Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Mariana One of the best things about the annual conference of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (besides the lovely environs) is the Labor and Employment Law programming, and this year was no exception. There were three panels and a discussion group all devoted to labor and employment issues. Each one gave us lots to think about, and the level of discussion was excellent. Feel free to chime in with additional impressions (for those who were there) or questions in the comments.

On Thursday was:

  • Collective Bargaining Issues as Several Sports’ Labor Contracts Expire
    • Moderator: Professor Jonathan Cardi, Wake Forest University School of Law
      • Speakers: Professor Gabriel Feldman, Tulane University Law School; 
      • Professor Robert Barry, Boston College Law School; 
      • Professor Timothy Davis, Wake Forest University School of Law; 
      • Professor William Gould, Stanford University School of Law

Then on Friday, 

  • The State of Labor and Employment Law in Light of Recent Supreme Court Decisions
    • Moderator: Professor Jeffrey Hirsch, University of North Carolina School of Law
      • Speakers: Professor Theresa M. Beiner, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law;
      • Professor Henry Chambers, Jr., University of Richmond School of Law;
      • Professor Cynthia Nance, University of Arkansas School of Law;
      • Professor Suzette Malveaux, The Catholic University of America: Columbus School of Law;
      • Professor Marcia McCormick Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Discussion Group: Should Employment Claims Continue to Be Arbitrated?
    • Moderator: Professor Ariana Levinson, University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
      • Discussants: Professor Richard Bales, Northern Kentucky University, Salmon P. Chase College of Law;
      • Professor Kristen Blankley, University of Nebraska College of Law;
      • Professor Thomas Burch, The University of Georgia School of Law; 
      • Professor Andrea Doneff, Atlanta's John Marshall Law School; 
      • Professor Michael Green, Texas Wesleyan University School of Law; 
      • Professor Dennis Nolan, University of South Carolina School of Law; 
      • Professor Marcia McCormick, Saint Louis University School of Law; 
      • Professor Kathryn Sabbeth, University of North Carolina School of Law; 
      • Professor Steven Ware, University of Kansas School of Law; 
      • Professor Michael Yelnosky, Roger Williams University School of Law
  • Twombly & Iqbal in the Workplace
    • Speakers: Benjamin Cooper, The University of Mississippi School of Law; 
    • Professor Suzette Malveaux, The Catholic University of America: Columbus School of Law; 
    • Professor Joseph Seiner, University of South Carolina School of Law; 
    • Professor Suja Thomas, University of Illinois College of Law

I missed Thursday's panel, so I can't comment on the focus of that discussion, but if any readers were there, please chime in in the comments. Friday's summary of the Supreme Court cases focused on North American Stainless, the third-party retaliation case, Staub, the cat's paw case (and we all agreed that was a terrible analogy); Whiting, Arizona's immigration-employment law case; Wal-Mart, the gender class action, and Concepcion, the arbitration case. Not only was each case interesting on its own, but the comparison and contrasts between them were fascinating.

The arbitration discussion group had a very broad focus on how arbitration works or should work in the employment law (rather than labor) context. Discussants came from a variety of perspectives, and the discussion involving members of the audience was especially interesting. It is not clear that management or employee advocates are as interested in arbitration as they once were.

Finally, the panel on Iqbal and Twombly was very illuminating about the effects those decisions have had on employment discrimination cases. Maybe not surprisingly, employment discrimination case dismissals have risen significantly at a greater rate than other types of cases since Twiqbal, as the two Supreme Court decisions have come to be known. At the same time, the conditions may be getting riper for rule reform in the next few years to reverse those effects.


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