Category Archives: Discrimination

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Public Portal

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), November 2017

From the press release:
Today the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) launched an EEOC Public Portal to provide online access to individuals inquiring about discrimination.

“This secure online system makes the EEOC and an individual’s charge information available wherever and whenever it is most convenient for that individual,” said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “It’s a giant leap forward for the EEOC in providing online services.”

The EEOC Public Portal allows individuals to submit online initial inquiries and requests for intake interviews with the agency. Initial inquiries and intake interviews are typically the first steps for individuals seeking to file a charge of discrimination with EEOC. In fiscal year 2017, the EEOC responded to over 550,000 calls to the toll-free number and more than 140,600 inquiries in field offices, reflecting the significant public demand for EEOC’s services. Handling this volume of contacts through an online system is more efficient for the public and the agency as it reduces the time and expense of paper submissions.

The new system enables individuals to digitally sign and file a charge prepared by the EEOC for them. Once an individual files a charge, he or she can use the EEOC Public Portal to provide and update contact information, agree to mediate the charge, upload documents to his or her charge file, receive documents and messages related to the charge from the agency and check on the status of his or her charge. These features are available for newly filed charges and charges that were filed on or after Jan. 1, 2016 that are in investigation or mediation.

Five EEOC offices (Charlotte, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix and Seattle) piloted the new system for six months. Feedback from the public and the EEOC pilot offices led to improvements in the system for this nationwide launch.

The new system does not permit individuals to file charges of discrimination online that have not been prepared by the EEOC or to file complaints of discrimination against federal agencies…..

Taxpayers are subsidizing hush money for sexual harassment and assault

Source: Peter J. Henning, The Conversation, November 5, 2017

Many of the recent stories about sexual abuse claims against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and other powerful actors, journalists and executives mention settlements either they or their employers made to silence women who accused them of misconduct.

These settlements often require alleged victims to sign a nondisclosure agreement – essentially a pledge of secrecy – in exchange for a cash payment. They are designed to keep the reputations of allegedly abusive high-flyers intact, an arrangement that can allow repeated wrongdoing.

As a law professor who focuses on white-collar crime, what I find striking about these contracts is how they can be treated as tax-deductible business expenses. That means American taxpayers are helping foot the bill for keeping despicable behavior in the shadows.

I don’t believe that secret payments to settle sexual abuse claims should be tax-deductible. Here’s why…..

White Lawmakers Are Using Alabama’s Racist State Constitution To Keep Black Wages Down

Source: Bryce Covert, In These Times, November 2017

Alabama wrote its 1901 constitution to “establish white supremacy.” Workers in a majority-black city say it’s Jim Crow all over again. ….

Just two years ago, these Fight for $15 workers and their allies won a minimum wage increase to $10.10 in Birmingham. It was short-lived. State lawmakers intervened before the law took effect, passing a preemption bill that undid the work of the City Council and the will of its constituents. Since Alabama doesn’t even have its own minimum wage, minimum-wage workers still make the federal wage of just $7.25 an hour.

“We want $10.10, we gonna do it again,” the crowd chanted.

The workers are using protests to pressure corporate employers and state legislators to raise their pay. But they’re not counting on it happening voluntarily. On April 28, 2016, workers in Birmingham filed a lawsuit accusing the state of racial animus and violating the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection.

The lawsuit offers a novel approach in a struggle taking place across the country as blue cities battle red states for self-determination. Republicans often extoll the virtue of local governmental control, but not, it seems, when it comes to progressive change…..

How So-Called “Right to Work” Laws Aim to Silence Working People

Source: Amy Traub, Dēmos, 2017

From the introduction:
In America, working people have the freedom to band together with their co-workers to negotiate for a fair return on our work. We have the freedom to act together so can we speak with a more powerful voice. We have the freedom to join and form unions. Yet today, powerful interests want to take away that freedom. Corporate lobbyists have pushed federal and state-level policies deceptively named “Right to Work” laws that strip away the freedom to negotiate for a fair return on our work. These laws are designed to drain workers’ collective resources by requiring unions to provide representation to people who make no contribution to sustain the union. In essence, so-called “right to work” laws aim to silence working Americans, which causes their wages and working conditions to deteriorate, making it more difficult to sustain a family. Economists find that in states that have adopted these laws, the typical full-time worker is paid $1,500 a year less than their counterpart in a state that has not undermined workers’ rights.

