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Supreme Court considers securities fraud, employment discrimination cases

The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF; merit briefs] Tuesday in Janus Capital Group v. First Derivative Traders [oral arguments transcript, PDF; JURIST report], a securities fraud case. The question before the court is whether a service provider can be held primarily liable in a private securities fraud suit for aiding and participating in another company's misstatements. Section 10(b) of the Securities and Exchange Act [materials] prohibits any manipulation or deception in connection with the purchase or sale of securities, but it is unclear whether the liability associated with the act extends to service providers that aided in the selling of securities where misinformation was involved. The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned [opinion, PDF] the district court decision and allowed a class action against the petitioner to proceed, holding that a service provider may be liable for securities fraud. There is currently a circuit split on this issue.

In Thompson v. North American Stainless [oral arguments transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the court heard arguments on whether a third party is afforded protection against retaliation when they have made claims about bias in the workplace that were not directly related to their own treatment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act [42 USC § 2000e-3(a) text] prohibits retaliation against a worker who has complained of bias in the workplace, but it is unclear whether that protection extends to a third party associated with the worker complaining of the bias. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed [opinion, PDF] the district court's ruling and held that the statute only protects workers personally engaging in the protected activity, in this case complaining of workplace bias. The court has also been asked to decide if a civil remedy can be sought by third party, if the court of appeals ruling is upheld.

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