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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
Supreme Court rules for employee in Google lawsuit

The company that gave us the world's most successful search engine, Google, might just be about to learn the hard way that being 'too old' is not a good enough reason to fire someone, and that fancy expressions like 'cultural fitness' might not be of much use in this regard.

The Supreme Court of California found that the trial court made an error in dismissing Brian Reid's complaint, wherein he had stated that his services had been terminated by Google in less than two years of his employment after having been hired in 2002. The reason for the termination of services was his age. After he attained the age of 54 he was told that he was not "cultural fit".

The Supreme Court held that in rejecting the case the trial court failed to take into consideration the remarks passed by Reid's colleagues, such as 'old man' and 'old fuddy-duddy', which could be seen as evidence of bias.

Andrew Pederson, a spokesman for Google, based in Mountain View, California, said that Reid was not asked to go for the reason of his age. "We look forward to demonstrating in court the legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons why Mr Reid was let go," he is reported to have said in an e-mailed statement.

Reid has been reported to have remarked, "They do everything they can to get you to spend all of your waking hours there. I don't dye my hair orange and ride a unicycle to work. But I'm very good at what I do. I don't consider that I was incompatible with that job."

Reid, a former associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, alleged that during his stint with Google his ideas were put down by the 38-year-old Vice President, who called them "obsolete" and "too old to matter" and remarked every now and then that he was "slow", "lethargic", "fuzzy" and "sluggish".

As a consequence of the ruling the case would now return to the trial court.

Supreme Courts rule for same-sex marriages in Mexico and California

A federal judge in California trashed Proposition 8, thereby undoing the ban on same-sex marriages imposed democratically through popular vote. The landmark case is very likely to end up in the US Supreme Court considering the relevance of the issue and the religious passions it tends to incite.

"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples," Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker wrote.

However, Judge Walker has not made his decision operational pending responses from lawyers on both sides.

The reactions to the judgment have been mixed. "This ruling is a historic milestone for millions of loving families, for all who have fought to realize the dream of equality under the law, and for our nation as a whole," Rick Jacobs, founder and chairman of a gay-rights group, is reported to have said, whereas Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, which stands in clear opposition of same-sex marriages, reportedly said, "With a stroke of his pen, Judge Walker has overruled the votes and values of 7 million Californians who voted for marriage as one man and one woman. This ruling, if allowed to stand, threatens not only Prop 8 in California but the laws in 45 other States that define marriage as one man and one woman." Brown was referring to Proposition 8, which was passed with 52% of the vote.

Reacting to the judgment and its criticism as an act of 'judicial activism', Former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, reportedly said, "It's not judicial activism when judges do what the Constitution requires them to do and they follow the precedent of previous decisions of the Supreme Court. This is what judges are expected to do."

In a similar development, the Mexican Supreme Court, in an
8-2 ruling, held same-sex marriages valid in Mexico City and rejected the argument that such marriages impinged upon the guaranteed protection to the family. However, the judges have not yet decided the issue as to whether the ruling would extend beyond the capital. The Court is also to settle the issue of adoption of children by same-sex couples.

Child abuse cases against Vatican suffer setback

With the Supreme Court refusing to review the legal position pertaining to the status of the Vatican as a sovereign State immune to prosecution, it has become extremely difficult for the plaintiffs to hold the Vatican legally responsible in child sexual abuse cases against the priests.

A US lawyer, Bill McMurry, who managed to sue the US Roman Catholic church successfully in the sex abuse scandal involving the priests is disheartened with the apex court's declining to open the issue of the sovereignty of the Vatican. According to Bill McMurry the abuse cases against the Vatican are suffering badly on account of "the burdens the courts have placed on plaintiffs".

"I was disappointed that our Supreme Court didn't correct this injustice, and I'm frustrated that I can't hold the Vatican accountable for what the Vatican did, but only for what the bishops did. Immunity allows international religious organizations masquerading as foreign countries to commit any horrendous act as long as they do it from a distance," McMurry reportedly said adding, "You have to have an impossible alignment of planets and moons to win any case against the Vatican."

In 2002, the sex abuse by the clergy came to light and hit the United States hard when the archbishop of Boston conceded that he had indeed shielded a priest who had molested children. The next year the archdiocese of Louisville agreed to cough up $26 million in damages to 243 plaintiffs, who had alleged that the employees of the church including the priests had sexually abused them while the archdiocese kept covering it up.



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