Donald Trump

Gorsuch Rulings in Some Notable Employees' Rights Cases

The Supreme Court justice pick has tackled sex, racial and disability discrimination, among other workplace issues

President Donald Trump's pick to fill a Supreme Court vacancy has heard dozens of workers' rights cases on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Many conservatives hail Neil Gorsuch for sticking to the letter of the law and not letting personal views influence his rulings. Detractors note that he has, more often than not, sided with employers.

Some notable employee rights cases on which he has ruled:

Strickland v. UPS: United Parcel Service worker Carole Strickland accused UPS of sex discrimination and of retaliating against her for taking two weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to deal with stress. Gorsuch disagreed with the majority that found UPS had discriminated against her based on her gender in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He wrote in his 2009 dissent that the allegation had not been proved, noting three male workers said the supervisor "harassed male employees in very much the same manner." Gorsuch did agree with the majority on the retaliation claim.

Young v. Dillon Companies: Everett Young, who is black, alleged racial discrimination under Title VII after Dillon's King Soopers in Colorado fired him as a grocery store investigator. Young accused one boss of calling him "a monkey." Gorsuch, writing the majority opinion, said the boss's alleged statements "evince a deep and repugnant racial animus." But Gorsuch said Young needed to prove racism led directly to his dismissal. The judge concluded Young had not and that the store had reason to dismiss him for misrepresenting his working hours.

Hwang v. Kansas State: Ex-Kansas State professor Grace Hwang sued the school after it wouldn't extend her six months' sick leave for cancer treatment, then wouldn't rehire her. She sued the university for discrimination based on disability. Gorsuch wrote the 2014 majority opinion siding with the school. "Hwang's is a terrible problem, one in no way of her own making," he wrote. But U.S. law "seeks to prevent employers from callously denying reasonable accommodations that permit otherwise qualified disabled persons to work — not to turn employers into safety net providers for those who cannot work."

TransAm Trucking v. Administrative Review Board: Gorsuch dissented in a 2016 decision regarding truck driver Alphonse Maddin, who was fired for disobeying a boss' order to stay with his cargo after the brakes on his trailer froze. As his body went numb from cold when his cabin heating malfunctioned, Maddin unhitched the trailer and drove off. A majority of judges said federal law protected drivers from dismissal when they refuse to operate an unsafe vehicle. But Gorsuch said that protection didn't apply to Maddin because he drove away and wasn't refusing to drive.

Jensen v. Solvay Chemicals, Inc.: A 2013 majority opinion by Gorsuch stemmed from employees of Solvay Chemicals, Inc., accusing the company of dropping an early retirement benefit without giving proper notice. Gorsuch said the workers could have prevailed had they proved Solvay's lack of notice was, as U.S. law states, "egregious." To be egregious, he said, lack of notice had to have an element of intention and it wasn't clear whether Solvay intentionally didn't give proper notice.

Hollingshead v. Blue Cross: Gorsuch agreed with a 2007 majority opinion in a case of an Oklahoma woman who sued her employer's insurance company for refusing to pay for her second organ transplant. Blue Cross paid for Donna Hollingshead's first transplant. But when that initial liver failed and she required a second to live, the insurance company refused to compensate her. The 10th Circuit found the plan was not, as Hollingshead argued, ambiguous, and indicated clearly enough that the plan covered one transplant. "We cannot escape the conclusion," the majority opinion said, "that 'one organ' means 'one organ.'"

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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