Closing the Portal

Just ten months ago, a shrewd labor lawyer named Edward Lamb won a U.S. Supreme Court decision involving Michigan's Mt. Clemens Pottery Co.—and thereby opened the door to over $5 billion in portal-to-portal back-pay suits. Then the case was sent back to Detroit's federal court, where it had started, to determine how much was due the pottery workers. This time Lamb did not fare so well.

The Department of Justice, scared by the political furor over portal pay, asked that the claims be thrown out, on the grounds that they were trifling. (The Supreme Court had advised that all "trifling" amounts...

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