Category Archives: Discrimination

#MeTooWhatNext: Strengthening Workplace Sexual Harassment Protections and Accountability

Source: Maya Raghu & JoAnna Suriani, December 2017

From the summary:
Employees are protected from workplace sexual harassment – a form of sex discrimination defined as unwelcome attention or behavior that workers experience because of their sex – by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. Almost every state also has some form of workplace antidiscrimination law providing protections. Yet sexual harassment remains a widespread problem, affecting workers in every state, in every kind of workplace setting and industry, and at every level of employment. In Federal Fiscal Year 2016, nearly 30,000 harassment charges were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); nearly one-quarter of those charges alleged sexual harassment, and 83.4 percent of sexual harassment charges were brought by women. But the charge statistics do not even begin to represent the extent of sexual harassment in the workplace, given that a survey found that 70 percent of workers who experience sexual harassment say they have never reported it. Whether suffering harassment from supervisors, coworkers, or third parties, such as customers, most victims of harassment are suffering in silence.

Related:
ISSUE PAGE: #MeTooWhatNext

FACT SHEET: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
FACT SHEET: FAQ About Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
FACT SHEET: The Fair Employment Protection Act: Why Workers Need Strong Protections from Harassment
FACT SHEET: Fair Employment Protection Act (S. 3089, H.R. 5693) Section-by-Section Summary
FACT SHEET: The Fair Employment Protection Act: Restoring Protections from Workplace Harassment

Union Women: #MeToo & #TIMESUP Movement
Source: Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), 2018

Top 10 Things Unions Can Do Right Now to Address Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Source: Ana Avendaño and Linda Seabrook, On Labor blog, November 10, 2017

…. The following are practices that unions could adopt right now to address sexual harassment in America’s workplaces:

1)      Recognize that sexual harassment is a workers’ rights issue. ….
2)      Make sure that the union’s constitution and collectively bargained agreements contain guarantees against sexual harassment and retaliation. ….
3)      Address member-on-member harassment. ….
4)      Create a union culture that connects union values and behavior and welcomes women as equal partners in the struggle for social and economic justice. ….
5)      Focus on prevention. ….
6)      Encourage men—especially male leaders—to step up, speak out, and work to change the culture. ….
7)      Create channels for members, union staff and others to report harassment quickly, before it escalates, without having to resort to formal mechanisms. ….
8)      Train stewards in trauma-informed practices on handling claims of harassment. ….
9)      Protect victims who file charges of harassment against retaliation. ….
10)   Give women a voice in the grievance process, and include them as active participants. ….

LGBT Policy Spotlight: Public Accommodations Nondiscrimination Laws

Source: Movement Advancement Project, 2018

From the abstract:
This report LGBT Policy Spotlight: Public Accommodations Nondiscrimination Laws a provides a comprehensive overview of the patchwork of federal, state, and local protections against discrimination in public spaces. As the Supreme Court prepares to issue a ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, public places have become the next battleground in the fight for full equality for LGBT people. The core issue is whether public accommodations—places of business, public transit, hotels, restaurants, taxi cabs and more—can refuse service to people just because of who they are or whom they love.

Progress toward Pay Equity in State Governments?

Source: Gregory B. Lewis, Jonathan Boyd and Rahul Pathak, Public Administration review, Early View, December 28, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Are state governments fulfilling their responsibilities to be model employers of women and minorities? Using U.S. Census Bureau data on individual employees from 1980 to 2015, this article looks at how much progress state governments have made toward eliminating racial and gender pay differences. It examines whether differences in education, age/experience, citizenship, English ability, hours worked, and occupation explain the pay differences. Patterns and explanations vary substantially by group, but state governments are doing a better job than private firms of closing pay gaps on almost every measure.

Same-level fall injuries in US workplaces by age group, gender, and industry

Source: Kenneth A. Scott, Gwenith G. Fisher, Anna E. Barón, Emile Tompa, Lorann Stallones and Carolyn DiGuiseppi, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 61, Issue 2, February 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background
As the workforce ages, occupational injuries from falls on the same level will increase. Some industries may be more affected than others.

Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional study using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate same-level fall injury incidence rates by age group, gender, and industry for four sectors: 1) healthcare and social assistance; 2) manufacturing; 3) retail; and 4) transportation and warehousing. We calculated rate ratios and rate differences by age group and gender.

