I love happy endings, especially when they involve workers.
If I were a betting gal, I would have bet that this conservative Supreme Court would have sided with employers in rulings announced yesterday involving workers who were allegedly retaliated against by employers. But thankfully, I would have lost that bet.
In February, I wrote about an employee of restaurant chain Cracker Barrel who was fired for reporting to managers that another worker was being racially discriminated against. It seemed like a clear case of retaliation, which is thought to be a legal no no. Alas, the law is fuzzy in this regard, which is where the Supreme Court came in.
The high court was to decide whether Hendrick Humphries, the Cracker Barrel employee’s, claims of retaliation were indeed covered by existing labor laws, specifically an anti-discrimination statute that has no limits on filing time limits or damages.
And in another case, Myrna Gomez-Perez, a former postal worker in Puerto Rico, filed an age discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and then, she claims, her managers reduced her hours as a result. She to claimed she was retaliated against.
This case would have an ultimate impact on federal employees because the law was unclear on federal employers retaliating based on age discrimination.
In both cases, the Supreme Court decided Tuesday in the employees’ favor, giving them the green light to pursue their lawsuits.
Everyone seemed surprised by the rulings.
An unexpected blend of liberal and conservative Supreme Court justices gave workers more leeway Tuesday to sue when they face retaliation after complaining about discrimination in the workplace.
I was also a bit dumbfounded.
In February, I wrote a blog post for The Huffington Post on how workers should be keeping an eye on the Supreme Courts agenda because the cases they were examining and their ultimate rulings would impact employees for years to come.
Maybe they knew you were all watching.