Category Archives: Discrimination

The View at the Top or Signing at the Bottom? Workplace Diversity Responsibility and Women’s Representation in Management

Source: Mary E. Graham, Maura A. Belliveau, and Julie L. Hotchkiss, ILR Review, OnlineFirst, Published online before print September 8, 2016
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From the abstract:
Women lag men in their representation in management jobs, which negatively affects women’s careers and company performance. Using data from 81 publicly traded firms with more than 2,000 establishments, the authors examine the impact of two management structures that may influence gender diversity in management positions. The authors find no association between the presence of an HR executive on the top management team—a structure envisioned in practice as enhancing diversity but which could, instead, operate merely symbolically—and the proportion of women in management. By contrast, the authors show a strong, positive association between a previously unexamined measure of commitment to diversity—the hierarchical rank of the individual certifying the company’s required, confidential federal EEO-1 report—and women’s representation in management. These findings counter the common perception that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations are too weak to affect gender diversity. The authors discuss the implications for diversity scholarship, as well as for management practice and public policy.

Let Justice Roll Down: A Case Study of the Infrastructure for Water Equality and Affordability

Source: Martha F. Davis, Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy, Vol. 23 no. 3, 2016

From the abstract:     
In the absence of a fundamental right to a basic level of drinking water and sanitation in the United States, this article examines the ways in which federal and local civil rights laws provide an alternative legal infrastructure to ensure baseline water and sanitation equality. The article focuses on a particular jurisdiction, Washington, D.C. However, the framework analyzed has direct relevance to other subnational settings, since many anti-discrimination laws are federal and all share common themes across jurisdictions. Part I sets out background information on the delivery and affordability of residential water in Washington, D.C., describing a set of laws, regulations, and challenges that are similar to other localities around the country. Part II sets out the relevant civil rights laws – including federal constitutional law, federal statutory, and local legal theories – and how they might apply to a hypothetical instance of water inequality in Washington, D.C. arising from water unaffordability. Special attention is paid to the issue of discriminatory intent, a prerequisite to many civil rights claims. Part III summarizes the potential strengths and shortcomings of current antidiscrimination law as it applies to water and sanitation inequality, and identifies promising avenues for legal action. This section also describes several domestic initiatives to create a broader set of rights to augment and strengthen the existing legal infrastructure protecting water and sanitation access

Going Back in Time? Gender Differences in Trends and Sources of the Racial Pay Gap, 1970 to 2010

Source: Hadas Mandela, Moshe Semyonov, American Sociological Review, OnlineFirst, Published online before print September 2, 2016
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From the abstract:
Using IPUMS data for five decennial years between 1970 and 2010, we delineate and compare the trends and sources of the racial pay gap among men and women in the U.S. labor force. Decomposition of the pay gap into components underscores the significance of the intersection between gender and race; we find meaningful gender differences in the composition of the gap and in the gross and the net earnings gaps—both are much larger among men than among women. Despite these differences, the over-time trend is strikingly similar for both genders. Racial gaps sharply declined between 1970 and 1980 and continued to decline, but at a slower rate, until 2000. However, at the turn of the millennium, the trend reversed for both gender groups. The growth of the racial pay gap at the turn of the millennium is attributable to the increase in overall income inequality, stagnation in occupational segregation, and an increase in the unexplained portion of the gap, a portion we attribute to economic discrimination.

Equal Pay for African American Women

Source: National Women’s Law Center, Fact Sheet, August 2016

From the introduction:
When we compare all women to all men, we find that women who work full time, year round in the United States are paid only 79 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. But the wage gap is even larger when we look specifically at African American women who work full time, year round—they are paid only 60 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. This gap, which amounts to a loss of $21,937 a year, means that African American women have to work nearly 20 months—until almost the end of August—to make as much as white, non-Hispanic men did in the previous 12-month calendar year.

Underpaid and Unequal: Racial Wage Disparities in the Early Childhood Workforce

Source: Rebecca Ullrich, Katie Hamm, Rachel Herzfeldt-Kamprath, Center for American Progress, August 2016

From the summary:
More than 3 million children younger than age 6 regularly attend center-based care and education. Formal care arrangements—such as child care centers and preschools—are an increasingly prominent part of children’s lives: 65 percent of young children have all available parents in the workforce. Policymakers, recognizing the importance of these early care and education environments—not just as a work support for parents but also as a means to promote children’s learning and development—are looking for strategies to boost program quality.

Experts know that effective teachers are central to quality early care and education. It is no surprise, then, that many quality improvement efforts have focused on increasing education requirements for teachers and bolstering access to professional development and training. Children’s learning and development is supported by thoughtful instruction and warm, engaging interactions. It takes a skilled and effective workforce to provide the level of instruction necessary to promote positive outcomes—including social skills and early literacy and numeracy skills—but the United States continues to pay most early childhood educators embarrassingly low wages. Preschool teachers and child care workers rank in the bottom 20th percentile for mean annual salaries. Moreover, many teachers lack access to important benefits such as health insurance and paid leave.

