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Verrill Dana, LLP

Verrill Dana, LLP is one of New England's preeminent regional law firms. With offices in Portland and Augusta, ME; Boston, MA; Westport, CT; Providence, RI; and Washington D.C. Verrill Dana provides sophisticated legal representation to businesses and individuals in the traditional areas of litigation, real estate, business law, labor and employment law, employee benefits, environmental law, intellectual property and estate planning.  The Firm also has industry-focused specialties including higher education, health care and health technology, energy, and timberlands. 

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Entries in Supreme Court (25)


Service Advisor Question Sent Back to Ninth Circuit

The Supreme Court issued its decision today in Encino MotorCars, LLC v. Navarro. A background of the case is available here, but the question at issue was whether service advisors at car dealerships are exempt from the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements.

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4-4 Split at Supreme Court Allows Public Unions to Continue Collecting Agency Fees from Non-Members

On March 29, 2016, the Supreme Court issued a one sentence decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.” Friedrichs is the second 4-4 decision of the term, a circumstance brought about by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.

As previously discussed here, the plaintiffs in Friedrichs sought to overturn a 1977 Supreme Court decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which held that public unions can make non-members pay agency fees. Both the District Court and the Ninth Circuit had dismissed the plaintiffs’ case, finding that the outcome was controlled by Abood. Therefore, the plaintiffs’ only chance of changing the law and overturning Abood was having the Supreme Court find in their favor. However, with the 4-4 split of the Court, the decision of the Ninth Circuit was affirmed, leaving intact Abood’s holding and allowing public unions to continue collecting agency fees from non-members.

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Supreme Court to Review “Service Advisors” Entitlement to Overtime

On Friday, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in a case where it will determine “whether ‘service advisors’ at car dealerships are exempt . . . from the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements.” Up for review is the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, No. 13-55323 (9th Cir. Mar. 24, 2015), in which the Ninth Circuit found that Mercedes Benz “service advisors” did not personally service automobiles and therefore were not subject to the overtime exemption. The “service advisors” instead, “meet and greet Mercedes Benz owners as they enter the service area of the dealership and then . . . evaluate the service and/or repair needs of the vehicle owner in light of complaints given them by these vehicle owners.” The plaintiff employees were paid on a commission basis only, receiving neither hourly wages or a salary.

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Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument on Whether Agency Fees Paid to Public Sector Unions Constitute Compelled Speech in Violation of the First Amendment

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case that could significantly inhibit public unions’ abilities to collect dues from non-members. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education in 1977, the courts have distinguished between fees charged by unions for representing public sector workers (“agency fees”) and fees charged by unions for financing their political activities. While public unions may not charge non-members fees associated with their political activities, they are permitted under current law to charge non-members for agency fees. The plaintiffs in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association seek to change that.

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“Mark of the Beast” Does Not Leave Its Mark on the High Court

Yesterday the Supreme Court refused to grant certiorari in Yeager v. FirstEnergy Generation Corp., No. 14-1302 (cert. denied 10/5/2015), the case we previously brought to your attention in which an Ohio court found that an applicant’s refusal to provide a social security number because it would “cause him to have the ‘Mark of the Beast’ which his religion prohibits” was an insufficient allegation to maintain a claim of religious discrimination. Earlier this year, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the Ohio court’s decision that the employer’s refusal to hire him did not amount to religious discrimination. See Yeager v. FirstEnergy Generation Corp., 777 F.3d 362 (6th Cir. 2015). The Supreme Court’s refusal to grant certiorari allows employers to rest assured that insofar as an employee argues that their refusal to provide a social security number because of his or her fundamentalist Christian belief that the number is the “Mark of the Beast,” will not result in liablity in the Sixth Circuit for a claim of religious discrimination.


High Court Demands Higher Obligation When Dealing With Highest Power: EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.

Today the Supreme Court issued a decision in the highly anticipated case of EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch. Background on the case is available here, as is access to the “look policy” which we originally discussed here. The question before the Court involved whether the employer or the employee had an affirmative duty to determine whether a religious accommodation may be necessary to accommodate an applicant’s religious practices or observations. In the Abercrombie case, the interviewee wore a headscarf to her interview which violated Abercrombie’s “look policy” which did not allow “hats” at work.

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