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Scamming The Elderly

Precedence or preference in position over others similarly situated. As used, for example, with reference to job seniority, the worker with the most years of service is first promoted within a range of jobs subject to seniority, and is the last laid off, proceeding so on down the line to the youngest in point of service. The term may also refer to the priority of a lien or encumbrance.

A person who holds a lien or has an encumbrance against the property of another, so that her claim must be satisfied before any others, has seniority or priority.

An employee has seniority if he is among those with the most years of service at the place of employment. Such seniority entitles the employee to compete for promotion to jobs for which junior (less senior) employees would be ineligible or would receive less consideration. Traditionally, it also gives him the status of being among the last to lose his job in case of lay-offs.

In the 1984 case of Firefighters Local Union No. 1784 v. Stotts, 467 U.S. 561, 104 S. Ct. 2576, 81 L. Ed. 2d 483, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of a seniority system that protected the jobs of white firefighters with seniority at the expense of recently hired black firefighters. The fire department in Memphis, Tennessee, implemented the traditional seniority principle of "last hired, first fired." In 1981 three white fire-fighters who otherwise would have kept their jobs under the system were laid off for a month while minority firefighters with less seniority continued working. This change in the seniority system resulted from an INJUNCTION to enforce consent decrees that resolved equal employment opportunity cases in Memphis. The lower court fashioned the decrees to remedy the past discriminatory practices of the fire department in its hiring and promotion of minorities. The district court concluded that the seniority system was not a bona fide one under section 706(g) of Title VII of the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 since lay-offs made pursuant to it would have a racially discriminatory effect. The court, therefore, directed the modification of the system to increase and maintain the percentage of black firefighters. The court of appeals affirmed the revision of the seniority system but disagreed with the holding that the system was not bona fide.

On certiorari, the Supreme Court decided that the district court exceeded its authority in issuing the injunction that ultimately led to the lay-off of the senior white firefighters. The injunction was not a proper remedy. There was no finding that any of the black employees protected by the revised system had been a direct victim of discrimination, a requirement imposed by the Court in International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 97 S. Ct. 1843, 52 L. Ed. 2d 396 (1977). The Court, however, did not decide whether the CONSENT DECREE was valid or whether the Memphis Fire Department could, on its own, protect the jobs of black firefighters at the expense of their white colleagues who had more seniority.

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