equal justice under the law? US Supreme Court

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  1. […] federal court system, which is heavily tilted toward  employers. Discrimination lawsuits are dismissed at much higher rates than other types of lawsuits and t his has been the case for years. No one in […]

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