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Supreme Court Update: Sarbanes-Oxley

- The Court has upheld most of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, enacted in response to the accounting scandals at Enron and other companies. However, the Court did overturn part of the law that required that members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, established to monitor accounting firms, be fired only for “cause.” The Court said that the board members may be fired at will.


- The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to reexamine Chicago’s handgun ban (.pdf). The Court did not rule on the constitutionality of the ban, but it did stress that owning firearms is a “fundamental” right.

Protecting Court: A Practitioner's Guide to Court Security

- Need to know about courthouse security, look no further than this book.


- A woman has been awarded more than $1 million in damages after she was repeatedly harassed by a coworker who made disparaging racial and sexual remarks (.pdf). The woman’s managers refused to take action until the harasser physically assaulted the woman. (Freeman v. Whirlpool Corporation, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, No. 3:06-0593, 2009)

Elsewhere in the Courts: Racial Discrimination

- A federal appeals court has ruled that an employee, Dennis Ford, may not sue his employer for racial discrimination because the discrimination was not severe enough and Ford failed to pursue his complaint adequately. Ford claimed that one of his coworkers called him a “black African American,” and “black man,” on a regular basis. However, Ford reported the incident only once and during the complaint was more concerned about other issues, such as an impending raise. In addition, the name-calling stopped after the offending employee was reprimanded. (Ford v. Minteq Shapes and Services, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 09-2140, 2009)


- A federal appeals court has ruled that a school district did not violate the law when it failed to mention that a school teacher had sexually harassed his students. The district was not liable for the actions of that teacher, who went on to harass students at another school.

U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies "Honest Services" Fraud

- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a lower court must reexamine the conviction of former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling because of the "honest services" statute's vagueness.

Supreme Court Rules Against Officers in Privacy Case

- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a police department did not violate the constitutional rights of police officers when it read through their text messages. The review of the text messages did not violate the Fourth Amendment, according to the ruling, because it was undertaken for work-related purposes and was not excessive in scope.

Advocacy Group Claims Ruling Illegally Expands Privacy Protections to Companies

- A nonprofit advocacy group claims that a appellate court decision guts the Freedom of Information Act by applying its privacy protections to companies.

Customs Search that Uncovered Child Pornography is Constitutional

- The suspicionless search of a crewmember’s cabin aboard a ship did not violate the crewmember’s Fourth Amendment rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Age Discrimination

- A federal appeals court will allow a 58-year-old executive to pursue an age discrimination lawsuit against his employer. The highly praised executive was fired and replaced with a younger man. The court noted that a management consultant had suggested that the company enlist “young, energetic” people, a phrase that the company’s president repeated and wrote out in his notes. (Inman v. Klockner Pentaplast of America, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, No. 08-1882, 2009)

Workplace Safety

- A construction worker who was severely injured after being shocked by an ungrounded fixture on a worksite sued his employer, a subcontractor. A California appeals court, however, ruled that the subcontractor did not have a duty to protect employees from the hazard it did not create, although it did have a duty to report the incident to the main contractor or the property owner.

Medical Testing

- A federal appeals court has ruled that an employee may pursue his claim against a prospective employer who refused to hire him after learning that he suffered from epilepsy. The court found that a jury must determine whether questions asked after the employee failed a drug test violated federal law against preemployment medical inquiries.

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