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Few cases this term have been as closely watched, or are as far reaching, as the Epic Systems v. Lewis case. The 5 to 4 decision handed down by the Court in the wage theft case held that arbitration agreements in employment contracts that ban collective action are enforceable.

For the estimated 25 million U.S. workers currently subject to these types of employment agreements, this decision is bad news. As some Court watchers are reporting, this opens up the potential for employers to go Lex Luther on their employees and steal just a little bit from each one in amounts so small, they don't even notice (or can't financially justify taking legal action).

After several years of appeals, the United States Supreme Court has weighed in, again, on the debate over whether car dealership service advisors are entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act, in Encino Motorcars v. Navarro. The case ping-ponged from the district to appellate court, to SCOTUS, then back down and back up to SCOTUS again.

The case, filed back in 2012, sought back pay for car dealership service advisors. The basis of the case was a new 2011 Department of Labor interpretation of the FLSA which seemed to remove service advisors from the specific overtime exemption which covered "any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles, trucks, or farm implements."

Court Narrows Whistleblower Remedies

Contrary to popular opinion, liberal and conservative justices see cases the same way sometimes.

In Digital Realty Trust v. Somers, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously threw out a whistleblower case against a company that allegedly violated securities laws. It wasn't about workers' rights v. big business; it was about the plain meaning of the law.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the acknowledged left-end of the panel, said whistleblowers must inform the Securities and Exchange Commission before suing under the Dodd-Frank Act.

It seems that the U.S. Supreme Court is not shying away from difficult questions. This term, the High Court has agreed to take up the Janus v. American Federation case which dismissed a constitutional challenge to a requirement for non-union members to pay "fair share" dues.

As the law stands now, under Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, non-members can legally be required to pay "fair share" dues because the non-member employees also benefit from the union's collective bargaining. The question being presented to the Court is whether these non-member dues violate the First Amendment, particularly given that unions can often be rather political.

Susan Fowler, the ex-Uber engineer whose viral blog post about the hostile working environment she endured while working for the booming ride-hailing app, has filed an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court.

In addition to detailing her harrowing experience, her brief argues in support of invalidating forced employee/contractor arbitration clauses, which is at issue in a set of three cases which the High Court has consolidated. Specifically at issue in the cases before SCOTUS is whether bans on class actions and collective actions through arbitration agreements violates federal law.

Neil Gorsuch participated in his first oral arguments as a Supreme Court justice this morning, in a case involving the judicial review of federal civil service disputes. And if you expected to see a new side of Neil Gorsuch on the bench, well, you might be disappointed.

Gorsuch has claimed, loudly and repeatedly, to be a strict textualist, a judge in the mold of Antonin Scalia. And his questions today remained decidedly within that line of thought, as the new justice returned again and again to the plain language of the statute at issue.

As the new Supreme Court term gets ever closer, we can start to see how the upcoming months might play out: some intriguing criminal cases, important debates about race and the justice system, a fascinating free exercise issue involving used tires, and very little labor law.

Of the 31 cert petitions the Court has granted for the new term, only one directly involves labor and employment law issues: National Labor Relations Board v. SW General, over whether the NLRB's former acting general counsel could properly bring unfair labor practice complaints. It's a case dealing with arcane but important issues, with potentially significantly impacts not just the Board but the entire federal bureaucracy.

When Jeffrey Heffernan, a police officer in Paterson, New Jersey, was spotted with a campaign sign for his mayor's political challenger, he was quickly demoted, as punishment for his "overt involvement" in the opponent's campaign. Heffernan sued, arguing that the demotion violated his First Amendment rights. And he would have had a fairly straight-forward case, except for one complication. Heffernan hadn't been involved in the opponent's campaign. Not at all. He'd just been picking up a sign for his bedridden mother.

Could he sue for a violation of a constitutional right he hadn't actually exercised? Yes, the Supreme Court ruled today, finding that employees who have been punished in order to prevent them from engaging in protected political activity can sue, even when the employer's actions were based on a mistaken understanding of the employee's behavior.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what an out-of-balance Supreme Court looks like. Today, a deadlocked Court issued a one sentence ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, an important and highly-anticipated case about agency fees for public employee unions.

Perhaps to avoid a similar outcome in a challenge to Obamacare contraception rules, the Court also shifted gears in that case. Less than a week after oral arguments -- arguments which indicated an equally divided Court -- the Court has asked the parties to submit possible alternative systems to the current exemption procedures for religious employers who do not want to provide birth control coverage to their employees. Let's take a closer look at these two messes.

The Supreme Court heard lively oral arguments this morning in a case over whether religious organizations must comply with Affordable Care Act rules on the provisioning of contraception through employee health insurance plans.

Those employers, which include religious universities, hospitals, and one group of nuns, don't actually provide contraception directly, however. They are already exempt from that requirement. Once they notify the government of their objections, their insurer handles employee contraception on its own. But even that, the employers argued before the Supreme Court today, is too great a burden on their religious beliefs. Here's how the arguments went down.