This Demos Explainer clarifies what misleadingly named “right to work” laws do, how they silence workers’ collective voice, and what their impact has been in states that adopt them. We also explore the roots of this anti-worker policy in efforts to cut wages and solidify racial divisions among workers in the Jim Crow South. Today, as “right to work” laws are promoted in a growing number of states and in the U.S. Congress, Demos aims to ensure that elected leaders, the media, and ordinary Americans understand the true nature of this policy.

The Supreme Court’s Quiet Assault on Civil Rights

Source: Lynn Adelman, Dissent, Fall 2017
(subscription required)

It is a little-known and disturbing fact that the Supreme Court is in the process of gutting what may be the most important civil rights statute Congress has ever passed. It is particularly distressing that the harm is being done by a largely unanimous court—and that, other than a few legal scholars, no one seems to be paying any attention.

The statute in question is Section 1983 of the United States Code, which was enacted in 1871 as part of Reconstruction. Section 1983 enables people to bring suits in federal court to enforce the rights created by the Fourteenth Amendment—which, among other things, prohibits state officials from depriving persons of due process and equal protection of the law. The law was designed to provide a federal remedy against officials who violated the rights of the newly freed slaves or who stood by while others, like the Ku Klux Klan, did so. Specifically, it authorizes individuals to sue in federal court “any person who under color of law” violates their constitutional rights. The purposes of the law are to compensate persons whose constitutional rights have been violated and to deter future violations. Actions brought under Section 1983 are known as constitutional tort suits.

After Congress enacted Section 1983, the law lay largely dormant for some ninety years. In 1961, however, in Monroe v. Pape, the Warren Court breathed life into the statute. The plaintiff in Monroe alleged that thirteen Chicago police officers broke into his home in the early morning without a warrant, made his family stand naked, and interrogated him under physical threat. The Supreme Court upheld the plaintiff’s claim for damages under Section 1983 and interpreted the “under color of law” requirement to include actions by government officials taken under the badge of their authority even if the actions exceeded what they were permitted to do under state law. A police officer who used excessive force—as in the Monroe case—would be a prime example.

As the result of Monroe, Section 1983 became the primary vehicle for enforcing constitutional rights in the United States, and that remains true to this day. As Professor Lynda Dodd of the City University of New York (CUNY) has shown, although the statute has never received as much attention as some of the 1960s-era statutes such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 1983 has served as a central pillar of civil rights work for more than half a century. It is the means by which plaintiffs challenge the use of excessive force by police officers, race-based patterns of stop and frisk, unconstitutional conditions of confinement, wrongful convictions, and other kinds of official misconduct…..

The Haves & Have Nots of Paid Family Leave

Source: PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States, May 2017

In the United States today, paid family leave is an elite benefit: 94% of low-income working people have no access to paid family leave. Millions of Americans don’t get even a single day of paid time for caregiving. 1 in 4 new moms in the U.S. is back at work just ten days after childbirth. While public discourse often focuses on income inequality, there is another critical way families experience inequality: the inability to be with their babies and families for the most important moments of their lives.

Over the last year, a slate of the largest employers in the United States have announced paid family leave policies: Starbucks, Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut), and others. While the media has largely heralded these announcements as a boon for working families, most of these benefits are only accessible for people who work in white-collar corporate jobs, leaving out the hourly employees who comprise the vast majority of a company’s workforce. In fact, overall access to paid family leave in the United States has actually declined over the last decade. We’ve conducted independent research to uncover the paid family leave policies at the largest employers in the country to understand who has access to family leave, who doesn’t, and what that says about the need for change in both corporate and public policy.

Many of the companies that employ the most people have policies that provide significantly more paid family leave to corporate employees, while offering little — or nothing at all — to hourly/field/part-time workers…..

