Week Ahead in Employment: November 1, 2021

(Reuters) – Here are some upcoming events of interest to the employment law community. All times are local unless stated otherwise.

Monday, Nov. 1

9 a.m. – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will consider whether a former sales representative for a medical software company who claims he was fired for exercising his right to challenge a performance improvement plan can claim wrongful termination under state law. An appeals court in January said the narrow “public policy exception” to the general rule that employees can be fired at will did not extend to claims brought under a Massachusetts law allowing workers to rebut information in their personnel files. The plaintiff, Terence Meehan, is backed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and the American Civil Liberties Union, among other groups.

The case is Meehan v. Medical Information Technology Inc, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, No. SJC-13117. For Meehan: James Kobe. For Medical Information Technology: Scott Brewerton.

9:30 a.m. – Plaintiffs’ firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein will urge a panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule that a judge wrongly lowered the firm’s fee award after it brokered a $300 million settlement in a lawsuit accusing investment firm State Street Corp of defrauding customers in foreign exchange transactions. The judge found that Lieff and other firms including Labaton Sucharow had made false and misleading statements in court filings and lowered their fees from $75 million to $60 million. Lieff says the judge did not follow the proper procedure for making such a ruling.

The case is Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP v. Labaton Sucharow LLP, 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-1069. For Lieff Cabraser: Samuel Issacharoff of NYU School of Law. Amicus in favor of affirmance: Theodore Frank of the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute.

2 p.m. – Lawyers for the U.S. Small Business Administration will ask a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel to throw out a preliminary injunction allowing strip clubs to qualify for a second round of loans through the COVID-19 pandemic-era Paycheck Protection Program. The judge who issued the injunction said the SBA’s decision not to subsidize the clubs violated their free-speech rights. The 7th Circuit last month granted the government a stay of the injunction.

The case is Camelot Banquet Rooms Inc v. U.S. Small Business Administration, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-2589. For the plaintiffs: Bradley Shafer of Shafer & Associates. For the SBA: Courtney Dixon of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Wednesday, Nov. 3

9:30 a.m. – A 7th Circuit panel will consider whether U.S. Steel Corp was justified in refusing to hire a job applicant with epilepsy because he posed a “direct threat” to the health and safety of other workers. A judge said it was reasonable for U.S. Steel to conclude that because Russel Pontinen was not taking medication, his condition at the time was “uncontrolled.”

The case is Pontinen v. U.S. Steel Corp, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-1612. For Pontinen: David Strubbe of Williams Bax & Saltzman. For U.S. Steel: Rodney Torbic of U.S. Steel.

9:30 a.m. – Lawyers for a group representing American tech workers will urge a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to revive a challenge to an Obama-era policy allowing international students with science and technology degrees to work in the U.S. after graduating. The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, represented by the conservative Immigration Reform Law Institute, says the program violates federal law because upon graduating, individuals are no longer “bona fide students” eligible to extend student visas. A coalition of business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce intervened in the case to defend the program.

The case is Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. DHS, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, No. 21-5028. For the plaintiffs: John Miano of the Immigration Reform Law Institute. For DHS: Joshua Press of the U.S. Department of Justice. For the business groups: Paul Hughes of McDermott Will & Emery.

Know of an event that could be included in an upcoming Week Ahead in Employment? Contact Dan Wiessner at daniel.wiessner@thomsonreuters.com.

Daniel Wiessner

Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on labor and employment and immigration law, including litigation and policy making. He can be reached at daniel.wiessner@thomsonreuters.com.

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