Category Archives: Discrimination

What You Should Know About Religious and National Origin Discrimination Against Those Who Are, or Are Perceived to Be, Muslim or Middle Eastern

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), What You Should Know, 2016

Recent tragic events at home and abroad have increased tensions with certain communities, particularly those who are, or are perceived to be, Muslim or Middle Eastern. EEOC urges employers and employees to be mindful of instances of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in the workplace and to take actions to prevent or correct this behavior. The information provided below highlights what you should know about EEOC’s outreach and enforcement in this area….

Voter Access In 2016: Latest On Restrictions Across The Country

Source: Diane Rhem Show, August 2, 2016

The North Carolina voter ID law targeted African Americans with “almost surgical precision.” That’s according to a three-judge panel that decided Friday to strike down the law. Recent weeks have seen a slew of similar victories for challengers of voting restrictions: Federal courts also dealt blows to Republican-backed laws in Texas, Wisconsin and Kansas. Supporters of these laws say they address voter fraud and other issues at the polls. But is the tide now turning when it comes to voter restrictions? The latest on recent court decisions affecting voters, and what they could mean for the outcome of the presidential election.

Women’s Wage Theft: Explaining Gender Differences in Violations of Wage and Hour Laws

Source: Miruna Petrescu-Prahova and Michael W. Spiller, Work and Occupations, Published online before print July 28, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In this study, the authors identify and analyze a distinct and understudied source of gender inequality: gender differences in violations of wage-related workplace laws. The authors find that women have significantly higher rates of minimum wage and overtime violations than men and also lose more of their earnings to wage theft than men. In the case of minimum wage violations, the authors also find that nativity and immigration status strongly mediate this gender difference. Multivariate analysis suggests that demand-side characteristics—occupation and measures of nonstandard work and informality—account for more of the gender difference in minimum wage violations than do worker characteristics.

Who Pays for White-Collar Crime?

Source: Paul M. Healy, George Serafeim, Harvard Business School, June 29, 2016

From the abstract:     
Using a proprietary dataset of 667 companies around the world that experienced white-collar crime we investigate what drives punishment of perpetrators of crime. We find a significantly lower propensity to punish crime in our sample, where most crimes are not reported to the regulator, relative to samples in studies investigating punishment of perpetrators in cases investigated by U.S. regulatory authorities. Punishment severity is significantly lower for senior executives, for perpetrators of crimes that do not directly steal from the company and at smaller companies. While economic reasons could explain these associations we show that gender and frequency of crimes moderate the relation between punishment severity and seniority. Male senior executives and senior executives in organizations with widespread crime are treated more leniently compared to senior female perpetrators or compared to senior perpetrators in organizations with isolated cases of crime. These results suggest that agency problems could partly explain punishment severity.

Ban the Box, Criminal Records, and Statistical Discrimination: A Field Experiment

Source: Amanda Agan, Sonja Starr, Princeton University, Industrial Relations Section Working Paper #598, July 2016

“Ban-the-Box” (BTB) policies restrict employers from asking about applicants’ criminal histories on job applications and are often presented as a means of reducing unemployment among black men, who disproportionately have criminal records. However, withholding information about criminal records could risk encouraging statistical discrimination: employers may make assumptions about criminality based on the applicant’s race or other observable characteristics. To investigate this possibility as well as the effects of race and criminal records on employer callback rates, we sent approximately 15,000 fictitious online job applications to employers in New Jersey and New York City, before and after each jurisdiction’s adoption of BTB policies. Our causal effect estimates are based on a triple-differences design, which exploits the fact that many businesses’ applications did not ask about records even before BTB and were thus unaffected by the law. Our results confirm that criminal records are a major barrier to employment, but they also support the concern that BTB policies encourage statistical discrimination on the basis of race. Overall, white applicants received 23% more callbacks than similar black applicants and employers that ask about criminal records are 62% more likely to call back an applicant if he has no record. However, we find that the race gap in callbacks grows dramatically at the BTB-affected companies after the policy goes into effect. Before BTB, white applicants to BTB-affected employers received about 7% more callbacks than similar black applicants, but BTB increases this gap to 45%.

