The Center News is a monthly publication that highlights significant cases affecting manufacturers. The NAM’s Manufacturers' Center for Legal Action becomes involved in many of these cases to provide the judicial branch with an important perspective it might not otherwise hear. The NAM provides a voice for all manufacturers working to remain competitive amid the complexities of today’s legal system.
January 15, 2014
By Patrick Forrest, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel
Last June, without any provocation or advance notice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) delivered an e-mail blast to the business inboxes of 1,169 Case New Holland (CNH) employees. The blast e-mail advised the employees, including more than 100 managers, that the EEOC was investigating the company for age discrimination. It then directed the employees to provide the government evidence of discrimination and personal contact information through a secure Internet site. The EEOC later admitted that it was trolling for class-action plaintiffs to sue CNH.
CNH filed a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that the EEOC overstepped its authority under its governing statutes and the U.S. Constitution. After the EEOC moved to dismiss the complaint, the NAM filed an amicus brief opposing dismissal and stating that the EEOC’s actions constitute an unlawful taking of the time during which plaintiffs’ pay their employees to conduct work. The EEOC then took the highly unusual step of replying to our brief, calling it “unprecedented” and asking for an extension to file its full reply. The substance of the EEOC’s full reply demonstrates the significance of the NAM’s argument.
The NAM is working on a merits brief expanding on our arguments—namely, that the EEOC violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
Supreme Court Deals Setback to Class Action Fairness Act: On January 14, the Supreme Court ruled that the Class Action Fairness Act’s (CAFA) removal requirements do not apply in a case brought by the attorney general of Mississippi on behalf of the state’s citizens. The NAM filed an amicus brief arguing that there should be no presumption against the removal of such cases from state court. Our novel argument is still available for future cases, since the Court focused its ruling on the unique nature of suits brought by state attorneys general.l
Conflict Minerals Rules Meet Resistance in Appeals Court: Earlier this month, a federal appeals court heard arguments in the NAM’s challenge to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) conflict minerals rules. The SEC faced difficult questioning about its rule and First Amendment objections to it. A decision is expected before May 31, when companies must submit reports required by the regulation.
FDA No-Call Adds More Uncertainty: Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to stay out of the fray surrounding the labeling of food products. Consumers across the country have filed lawsuits alleging that food bearing labels describing the product as “natural” contained genetically modified ingredients. As Reuters’ Alison Frankel reports, some judges put the cases on hold to wait for the FDA to issue guidance on food labeling. The FDA won’t be issuing that guidance.
As a result, “individual federal judges—‘probably the least equipped of all lawmakers,’ [the Washington Legal Foundation’s Glenn Lammi] said—will have to make their own determinations about labeling of genetically modified foods. The outcome will probably be a confusing patchwork of judicial decisions—and more litigation over bio-engineered ingredients.”
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