U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Mohawk case

Chris Rizo Jan. 26, 2009, 10:00am

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider an appeal by Mohawk Industries Inc., which wants kept secret its communications with a lawyer who investigated an employee complaint the company was hiring undocumented workers.

The employee who made the complaint -- a shift supervisor at its Union Grove, Ga., manufacturing facility, Norman Carpenter -- says he was fired after making the allegations, court papers say.

He sued the floor covering manufacturer, saying Mohawk threatened and fired him for testifying in a separate class action lawsuit that alleged Mohawk conspired to hire undocumented workers in an effort to cut costs and depress the wages of Mohawk's legal employees.

At trial, Carpenter tried to obtain information from the Mohawk lawyer's investigation of his complaint. But the Calhoun-Ga.-based company said it had a right to keep the internal probe under wraps because the information was protected by the attorney-client privilege.

U.S. District Court Judge Harold Murphy disagreed, saying the company had waived its confidentiality right in an earlier proceeding. Mohawk sought to appeal the ruling, but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the company could not do so.

The company appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, 08-678.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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