Wyatt Employment Law Report


Leave a comment

The Impact of Justice Scalia’s Death on This Term’s Employment-Related Cases

By Sean G. Williamson

Antonin_Scalia_Official_SCOTUS_PortraitThe recent and unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia at a West Texas ranch may affect the decisions in several employment-related cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court this term.  The nine-member body—now reduced to eight—faces a variety of controversial issues predicted to divide the Court along ideological lines.  Prior to Scalia’s passing, the Court generally could be described as containing four conservatives and four liberals, with Justice Anthony Kennedy providing the swing vote.  Without Scalia, the influence of the conservative wing is weakened.  A 4-4 decision will result if Kennedy joins the remaining conservatives in any vote opposite the perceived liberal justices.

When the Court is split 4-4, the lower court’s decision stands, and no national precedent is set.  Moreover, any circuit split the Court might have wished to resolve will remain unchanged.  Rather than render a 4-4 decision, the Court could order the case to be reheard next term—when Continue reading


Leave a comment

Supreme Court Concludes Offer of Judgment Cannot Moot Class Actions

By Douglas L. McSwain and Michael D. Hornback

Every business would like to avoid class actions. Even if an individual class plaintiff’s damages are small, aggregated damages across a sizable class can be staggering.  Of late, businesses have utilized a defense strategy to offer the individually named class plaintiff(s) all of the relief requested (via an “offer of judgment”), prior to the class being certified by the court.  Several courts within the Third, Fourth, and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeals have held offers of judgment for the full relief sought by the individual class plaintiff, even if not accepted, moots the entire class action, and deprives the court of further jurisdiction to hear the case.  By offering all the relief requested by the class plaintiff, the business could avoid the class action entirely.  The First, Second, Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals have not bought this defense, and so the United States Supreme Court took up the case of Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, 577 U.S. ___ (2016), this term to resolve the conflict between the circuits.

On January 20, 2016, the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Campbell-Ewald, holding that an unaccepted offer of judgment has no force and effect, and does not Continue reading