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What is the significance of the Supreme Court case 556 U.S. 247?

The 556 U.S.

247 case is known as 14 Penn Plaza LLC v.

Pyett, a 2009 Supreme Court decision that dealt with the ability of unions to require their members to arbitrate discrimination claims.

The case involved a collective bargaining agreement between the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ and the building owners that required union members to arbitrate any discrimination claims, including those under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the union could require its members to arbitrate ADEA claims, overturning a previous appeals court decision that had found the arbitration clause unenforceable.

The Court's majority opinion, written by Justice Thomas, held that the National Labor Relations Act permits unions to bargain about mandatory arbitration of statutory discrimination claims.

This was a significant departure from the Court's 1974 decision in Alexander v.

Gardner-Denver Co., which had held that arbitration of discrimination claims did not preclude a subsequent lawsuit.

The 14 Penn Plaza decision was controversial, with the dissenting justices arguing it undermined employees' ability to vindicate their civil rights in court.

The case has been criticized by some as allowing unions to waive their members' right to bring discrimination claims in court, potentially leaving workers with fewer avenues for redress.

However, proponents argue that the decision reinforces the freedom of contract between unions and employers and promotes the use of efficient arbitration procedures.

The 14 Penn Plaza case built upon the Court's earlier decision in Gilmer v.

Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., which had upheld mandatory arbitration of ADEA claims for non-unionized employees.

The ruling has been seen as part of a broader trend of the Supreme Court favoring arbitration over litigation, particularly in the employment context.

The case has had lasting impacts, with many unions now including mandatory arbitration clauses in their collective bargaining agreements to avoid potential discrimination lawsuits.

Some legal scholars have argued that 14 Penn Plaza represents a narrowing of workers' rights and a strengthening of employers' ability to limit access to the courts.

The decision has also raised questions about the role of unions in protecting their members' civil rights, with concerns that mandatory arbitration may undermine this traditional union function.

Overall, the 14 Penn Plaza case has been a significant and controversial development in the intersection of labor law, civil rights, and dispute resolution.

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