Key Supreme Court Decisions Impact Arbitration, Public-Sector Unions and Immigration


By Justin Storch June 29, 2018

As it wraps up its session, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on several cases impacting the workplace.

The Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis decision combined three cases (NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA Inc., Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris) and focused on class-action waivers in arbitration agreements. SHRM filed an amicus brief arguing that the National Labor Relations Act provides no substantive right to invoke collective procedures. The amicus brief helped secure the win, as the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision upheld class-action waivers in arbitration agreements. As a result, employers can prohibit collective class-action claims in arbitration agreements.

In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, the Court ruled that requiring public-sector nonunion employees to pay fees to the union is a violation of the First Amendment. In the 5-4 decision, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the requirement violates "the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern."

The highly publicized case Trump v. Hawaii focused on the president's ability to ban citizens from certain countries from entering the United States. The travel ban will likely impact the ability of employers to secure high-level workers from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. The Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to uphold the travel ban.

Looking Ahead

In its next session scheduled to convene this October, the Court will hear New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira. At issue is whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) applies only to direct employees or also to independent contractors. SHRM has joined an amicus brief urging the Court to reverse the appellate court's decision and apply the FAA to independent contractors. 


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