Petitions of the Week
By Andrew Hamm
on February 19, 2021
at 7:36 pm
This week we are highlighting certification requests asking the Supreme Court, among other things, whether a black person’s exposure to a racist surname at work is “sufficiently severe” to create a hostile work environment that violates civil rights law, whether a The court may order a defendant to pay a criminal refund based on facts not ascertained by the jury and whether the Clean Air Act prevents two counties from attempting to question Volkswagen’s emissions software under local tampering laws.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits racial discrimination in relation to “conditions or privileges of employment”. According to the Supreme Court precedent, an employee who challenges a hostile work environment must demonstrate that an employer’s conduct was “sufficiently strict or omnipresent”. An “extremely serious” incident might qualify, but not a “mere offensive statement”.
In Collier v Dallas County Hospital District, the N word is engraved on the side of an elevator that was used to access the hospital cafeteria by Robert Collier, a black man who worked as an assistant in the operating room. Collier reported the graffiti, but the word stayed for six months. Collier also complained about two swastikas that were painted on the wall in a storage room and called “boy” by a white nurse. The US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the behavior does not create a hostile work environment because the behavior is “not physically threatening,” “not directed to Collier,” other than the nurse’s comment, and “does not intervene inappropriately”. with his work performance. However, the 5th Circuit acknowledged that other appeals courts had enabled a jury to find a hostile work environment based on a use of the N word. Collier’s petition asks the judges to review and reverse the 5th circuit’s decision.
In Gilbertson v. USA, a jury found Ryan Gilbertson guilty of manipulating the stock price of a company he co-founded. The government argued that Gilbertson’s motive included a compensation package that gave him a bonus based on stock prices. The district court ordered that Gilbertson repay the $ 15 million he received as a bonus. In its factual findings, however, the jury did not consider the bonus unequivocally in concrete terms, since the government itself had never contested the bonus as illegal. In his petition, Gilbertson asks the judges whether a court’s imposition of a criminal refund for an amount not determined by the jury violates the jury’s rights after the sixth amendment.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency published a “Notice of Violations” against Volkswagen for its “Defeat Devices” software, which enabled their new diesel cars to emit more nitrogen oxides than permitted by EPA regulations. As a result, two districts challenged the defeats under local manipulation laws. The Clean Air Act, which gives the EPA the power to set and enforce emission standards for vehicles, also prohibits states and municipalities from controlling emissions from “new vehicles”. Because of that language, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the Clean Air Act prevented counties from challenging the counties to prevent software updates for the defective devices before the sale but not updates after the sale. Volkswagen claims in its petition, among other things, that the EPA standards regulate the post-sale updates that relate to the original designs of the vehicles, and that the local anti-tampering laws relate to mechanics or consumers disrupting the emissions designs. The case is Volkswagen Group of America Inc. v Environmental Protection Commission from Hillsborough County, Florida.
These and other petitions of the week are listed below:
Gilbertson versus United States
problem: Whether the sixth amendment prohibits a court from ordering a criminal refund on a defendant based on facts that the jury has not unequivocally established.
Kong versus City of Burnsville, Minnesota
problem: Whether an appellate court in the interim review of a refusal of qualified immunity can refuse the determination of a district court on a genuine question of material facts, even if the record does not obviously contradict this determination.
Volkswagen Group of America Inc. v Environmental Protection Commission, Hillsborough County, Florida
problem: If she Clean Air Act Prevents state and local authorities from regulating nationwide updates to vehicle emissions systems after manufacturers have sold them.
Collier v Dallas County Hospital District
Problems: (1) Whether an employee’s exposure to the N-word in the workplace is severe enough to make his or her send Title VII Claim to a hostile work environment on a trier of facts; and (2) whether, and under what circumstances, racist epithets in the workplace are “extremely serious” incidents sufficient to create a hostile work environment as defined in Title VII and not unworkable “mere utterances”.
City of Austin, Texas v Reagan National Advertising of Texas Inc.
problem: Whether Austin City Law’s distinction between potentially digitized on-premise signs and potentially non-digitized off-premise signs is a face-to-face unconstitutional content-based regime Reed versus Town of Gilbert.
Golan v. Send
problem: Whether a district court, after finding that returning to the country of habitual residence presents a serious risk, should consider corrective measures that would facilitate the child’s return despite the finding of a serious risk.