On June 23, 2016, in its second time hearing Fisher v. University of Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the affirmative action admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin. The Court held that the program is lawful under the Equal Protection Clause because it is narrowly tailored to achieving concrete, compelling goals tied to the educational benefits flowing from student body diversity. The Court signaled that its holding was necessarily limited to the unique circumstances at UT, where only 25% of the first-year class is admitted under a framework considering race as one among many factors. Despite this limitation, under Fisher, higher education institutions may continue to use holistic, race-conscious admissions practices, so long as such practices are grounded in a reasoned determination that the educational value achieved from considering race as a factor cannot be achieved through other means. Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas

Our colleague Tyrone Thomas was quoted in The New York Times article entitled, In 11 Missing Words, Some See Shift in NCAA Case Against UNC, in which he addresses the potential impact of the NCAA allegations against the University of North Carolina (UNC) for its alleged lack of institutional control pertaining to the supervision of the academic program for student athletes. The article describes the overall implications of the NCAA’s amended notice of allegations to UNC for its role in a scheme of paper classes that disproportionately favored athletes.

The NCAA scored a victory last week with the denial of class certification in an antitrust suit challenging the association’s former ban on multiyear scholarships (the “One Year Rule”) and its cap on scholarships (the “GIA Cap”). Plaintiff had alleged that those rules constituted a concerted effort by the NCAA and its member schools to thwart competition. This decision from the United States Southern District of Indiana in John Rock v. NCAA, Case No. 1:12-cv-01019, may, as a practical matter, end this particular case. Perhaps anticipating this outcome, Rock’s counsel has already brought other players onto the playing field in similar suits filed against the NCAA, including Deppe v. NCAA, Case No. 1:16-cv-00528 (S.D. Ind.), filed in early March. With respect to the Core Issue class Rock sought, the district court found a lack of ascertainability to reject the class. With respect to the injunction, the court found that all the class certification elements had been met, but that Rock himself was not a class representative plaintiff, since he had signed a professional contract before even initiating litigation. Continue Reading Court Denies Class Cert. in NCAA Antitrust Suit

As an update to our recent post, the Massachusetts Senate took action on several important pieces of legislation that relate to higher education institutions and their students.  Below is a brief summary of the activity that occurred during the passage of these bills. Continue Reading Massachusetts Senate Passes 3 Higher Education Bills

This is the second installment of a series regarding legal issues affecting college athletics that Employment Matters will run during this year’s NCAA basketball tournament.

It is no secret that the salaries of coaches of high profile college programs are rising steadily. In a recent report listing the highest paid public employee for each of the fifty states, 40 were college coaches. While Alabama football coach Nick Saban led that list with annual compensation of around $7 million, the Chronicle of Higher Education also reported the Crimson Tide were just 1 of 10 athletic programs in 2014 to give more money back to its campus than it received in subsidies. As a famous comic book hero once said – “with great power, comes great responsibility.” It is therefore important to examine the legal concerns affecting coaching pay, which based on recent events, will increasingly include responsibility for conduct detrimental to athletic programs. Continue Reading More Money, More Problems? – The Rise of Compensation and Expectations for College Coaches (Employment Matters)

This is the first installment of a series regarding legal issues affecting college athletics that Employment Matters will run during this year’s NCAA basketball tournament.

Two horrible March Madness brackets ago, we analyzed the myriad of legal and operational challenges that could change the face of intercollegiate athletics. The smoke has begun to clear on one critical issue – student-athletes have not been granted standing to assert rights as employees. Interestingly, the recent decisions involving the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) on this issue have come at a time of expanding rights for student-athletes. Continue Reading A Look Beyond the Madness – Revisiting The Standing Of And Protections For Student-Athletes (Employment Matters)

Recently, our colleagues Alden Bianchi and Edward Lenz contributed an article to Employment Matters entitled, “Staffing Firms, Educational Organizations, and Breaks-in-Service under the Affordable Care Act Employer Shared Responsibility Rules: Proposed Changes under Notice 2015-87” that highlights a number of pressing issues that have arisen under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) concerning staffing firms that place contract and temporary workers with educational organizations.  These issues include employer shared responsibility rules, information reporting requirements, and insurance market reforms, among others.  For an in-depth explanation of the ACA’s proposed changes and their impact, click here.

Next week, the Massachusetts Senate is likely to address legislation that will have an impact on higher education institutions in Massachusetts, their students and financial institutions extending loans to such students.  These bills are among the first substantial pieces of legislation in the area of education to be taken up during the 2015-2016 legislative session.

Senate bill 175, An Act Relative to Unsolicited Loans, prohibits financial institutions from issuing an “unsolicited loan instrument”, such as a negotiable check, money order or draft.  This bill also provides protections in the event that such an instrument is used by an unauthorized third party.  The full text of the bill can be found here.

Senate bill 2183, An Act Expanding the Community College Workforce Training Incentive Program, amends an existing grant program that targets vocationally-oriented instruction at community colleges.  Under the current program, only not-for-credit training programs at community colleges are eligible to receive the grants.  Should Senate bill 2183 be signed into law, all vocationally-oriented instruction (for-credit and not-for-credit instruction) will be eligible for the grants.  The full text of the bill can be found here.

Senate bill 2184, An Act Relative to Uniform Financial Aid Information, mandates that each higher education institutions provide a “uniform financial aid information shopping sheet” to accepted applicants of the institution.   A shopping sheet is a document that provides prospective students with simplified information related to financial aid.  The full text of the bill can be found here.

All of these bills are subject to an amendment deadline in the Senate of 5pm on Monday, March 21.  While the scheduling of these bill is an indication that there is significant support for their passage in the Senate, the ultimate fate of these bill has yet to be determined.  The House of Representatives has not taken action on these bills and the deadline for considering major legislative proposals is July 31, 2016.  Even if these bills pass both the House and the Senate, the governor’s office will have an opportunity to express support or opposition if any bill reaches the governor’s desk this year.

ML Strategies, Mintz Levin’s consulting affiliate, is currently tracking the progress of these bills; for more information, please contact us.

In a recent article by our colleague Patricia Moran of Mintz Levin’s Employment Labor and Benefits practice, new light is shed regarding the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) effects on health insurance stipends provided to students at educational institutions.  Patricia’s article, “Subsidizing Student Health Insurance With Stipends – New Agency Guidance and Relief” analyzes new guidance issued by the Departments of Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services addressing the application of market reforms and other provisions of the ACA to student health coverage and advises what educational institutions ought to be doing to meet ACA requirements.

To find out more about these requirements, click here to access Patricia’s article in full.

Recently, our colleague Patricia Moran contributed an article to Employment Matters, Mintz Levin’s Employment, Labor & Benefits blog, regarding “The Health and Welfare ‘Wrap’ Document: What It Is and Why You Want One”.  In pointing out that the Affordable Care Act has altered the health and welfare regulatory landscape, Patricia recommends that employers use a “wrap” document to satisfy the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Summary Plan Description (SPD) and other disclosure requirements.  While delving into the document’s specifics, the article brings out several of the following points that are relevant to educational institutions: Continue Reading The Health and Welfare “Wrap” Document: What It Is and Why You Want One (Employment Matters)