Showing 14 results
Allison Stevens, Dave Owen, Michael C. Duff, Noah Sachs | November 18, 2022
We asked several of our Member Scholars how the election outcomes will affect policy going forward in our three priority policy areas. Today’s post covers the implications for public protections such as environmental health, clean air and water, and workers’ rights.
Michael C. Duff | June 23, 2022
The Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously struck down a Washington state law that was aimed at helping federal contract employees get workers' compensation for diseases arising from cleaning up nuclear waste. The case, United States v. Washington, concerned the federally controlled Hanford nuclear reservation, a decommissioned facility that spans 586 square miles near the Columbia River. The reservation, formerly used by the federal government in the production of nuclear weapons, presents unique hazards to cleanup workers.
Michael C. Duff | April 21, 2022
It might not be easy to get to the merits of United States v. Washington. A funny thing happened on the way to oral argument: The state of Washington modified the 2018 workers' compensation law at the center of the case, raising the prospect that there is no longer a live dispute for the justices to resolve.
Michael C. Duff | April 15, 2022
Under established constitutional law, states may generally not tax or regulate property or operations of the federal government. This principle is known as intergovernmental immunity. Congress may waive this federal immunity, however, and the scope of that principle is the major issue in Monday’s oral argument in United States v. Washington.
Michael C. Duff | July 2, 2020
Workers' compensation was created as a means to an end and not an end in itself. It addressed the outrageous frequency of workplace injury and death caused by railroads in the late 19th/early 20th century. The unholy trinity of employers' affirmative tort defenses – assumption of the risk, contributory negligence, and the fellow servant rule – meant that workers or their survivors were not being compensated adequately or, in many cases, not at all. For this reason, expert American investigators were dispatched to Europe between 1909 and 1911 to study the existing workers' compensation systems there. Our current system was the result.
Michael C. Duff | June 15, 2020
While I suspect that workers' compensation claims, even without the aid of workers' compensation causation presumptions, may fare better than some actuaries suspected (preliminary scuttlebutt of about a 40 percent success rate is higher than I expected), there is no reasonable doubt that large numbers of workers will ultimately go uncovered under workers' compensation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michael C. Duff | June 3, 2020
For decades, commentators have complained about how long it can take for workers attempting to unionize to simply get an election in which workers make an up-or-down decision on whether to form a union. For many years, employers were able to raise hyper-formalistic legal arguments that took so long to resolve that the employees initially interested in forming a union had often moved on to other employment. In far too many cases, employers also unlawfully coerce workers during the delay, and those workers eventually withdraw their support for the union. After much internal wrangling, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) enacted a series of new election procedures in 2014, but after Donald Trump took office, the Board published a “Request for Information” in December 2017 that implicitly questioned the continuing need for, and efficacy of, a rule that was little more than two years old.
Michael C. Duff | May 21, 2020
A recent, interesting lawsuit filed against McDonald's, in Cook County, Illinois, suffers from few of the deficiencies that I have identified in prior postings about public nuisance cases related to COVID-19. The named employee-plaintiffs allege "negligence" in what might look at first blush like a drop-dead workers' compensation case. This time, however, there is a wrinkle.
Michael C. Duff | May 14, 2020
Listening in on Tuesday's Senate Hearing on Corporate Liability During the Coronavirus Pandemic, I was especially pleased to hear workers' compensation immunity discussed. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island specifically asked whether blanket corporate immunity would constitute subsidization of workers' compensation insurers. Witness Professor David Vladeck of Georgetown University Law Center responded that it very well could if workers' compensation were not carved out of the bill. I did not hear anyone contend during the hearing that workers' compensation could not be part of an immunity blanket, which is food for thought.