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SCOTUS’ new term to spotlight employment, arbitration cases

It is a truism that cases on the United States Supreme Court docket – all matters that come to the court’s purview – are flatly significant and with the potential to affect vast numbers of Americans in fundamental ways. It will certainly be business as usual for the court during its current term.

In fact, that term (which began on October 1) is centrally about business, with two upcoming matters the justices will rule upon spotlighting commercial issues that are important for two distinct demographics.

The first is seasoned workers, namely, employees 40 or older. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects those individuals against workplace bias in matter ranging from hiring and promotion to termination and other job-linked matters. (Note: Many states have additional enactments focused on the same subject matter, including Connecticut).

The key question in a case before the court is this: Does the ADEA apply to only public employers with 20 or more workers or in every instance of alleged discrimination? The 20-linked threshold is the standard in cases involving private employees. Plaintiffs in the case argue that the ADEA is relevant law without regard to any threshold.

The second matter focuses on arbitration, which is unquestionably a hot-button issue in several respects these days. The court will rule on two cases. One of them features a plaintiff’s alleged right to file a class-action claim in light of contractual language demanding arbitration as the sole forum for dispute resolution. Given that the agreement in question does not make any reference to class action filings, the court is expected to weigh in on how specific arbitration-tied language must be.

The second arbitration case spotlights an alleged distinction between employees and independent contractors. A group of the latter say that they have “contracts of employment” as interstate truckers that enable them to avoid arbitration and take cited grievances directly to court.

We will keep readers timely informed of any material developments that arise in these cases and any other key business-focused rulings that issue during the court’s current term.

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