The case involves workers over age 40 who challenged their
dismissals from the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in upstate New York.
Thirty of the 31 workers laid off by the lab in 1996 were
over 40. Twenty-six of those employees sued Knolls claiming that the layoffs
violated the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
In a separate decision that favors companies, the court also
ruled that states cannot prohibit employers from using state money to influence
union-organizing drives. The court ruled 7-2 on California's first-in-the-nation law that
bars employers from using state money to influence employees' views on unions
in their workplace, the Associated Press reported.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, backed by the Bush
administration, said the state was trying to silence employers from weighing in
on organizing efforts. Federal labor law allows employers to be involved as
long as they don't threaten reprisals.
And in another decision, the court ruled that criminal
defendants with a history of mental illness do not always have the right to
represent themselves, even though they have been judged competent to stand
The justices, by a 7-2 vote, say states can give trial
judges discretion to prevent someone from acting as his own lawyer if they are
concerned that the trial could turn into a farce.
The decision comes in the case of an Indiana
man who was convicted of attempted murder and other charges in 2005 for a
shooting six years earlier at an Indianapolis