The Supreme Court Is Listening to a Lot of Employment-Related Cases Right Now

Workers and laborers continue to file employment-related lawsuits challenging discrimination and wage violations. Some make it all the way to the Supreme Court.

steel worker

(Photo Credit: USACE HQ/Flickr)

Preparing for Work

Laborers in the United States Steel Corporation bypassed their union and filed a suit against employer Sandifer over time spent preparing for work. The issue is not as simple as changing clothes. Lots of workers arrive to work, change their shoes or don an apron or smock. The collective bargaining agreement that the union has does not allow for monetary compensation for time spent changing clothes.

The workers filed the suit because of the necessary time they put into their workdays that they are not compensated for. The workday begins in the locker rooms. A far cry from donning a chef coat and hat, steel workers must don special safety jackets, pants, work gloves, Kevlar sleeves, steel-toed boots, eye protection, earplugs, and hard hats.

Once they are appropriately covered, they must travel to their workstations. Their "travel" is a far cry from walking down the hall from the restroom to an office cubicle. They often ride buses to get from the locker rooms to their workstations. Once they get there, they may finally clock in.

Because they are required to be in the locker rooms and on the buses at specific times, they argue that the unpaid time is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act

Many employees enjoy the benefits of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1976. Business Management Daily reports on a Wal-Mart employee who had to leave work due to a medical disability. While it is not her fault that her doctor never completed her paperwork, it is the reason she was denied the benefits she had reason to expect she would receive.

A three-year period had run out before her final denial, and the case was dismissed because she had not filed suit earlier. In an attempt to remedy her situation, she will argue in front of the Supreme Court that the three-year period should begin after the final denial, not at the original proof of loss. In other words, she waited to file suit in the good faith hopes that she would not be denied. Her doctor dropped the paperwork and the company dragged it out so that three years passed and she would not be able to file.

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