While employers breathlessly await this week’s Supreme Court health care reform ruling, here’s a quick rundown on some other key decisions affecting the workplace – in 100 words or less …

Who Exactly Is a “Supervisor”?

The Court granted certiorari in Vance v. Ball State University, a decision that could have a big impact in the sexual harassment arena.

The Court will decide who exactly is a “supervisor” under Title VII. The Supremes will scrutinize the supervisor liability rule established in the Faragher and Burlington Industries cases and resolve whether it applies to (1) harassment by anyone with the authority to oversee the complainant’s work or merely (2) those with the power to “hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline” the complainant.

Arizona Immigration Law Goes 1 for 4

The Court examined four pieces of Arizona’s tough immigration law, upholding one and tossing out three.

The Court kept the piece requiring police to check the immigration status of those they stop. It rejected portions that made it a criminal offense to seek employment without a work permit and to fail to carry immigration papers, as well as a provision authorizing police to arrest anyone suspected of committing a “deportable offense.”

Reflecting the heated political debate that is likely to continue through the upcoming elections, the justices exchanged some rather pointed and polarized comments. In the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy said: “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.”

In his dissent, Justice Scalia retorted: “If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign state.”