- The company initially faulted his job performance and later said he was dismissed for insubordination. Thompson sued, but a federal judge ruled that he was not protected from retaliation.
"It was wrong, what they did to me," Regalado said. "What they did to Eric was even worse. To get at me, they fired him."
The ruling on this case could have broad impact on complaints about sex, race or age discrimination on the job.
- Whether drugmaker Matrixx illegally withheld information from investors by failing to disclose reports of adverse reactions to its drugs. Federal law says a company can be held liable for not reporting information that might affect decisions to buy or sell its stock.
A group of shareholders sued Matrixx and its top officials, accusing them of withholding information about Zicam, a cold medication, and reports that it caused loss of smell. The company's stock shares dropped 12 percent in one day when the side effect became public. Stocks are often prominent in retirement portfolios, and this case could affect investors' ability to sue to protect their investments.
Kagan's appointment could weaken the liberal wing of the court because she has recused herself from half the court's cases this term. "There could be an unfavorable impact," Lazarus said. "It's the price we have to pay when the court gets a new justice who is well qualified and we hope will be around a long time."
Cases on the court's docket address age and disability discrimination, veterans benefits, consumer protection and employee benefits. The court may yet decide to hear a class-action sex discrimination case brought against Wal-Mart as well as the multistate challenge to the new federal health care law.
As for their customary low profile, the justices took a small step this fall by deciding to regularly release audio recordings of oral arguments. But TV cameras still are not allowed in the court, and last spring the front entrance to the Supreme Court was closed to the public for security reasons. Not surprisingly, that move was accompanied by a dissent — from Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer — lamenting the symbolism of doors now closed.
For more information, check out the AARP lawyers' analysis of cases before the Supreme Court.
John C. Henry has been a reporter and editor in Washington since 1998.
Supreme Court Photo: (1) Sonia Sotomayor (2) Stephen Breyer
(3) Samuel Alito (4) Elena Kagan (5) Clarence Thomas (6) Antonin Scalia (7) Chief Justice John Roberts (8) Anthony Kennedy (9) Ruth Bader Ginsburg