Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Appeals Court Ruling Sets Back Equal Pay for Women

Imani Gandy & Jessica Mason Pieklo

The Ninth Circuit Court chooses a history of inequitable pay over gender fairness. Elsewhere, a woman sues her employer for firing her because she wouldn't distribute Christian literature, and an Amish community says it has a religious right to go without a home sewage system.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that employers can legally pay women less than men for the same work as long as those women have always been paid less than men for the same work. Seems like a good way to reward employers for perpetuating systemic income inequality.

Two residents of Mercer County, West Virginia, are mounting a court challenge to the county’s policy of permitting an optional weekly Bible class in school, claiming that it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the West Virginia constitution.

Disgraced Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore can’t catch a break: The Alabama Supreme Court—yes, the same court where he once presided—upheld the Alabama Court of Judiciary’s decision to remove him from the bench for various ethical breaches. But Moore’s got his eyes on a bigger prize. Infamous for the Ten Commandments plaque he installed in the state’s judicial building and for his opposition to same-sex marriage, Moore is now seeking one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats.

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Conspiracy enthusiast and right-wing radio personality Alex Jones is in hot water with Chobani: In a lawsuit, the yogurt maker alleges that Jones posted fake news linking Chobani’s owner, Hamdi Ulukaya, to a sexual assault case involving refugee children.

Two lawsuits were filed last week—one in state court and one in federal court—alleging that the New York subway system discriminates against wheelchair users.

A Texas woman has sued her employer, Gulf Winds International, for religious discrimination and retaliation after she was fired for not being Christian enough. Her employer allegedly told her she “needed to examine her walk with Jesus” after she refused to give out religious literature on the job.

An anti-choice group, Family Foundation of Virginia, has filed a lawsuit challenging amendments to a state regulation eliminating requirements that abortion clinics be retrofitted as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). The U.S. Supreme Court deemed such ASC requirements unconstitutional in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

The Idaho Supreme Court will allow a lawsuit to proceed about the state’s underfunded public defender system, with one caveat: The suit cannot move forward with Gov. Butch Otter (R) as a defendant.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a Missouri heroin dealer’s claim that his prosecution violated his religious rights since heroin distribution was an exercise of his religious beliefs. Nice try, buddy.

A group of Amish people are suing the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. They argue that the agency’s insistence that members of their community—many of whom eschew modern conveniences like electricity and cars—install home sewage systems violates their right to religious freedom.

A Native transgender woman was turned away from a Christian shelter in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, because she was wearing a dress. A staff member at the facility told her she could not come back until she “dressed like a man.”

The Connecticut Supreme Court is poised to issue a ruling determining whether medical providers have a duty to keep patients’ medical records confidential. But didn’t they already have such a duty? Yeah, I thought so too.

A federal court in Arkansas ruled that the state’s disorderly conduct statute is constitutional in a lawsuit by two participants in an anti-abortion event. Participants in the event interfered with clinic traffic and disturbed local businesses.

The ACLU has settled a lawsuit brought by a transgender employee against San Franscisco-based Dignity Health, challenging the health-care system’s refusal to provide insurance coverage for sex reassignment surgery. The settlement amount is $25,000.

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