Related:
Left Out: How Corporate America’s parental leave policies discriminate against dads, LGBTQ+ and adoptive parents
Source: PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States, June 2017

In America, Parental Leave Is Still A Class Issue
Source: Lea Rose Emery, Brides, September 12, 2017

….Unfortunately, Starbucks is correct when they argue that they provide better benefits than some. Walmart, Kroger, Nike, and Marriott are just some of the corporations offering no paid leave at all. Yum! Brands, owner of chains such as KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, employs hundreds of thousands of US workers, and none of the staff working the restaurants get any paid leave. Yet birth mothers working in the headquarters get 16 weeks. At Amazon, it’s 20 weeks for full-time birth mothers and nothing for those in the warehouse. While all parents deserve adequate paid leave (a guarantee in so many other countries), there is something especially perverse about a company recognizing the need for its corporate employees while denying it to its lower paid staff—people who are much more likely to have trouble affording child care to being with.

The worst part? It doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to treat your retail and corporate employees equally, to give part-time workers the same benefits of those working full-time while still flourishing. Wells Fargo and Nordstrom give all new mothers at least 12 weeks of paid leave, though they do give less to fathers and adoptive parents. Bank of America and Ikea give all new parents 16 weeks. These are huge companies with huge profits. If they can do it, why can’t others?….

Meta-analysis of field experiments shows no change in racial discrimination in hiring over time

Source: Lincoln Quillian, Devah Pager, Ole Hexel, and Arnfinn H. Midtbøen, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Early Edition, August 8, 2017

From the abstract:
This study investigates change over time in the level of hiring discrimination in US labor markets. We perform a meta-analysis of every available field experiment of hiring discrimination against African Americans or Latinos (n = 28). Together, these studies represent 55,842 applications submitted for 26,326 positions. We focus on trends since 1989 (n = 24 studies), when field experiments became more common and improved methodologically. Since 1989, whites receive on average 36% more callbacks than African Americans, and 24% more callbacks than Latinos. We observe no change in the level of hiring discrimination against African Americans over the past 25 years, although we find modest evidence of a decline in discrimination against Latinos. Accounting for applicant education, applicant gender, study method, occupational groups, and local labor market conditions does little to alter this result. Contrary to claims of declining discrimination in American society, our estimates suggest that levels of discrimination remain largely unchanged, at least at the point of hire.

Significance:
Many scholars have argued that discrimination in American society has decreased over time, while others point to persisting race and ethnic gaps and subtle forms of prejudice. The question has remained unsettled due to the indirect methods often used to assess levels of discrimination. We assess trends in hiring discrimination against African Americans and Latinos over time by analyzing callback rates from all available field experiments of hiring, capitalizing on the direct measure of discrimination and strong causal validity of these studies. We find no change in the levels of discrimination against African Americans since 1989, although we do find some indication of declining discrimination against Latinos. The results document a striking persistence of racial discrimination in US labor markets.

Related:
Bias against hiring African Americans hasn’t budged
Source: Hilary Hurd Anyaso, Futurity, September 13th, 2017

Public Opinion on Civil Rights: Reflections on the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Source: Cornell University – Roper Center, 2017

Likely the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ushered in a new era in American civil rights as discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin was outlawed. By signing the law into effect on July 2, 1964, President Johnson also paved the way for additional school desegregation and the prohibition of discrimination in public places and within federal agencies.  Public opinion polls held in the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research archives reveal changing attitudes about race in the U.S., exposing how divisive racial issues were at the time, how much improvement there has been since the Act – and how very far the country still has to go…..
Related:
iPOLL questions from the civil rights era on race relations
iPOLL questions on race relations today
Datasets on race relations

Black Lives Matter and America’s long history of resisting civil rights protesters
Source: Elahe Izadi, Washington Post, The Fix, April 19, 2016

Young Women Are Losing Ground in U.S. Race for Equal Pay

Source: Jeanna Smialek, Bloomberg, August 22, 2017

Women between 25 and 34 years old are slipping when it comes to pay equality with men, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show. In that age group, of mostly millennials, women made just under 89 cents on a man’s dollar in 2016, down from a high of 92 cents in 2011. That means the gender gap in median weekly earnings is the widest in seven years.

Young women’s experience stands in contrast to that of their older counterparts, who are starting from a lower level but continue to creep toward equality. The dip is surprising, given that millennial women are increasingly highly-educated relative to their male peers. Part of the explanation could be that in recent years, a big chunk of gender-wage parity had come because men’s wages weren’t doing well…..