The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007-2008 docket includes a number of important cases involving labor, employment and employee benefits issues. Last week, the Court dismissed one case accepted for review due to settlement, and accepted review of three additional employment and benefits disputes. The Court dismissed Huber v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. after the parties reached a confidential settlement. This case examined the issue of whether employees deemed disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act are automatically entitled to placement in alternative positions, or whether the employer may select the best qualified applicant for the position. The lower court sided with Wal-Mart, and final resolution of this question will depend upon another case being accepted for review by the Supreme Court.
The Court also accepted review of three new employment and benefits cases. One case involves the effect of potential conflicts of interest on an ERISA plan administrator’s discretion in making benefit determinations. The second case asks which party bears the burden of proof in determining whether decisions made with regard to employees were due to age in disparate impact cases. The final matter accepted for review raises the very important question of applicability of the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII to a third-party witness who participates in an employer’s internal investigation of sexual harassment allegations.