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Court hands down employment, ERISA, criminal rulings and more

A plaintiff who does not file a timely charge challenging the adoption of an employment practice may still assert a disparate impact claim challenging the employer’s later application of that practice as long as he can make a prima facie disparate impact case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today.

That opinion in Lewis v. Chicago – known by some as the other firefighters’ discrimination case – was one of seven case opinions the Court issued this morning.

In Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., the Court ruled that an ERISA plaintiff need not be a “prevailing party” to be eligible for an attorney’s fees award under a related fee-shifting statute.

In U.S. v. O’Brien, the Court ruled that the use of a machine gun is an element to be proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt, not a sentencing factor to be proved to the judge at sentencing.

The Court also held that the plain error review standard does not require the reversal of a conviction where part of the conduct took place before the criminal statute was enacted. That ruling came in U.S. v. Marcus.

In American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, the Court held that decisions about licensing of NFL teams’ separately owned intellectual property constitute concerted activity and are thus covered by §1 of the Sherman Act.

The Court also issued a per curiam opinion in the criminal case Jefferson v. Upton, and dismissed the criminal contempt case Robertson v. U.S. ex rel. Watson as improvidently granted.

The justices also added five cases to its docket for next term. But the Court declined to grant certiorari the closely-watched case Textron v. U.S., which asked whether work product doctrine prevents tax officials from examining materials prepared by attorneys in support of audited corporate financial statements. More on that case here from Lawyers USA.

Much more on this very busy day at the Court to come on this blog, and on Lawyers USA online.

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