Further Inspection Into the Effects of Correctional Officers’ Sex, Race, and Perceptions of Safety on Job-Related Attitudes

Source: John Wooldredge, Benjamin Steiner, The Prison Journal Vol. 96 no. 4, September 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article examines more closely the empirical relationships between correctional officers’ job attitudes and officer demographics and perceptions of safety. Bi-level analyses from 1,740 officers in 45 prisons revealed that officers’ sex and race mattered for shaping an officer’s pride with co-workers, consideration of transferring to another facility, and perceptions of co-workers’ job satisfaction, but only as they were linked to perceptions of sexism and racism. Perceptions of safety also mattered. Yet, levels of inmate crime and victimization were irrelevant for shaping attitudes. Positive attitudes were also more common in facilities housing higher risk populations, and in facilities for men.

Twin Cities Unions Respond to Police Violence

Source: Alexandra Bradbury, Labor Notes, July 21, 2016

….Philando Castile, an African American man who was shot and killed by a police officer at a traffic stop July 6, was a member of Teamsters Local 320. The union issued a brief statement expressing grief over his death. It’s a public employees local, representing a handful of police officers—though not the one who killed him—as well as corrections officers, campus workers, city workers, bus drivers, and even public defenders, who often find themselves opposing police in court. The local hasn’t tried to engage members in protest, or even conversation, about racism or police violence. “Our union has traditionally not encouraged member dialogue on any issues—especially issues as complicated as the relationship between police officer union members and other union members,” said member Bob Kolstad….

….But other Twin Cities unions have been bolder. Hundreds of teachers, in town for their union convention, marched on July 19 to protest Castile’s killing; 21 were arrested. Last fall, members of AFSCME Local 3800 helped organize a rally, “Labor for Justice for Jamar,” after Minneapolis police shot and killed another African American man, Jamar Clark. Local 3800 represents clerical and technical workers at the University of Minnesota. President Cherrene Horazuk said many members there, too, had personal connections to Castile. Since his death the local has been encouraging members to attend protests and vigils—and to wear their union shirts, to show that this is a union issue. Horazuk said few members have opposed their local taking a stand. She believes one reason why is that, in its contract campaign, the union was already raising racial justice issues, such as the low wages of workers of color on campus, and Muslim workers’ fight to get religious holidays off. So, she said, “it doesn’t seem like it’s out of the blue.”…..

“Women’s work” and the gender pay gap: How discrimination, societal norms, and other forces affect women’s occupational choices—and their pay

Source: Jessica Schieder and Elise Gould, Economic Policy Institute, July 20, 2016

From the summary:
What this report finds: Women are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to men—despite the fact that over the last several decades millions more women have joined the workforce and made huge gains in their educational attainment. Too often it is assumed that this pay gap is not evidence of discrimination, but is instead a statistical artifact of failing to adjust for factors that could drive earnings differences between men and women. However, these factors—particularly occupational differences between women and men—are themselves often affected by gender bias. For example, by the time a woman earns her first dollar, her occupational choice is the culmination of years of education, guidance by mentors, expectations set by those who raised her, hiring practices of firms, and widespread norms and expectations about work–family balance held by employers, co-workers, and society. In other words, even though women disproportionately enter lower-paid, female-dominated occupations, this decision is shaped by discrimination, societal norms, and other forces beyond women’s control.

Why it matters, and how to fix it: The gender wage gap is real—and hurts women across the board by suppressing their earnings and making it harder to balance work and family. Serious attempts to understand the gender wage gap should not include shifting the blame to women for not earning more. Rather, these attempts should examine where our economy provides unequal opportunities for women at every point of their education, training, and career choices.
Press release

Ban the Box: Protecting Employer Rights While Improving Opportunities for Ex-offender Job Seekers

Source: C. W. Von Bergen and Martin S. Bressler, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 42 no. 1, Summer 2016
(subscription required)

A number of state and local jurisdictions, and more recently federal officials, have initiated statutes aimed at minimizing the obstacles encountered by ex-offenders in securing employment. Such policies, often referred to as “Ban the Box” legislation, attempt to ameliorate the deleterious effect that criminal history screening often has on such individuals’ ability to secure employment. The “box” in Ban the Box refers to the question on many employment applications asking if the job applicant has a criminal conviction. Such ordinances are focused at the point of the application process, only allowing potential employers to query individuals seeking employment about their convictions when they obtain an offer of conditional employment or when they reach the ranks of final consideration. Even then, it is a typical requirement that potential employers link necessity of a criminal screening with the nature of the job. This article discusses Ban the Box, its history, the risks these laws pose to employers, and strategies for firm compliance.