Monthly Archives: January 2009

“States’ Rights,” “Judicial Activists” and Other Distractions

There is an interesting brief here, titled “The Supreme Court’s Two-Front War on the Safety Net: A Cautionary Tale for Health Care Reformers,” by attorneys Simon Lazarus and Harper Jean Tobin of the National Senior Citizens Law Center.

The premise of the brief, in a nutshell, is this:

Over the last several decades, conservative members of the Supreme Court have: (1) used Federal-laws-are-supreme theories to weaken individuals’ rights under ERISA (the law that applies to most middle-class individuals’ health insurance benefits); and (2) used States-laws-are-supreme theories to weaken individuals’ rights under Medicaid laws (which apply to most lower-class individuals’ health insurance benefits).

The article argues that the common denominator of the SC’s legal decisions is not their oft-stated pro-“States’-rights” ideology, or their oft-stated pro-federal-law-supremacy ideology (these ideologies are of course contradictory).  Rather, the denominator ideology is to favor businesses’ interests over those of individuals.

Whether or not one believes this article is accurate, I must say I like its approach of looking at what the Court does as opposed to what it says.  One of my law school professors once likened watching court decisions to watching mice run in a maze.  The chatter is not as important as where they go.

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Filed under Philosophy - Employee Rights

Your Comments on Unemployment?

I’ve noticed many folks have viewed the unemployment-related posts on this blog, particularly as of late.

If you get a chance, can you please post a comment on whether the unemployment posts were helpful to you, and how your unemployment hearings went?

(Please note: I’m not asking for your name or case details- I am just curious if the blog information was useful).


Michael Brown

Employee Rights Attorney/Blog Author


Filed under Employee Tip - Unemployment

Employee Tip: Document Your Job-Hunting Efforts, If You Want to Legally Challenge Your Termination

If you are an employee, had your job terminated, and are even thinking you may bring a legal claim against your former employer some day, please know that you should keep documentation relating to your job search efforts.

You may ask, “What does my job-search or new employment have to do with what my old employer did?”  The answer: for most common employment claims (e.g. a claim your termination violated discrimination law), the offending employer can be held responsible for wages you lost (or “back pay”) from the date of your termination forward.  An offending employer could try to legally reduce or eliminate the back pay it has to pay you by claiming that you didn’t look hard enough for a new job (or that you “failed to mitigate damages” in legal speak).

To avoid this potential argument that you failed to mitigate damages or look hard enough for work, you should keep documentation of your job-hunting efforts to remove any doubt that you made reasonable efforts to find work.

What Documentation You Should Keep

To keep good documentation of your job-search efforts, you should:

  • Keep or record information about every prospective employer you contact (e.g. write down the prospective employer’s name, date of call/visit, what job position you inquired about, rate of pay, etc.).
  • Save copies of job-application-related documents (e.g. job ads you reviewed, applications you sent, cover letters, resumes, rejection letters, etc.).
  • Save copies of unemployment-related documents you have (e.g. Wisconsin’s Unemployment division requires that an unemployment claimant-employee contact at least two prospective employers per week, and to keep documentation to that effect).

If you keep these forms of documentation, you will be in a better position for any future legal claim against the employer who terminated your employment.

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Filed under Employee Tip - Considering a Legal Action, Employee Tip - Unemployment