President Obama on Tuesday nominated federal appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 54, to the U.S. Supreme Court. She would be the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice. Sotomayor was appointed to the bench George Bush, and nominated to the Circuit Court of Appeals by Bill Clinton. Some business interests are cheering the nomination. However, she is endorsed by quite a few labor organizations, including the AFL-CIO, the Coalition of Labor Union Women and NELA, which said this about her in its May 27, 2009 press release:
As a District and Circuit Judge, Judge Sotomayor has enforced the rights of all individuals to be free from discrimination in the workplace, to be paid wages that they have earned, to receive benefits to which they are entitled, and to be free from retaliation for standing up for their rights. Her record in employment cases is an example of the impartiality and open mind that she will bring to the Supreme Court.
Her most famous case is probably a 1995 District Court decision in which Sotomayor issued an injunction, favoring Major League Baseball players over owners, that led to the end of the 1994-95 MLB strike that had caused the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee (S.D.N.Y. 1995) 880 F.Supp. 246. At the moment, the case that seems to be gathering the most attention is an unpublished 2008 per curiam opinion in Ricci v. DeStefano(SCOTUS Case Nos. 07-1428 & 08-328), in which she joined the majority in supporting the city of New Haven, Connecticut's decision to leave firefighter positions unfilled after testing that would have resulted in 17 white candidates and 1 Hispanic candidate being hired, to the exclusion of several black applicants. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari and heard arguments in the case last month. She also ruled against the plaintiffs in Clarett v. National Football League(2nd Cir. 2004) 369 F.3d 124, the case that left Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett and USC wide receiver Mike Williams ineligible to join the NFL after their sophomore seasons. Some other notable decisions:
- Singh v. City of New York (2nd Cir. 2001) 524 F.3d 361, upholding the denial of commuting time claims in an FLSA case;
- In re Visa Check (2nd Cir. 2001) 280 F.3d 124, upholding class certification in a consumer case against VISA and Mastercard;
- Raniola v. Bratton (2nd Cir. 2001) 243 F.3d 610, reversing the dismissal of a female police officer’s complaint for discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment;
- Moore v. Consolidated Edison Co. (2nd Cir. 2001) 409 F.3d 506, upholding the denial of injunctive relief for an employee claiming wrongful termination;
- Washington v. County of Rockland (2nd Cir. 2001) 373 F.3d 310, upholding summary judgment in a race discrimination case;
- Williams v. R.H. Donnelley Corp. (2nd Cir. 2004) 368 F.3d 123, upholding summary judgment in an employment discrimination case;
- Parker v. Columbia Pictures Industries (2nd Cir. 2000) 204 F.3d 326, reversing an employer's summary judgment in an ADA case;
- Cruz v. Coach Stores (2nd Cir. 2000) 202 F.3d 560, reversing summary judgment for an employer on a harassment claim, but affirming it on discrimination and retaliation claims;
- White v. White Rose Food (2nd Cir. 2001) 237 F.3d 174, reversing a bench decision in favor of the employee in a § 301 case;
- Leventhal v. Knapek (2nd Cir. 2001) 266 F.3d 64, upholding summary judgment against an employee in a privacy case;
- Higgins v. Metro-North R.R. Co. (2nd Cir. 2003) 318 F.3d 422, concurring to uphold summary judgment for an employer in a FELA case;
- Norville v. Staten Island University Hospital (2nd Cir. 1999) 196 F.3d 89, affirming summary judgment for an employer on race and age discrimination claims, and reversing a jury verdict in favor of employer on an ADA claim.
For more information, check out this Jottings by an Employer's Lawyer blog post by Michael Fox, who has assembled a more inclusive list, including dissents and some of her District Court rulings from her six years on the bench in the Southern District of New York. The only one dealing with wage and hour issues was Realite v. Ark Restaurants (S.D. N.Y. 1998) 7 F.Supp.2d 303, 4 WH Cases 2d 1207 in which she granted conditional class certification and the sending of a class notice in an FLSA collective action.