This past term saw the Supreme Court issue four opinions in labor and employment cases.  In case you missed them, the following is a brief summary of the holdings from those cases.

EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Holding that Title VII’s prohibition against refusing to hire an applicant to avoid accommodating a religious practice that could be accommodated without undue hardship does not require the applicant to have informed the employer of her need for an accommodation where the hiring manager assumed the applicant had a religious practice that would need religious accommodation by the employer.

Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC Holding that narrow judicial review of the sufficiency of EEOC’s statutory conciliation obligation is available.  A court’s scope of review is limited to confirming that the EEOC communicated in some way with the employer (through conference, conciliation or persuasion) about the alleged unlawful employment practices and endeavored to achieve the employer’s voluntary compliance.  This will, at a minimum, include notice to the employer about the specific allegations describing what the employer has done and which employees have suffered as a result.  The Commission must also engage in some form of discussion so as to allow the employer an opportunity to remedy the alleged discriminatory practice.  The Court further noted that the EEOC can typically satisfy its burden of proving sufficient conciliation efforts via affidavit; but those allegations can be controverted by the employer.  The appropriate remedy for a failure of conciliation is an order to the EEOC to understate its statutory conciliation obligation to obtain voluntary compliance.

UPS v. Young Holding that a plaintiff in a Pregnancy Discrimination Act case can reach trial in an intentional discrimination case over a failure to accommodate by providing sufficient evidence that the employer’s policies impose a significant burden on pregnant workers, and that the employer’s legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons are not sufficiently strong to justify the burden give rise to an inference of discrimination.  A significant burden can be shown by the pregnant employee by providing admissible evidence that the employer accommodates a large percentage of nonpregnant workers while failing to accommodate a large percentage of pregnant workers.

Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk Holding that employee time spent waiting to undergo and undergoing security screenings prior to entering and before leaving the workplace (roughly 25 minutes per day) as part of the workplace’s antitheft security protocols was noncompensable postliminary activities under the Fair Labor Standards Act because the activity was not integral and indispensable to the principal activities for which the employees were hired (i.e., picking merchandise in the warehouse).

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