Results
Same-level fall injury incidence rates increase with age in all four sectors. However, patterns of rate ratios and rate differences vary by age group, gender, and industry. Younger workers, men, and manufacturing workers generally have lower rates.
Conclusions

Variation in incidence rates suggests there are unrealized opportunities to prevent same-level fall injuries. Interventions should be evaluated for their effectiveness at reducing injuries, avoiding gender- or age-discrimination and improving work ability.

Assessing the Impact of the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008: An Analysis of Litigation Efforts under Title I of the Act

Source: Charles E. Mitchell, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 43, No. 3, Winter 2017
(subscription required)

Congress created the Americans with Disabilities Act to eliminate discrimination against citizens with disabilities. The Act covered employment, housing, accommodation, voting, and more. The U.S. Supreme Court issued decisions that weakened employment provisions in the Act. Congress amended the Act to negate those decisions. The author of this article provides an analysis of court and administrative decisions following the amendments, which reveals that private litigation and administrative rulings by federal agencies show an increase in favorable rulings for victims of employment disability discrimination.

Oops, He (or She) Did It Again! Implementing a Best-in-Class Harassment-Free Workplace Program to Help Your Company Stay Out of the Headlines

Source: Amy L. Bess, Aaron R. Gelb, and Heather M. Sager, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 43, No. 3, Winter 2017
(subscription required)

While much has been written about workplace harassment, this article provides a refresher of the nuts-and-bolts aspects of an effective harassment prevention program—from preventive measures such as policies and procedures and management/employee training programs to key considerations and best practices to keep in mind should you find your company conducting an investigation, including important confidentiality considerations. Consistent adherence to these principles should help employers reduce the number of claims and better defend those that are brought.

Order in the Court: How Firm Status and Reputation Shape the Outcomes of Employment Discrimination Suits

Source: Mary-Hunter McDonnell, Brayden G King, American Sociological Review, First Published December 21, 2017

From the abstract:
This article explores the mechanisms by which corporate prestige produces distorted legal outcomes. Drawing on social psychological theories of status, we suggest that prestige influences audience evaluations by shaping expectations, and that its effect will differ depending on whether a firm’s blameworthiness has been firmly established. We empirically analyze a unique database of more than 500 employment discrimination suits brought between 1998 and 2008. We find that prestige is associated with a decreased likelihood of being found liable (suggesting a halo effect in assessments of blameworthiness), but with more severe punishments among organizations that are found liable (suggesting a halo tax in administrations of punishment). Our analysis allows us to reconcile two ostensibly contradictory bodies of work on how organizational prestige affects audience evaluations by showing that prestige can be both a benefit and a liability, depending on whether an organization’s blameworthiness has been firmly established.

A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America

Source: Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, December 15, 2017

The UN’s Philip Alston is an expert on deprivation – and he wants to know why 41m Americans are living in poverty. The Guardian joined him on a special two-week mission into the dark heart of the world’s richest nation…..

Related:
Statement on Visit to the USA
Source: Philip Alston – United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, December 15, 2017

…..My visit coincides with a dramatic change of direction in US policies relating to inequality and extreme poverty. The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world, and will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest 1% and the poorest 50% of Americans.  The dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by the President and Speaker Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.  It is against this background that my report is presented.

The United States is one of the world’s richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries; but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty…..

Sexual Harassment and our Undemocratic Workplaces

Source: Andrew Strom, On Labor blog, November 27, 2017

…. In many cases there are no witnesses to the offending conduct, and rank-and-file workers generally have little reason to believe that top management will take their word over the word of a supervisor. A union grievance procedure at least gives workers an opportunity to appeal to a neutral decision maker. But in a non-union setting, it is rare, if not unheard of, for an internal process to end with the equivalent of a truly independent judge or jury.

Providing training about “dos” and “don’ts” is not going to end sexual harassment unless employers also take steps to democratize the workplace. At-will employment, the norm in most workplaces, creates an environment that makes harassment more likely. If workers can be disciplined or fired for any reason, they know that workplace survival depends upon currying favor with their boss. ….

…. If we wanted to stop a dictator from abusing the citizens of his country, we wouldn’t just give him a lecture about human rights. Instead, we would work to build democratic institutions in the country. But the basic elements of democracy that we take for granted in this country – the right to free speech, one person, one vote, the right to due process – are absent in most workplaces. If we as a society are committed to addressing the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s time to change that. ….