On October 24th, at the 30th Annual North Carolina/South Carolina Labor and Employment Law CLE held in Asheville, NC, Jon Harkavy presented his 2013-2014 annual review of the Supreme Court's employment law cases. His paper is entitled "2014 Supreme Court Employment Law Commentary." (Please download his article here.)
Introduction: The October 2013 Term of the Supreme Court of the United States focused on a large number of employment-related issues, illustrating yet again the central role that regulation of the employment relationship plays in American life. This term's employment decisions, exhibiting the same laissez faire flavor by the same slim majority, reaffirmed the Roberts Court as a champion of employers, an opponent of organized labor and no friend of working people. Consequently, neither employees nor unions fared well during the 2013 Term. Detailed examination of the 2013 Term's employment decisions, however, is much more revealing than a simple box score of results. Indeed, the Court's opinions provide a useful lens for examining broader aspects of our jurisprudence. What this closer look discloses is a deep and entrenched philosophical fracture that belies what many observers have hailed as the Court's new unanimity. Despite an unusually large number of unanimous judgments this term, the Roberts Court's signature continues to be written by a cohesive group of Justices bent on dismantling, or at least disabling, much of the regulatory framework in the labor and employment area. But, more about the thematic aspects of the opinions in this article's concluding section after you have an opportunity to feast on this term's smorgasbord of cases.