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Monday PM January 24th, 2011

Supreme Court rulings on gender discrimination, credit card interest rates…Railroad job growth…Halliburton’s fourth-quarter earnings…J.C. Penny closing catalog business…


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The Supreme Court says a company can be sued for retaliating against an employee by firing her fiancé. The court ruled for Eric Thompson and against North American Stainless. Thompson’s fiancée and now-wife, Miriam Regalado, had alleged her supervisors discriminated against her because of her gender. The company fired Thompson on March 7. Thompson said he had been fired because of his fiancée’s complaint. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for a unanimous court that “hurting him was the unlawful act by which the employer punished her.”

The high court also ruled in favor of Chase Bank in a dispute over credit card interest rates. James A. McCoy complained Chase increased his interest rate retroactively, arguing credit card regulations make that illegal. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the Federal Reserve Board’s interpretation of the rules said Chase did not have to inform him of the increase. Congress changed the law in 2009 to require credit card companies to give a 45-day notice before raising rates.

America’s railroads are well positioned for job growth due to a coming wave of retirements. According to the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, 67,000 rail employees will be eligible to retire over the next five years, representing roughly 30% of the industry’s workforce. In addition, railroads have begun to hire in response to the gradual return in rail traffic, bringing back workers or recruiting new employees.

Halliburton says its fourth-quarter income more than doubled as the oil services company benefited from an increase in drilling activity around the globe. The company reported net income of $605 million for the three-month period that ended December 31. That compares with $243 million a year ago.

J.C. Penney is getting rid of its catalog and outlet businesses and closing six stores and two call centers in an effort to streamline operations and boost profits. The Plano-based department store operator is also reorganizing its custom decorating business.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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