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The U.S. Supreme Court and discrimination

The Roberts Court decided three cases involving worker rights last week.  It ruled against the employer only once, in a case alleging age discrimination.  When a federal laboratory laid off 31 workers--and 30 were over age 40--the Court said Congress meant what it said when it required employers denying patent discrimination to explain the nonage-related factors that lead to discharge.  If the employer wants to avoid paying compensation for what appears to be age discrimination, it must come up with evidence to meet its burden of proving "reasonable factors other than age".  

 The sole dissenter was Clarence Thomas who claimed that the age discrimination law barred only intentional mis-behavior--not policies that were not proved to be deliberate but which happened to have a discriminatory impact.  Can you imagine such an insensitive and idiotic position from a black citizen, who would, in theory, be well aware of the gaping hole this would create in all laws governing discrimination?  "We have nothing against blacks--we just didn't want anyone working here who had curly hair....or rode the bus to work...or preferred basketball to tennis... or who lived in this central city...or whose great-grandparents didn't vote."

The Court also struck down a California law intended to prevent employers from  employing coercion to discourage workers from joining unions and ruled against olders workers in a pension case.

The lobbyists for the Chamber of Commerce and its several political alter-egos vowed to work harder to attain a Supreme Court victory record like it achieved in 2007, when the Court even struck down a gender discrimination case because the badly-abused woman did not file suit before she learned of her grossly disparate pay. (See prior blog entries describing Ledbetter v. Goodyear.)

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