New analyses presented in this report suggest that poor compensation and benefits are felt most acutely by African American women in the early childhood workforce. On average, African American female teachers working full time make 84 cents for every $1 earned by their white counterparts. White teachers working full-time make an average of $13.86 per hour: This 16 percent wage gap means an African American teacher would make $366 less per month and $4,395 less per year, on average. When differences in educational backgrounds, years of experience, and employment characteristics are taken into account, the wage gap between African American and white female, full-time teachers is reduced to roughly 93 cents on the dollar. However, this is still a meaningful difference in a workforce that makes less than $30,000 per year, on average…..

Blue Cities, Red States

Source: Abby Rapoport, American Prospect, August 22, 2016

As cities have moved left and states have moved right, the conflicts between them have escalated. ….

…..“PREEMPTION” LAWS ARE not new, nor are they necessarily about undoing local legislation. But with some notable exceptions, past preemption laws have generally enforced what can be called “minimum preemption”: They force localities to do something where they might otherwise have done little or nothing. As it’s often said, they set a “floor” for regulation. For instance, the federal government has been setting minimum standards of environmental protection for years, preempting the states from allowing lower environmental standards. Similarly, states often set a floor for various local regulations, whether regarding pollution, trade licensing, gun ownership, or other matters.

Most current preemption laws, by contrast, are what one might call “maximum preemption.” These laws aren’t about setting minimums; instead, they prohibit local regulation. States have prevented localities from creating paid sick leave requirements for businesses, or raising the minimum wage. Many who oppose these measures blame their proliferation on the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, which has drafted “model” preemption bills for state lawmakers to use. “Pretty much anything you can think of that matters to the American family is under assault by local preemption,” says Mark Pertschuk, the director of Grassroots Change, which fights preemption laws around the country……

Why silence continues to surround pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

Source: Michelle D. Deardorff, The Conversation, August 23, 2016

….Part of the reason for this, I believe, is that scholars have largely failed to study the issue. When researchers do address pregnancy and employment, they tend to focus on the exceptions or women in professional and managerial employment, not the lives of working-class women.

Pregnancy and the American Worker,” a new book I coauthored with James Dahl, aims to remedy this lack of scholarship by examining how U.S. courts have interpreted pregnancy discrimination under the two acts meant to prevent it. Our research suggests that one reason the issue has received so little attention is that pregnancy discrimination disproportionately affects hourly workers – typically poor or working class – a group often without a voice and frequently ignored by political elites…..

Data-Driven Discrimination at Work

Source: Pauline T. Kim, Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-06-03, June 27, 2016

From the abstract:
A data revolution is transforming the workplace. Employers are increasingly relying on algorithms to decide who gets interviewed, hired or promoted. Proponents of the new data science claim that automated decision systems can make better decisions faster, and are also fairer, because they replace biased human decision-makers with “neutral” data. However, data are not neutral and algorithms can discriminate. The legal world has not yet grappled with these challenges to workplace equality. The risks posed by data analytics call for fundamentally rethinking anti-discrimination doctrine. When decision-making algorithms produce biased outcomes, they may seem to resemble familiar disparate impact cases, but that doctrine turns out to be a poor fit. Developed in a different context, disparate impact doctrine fails to address the ways in which algorithms can introduce bias and cause harm. This Article argues instead for a plausible, revisionist interpretation of Title VII, in which disparate treatment and disparate impact are not the only recognized forms of discrimination. A close reading of the text suggests that Title VII also prohibits classification bias — namely, the use of classification schemes that have the effect of exacerbating inequality or disadvantage along the lines of race or other protected category. This description matches well the concerns raised by workplace analytics. Framing the problem in terms of classification bias leads to some quite different conclusions about how the anti-discrimination norm should be applied to algorithms, suggesting both the possibilities and limits of Title VII’s liability focused model.

Blue-on-Black Violence: A Provisional Model of Some of the Causes

Source: Devon W. Carbado, University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) – School of Law, UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-31, July 11, 2016

From the abstract:
This Article offers a theoretical model that explains the persistence of what I will call “blue-on-black violence.” Six features comprise the model: (1) A variety of social forces converge to make African-Americans vulnerable to ongoing police surveillance and contact. (2) The frequency of this surveillance and contact exposes African-Americans to the possibility of police violence. (3) Police culture and training encourage that violence (mostly implicitly). (4) When violence occurs, a range of legal actors in the civil and criminal process translate that violence into justifiable force. (5) The doctrine of qualified immunity makes it difficult for plaintiffs to win cases against police officers, and when plaintiffs win such cases, police officers rarely suffer financial consequences because their local government indemnifies them. (6) The conversion of violence into justifiable force, the qualified immunity barrier to suing police officers, and the frequency with which cities and municipalities indemnify police officers reduce the risk of legal sanction police officers assume when they employ excessive force. This reduction in the risk of legal liability diminishes the incentive for police officers to exercise care with respect to when and how they deploy violent force. Although the foregoing factors are not exhaustive of the causes of police violence against African-Americans, they suggest that the problem is structural and transcends the conduct of particular officers engaging in particular acts of violence against particular African-Americans.

How racism has shaped welfare policy in America since 1935

Source: Alma Carten, The Conversation, August 21, 2016

A recent UNICEF report found that the U.S. ranked 34th on the list of 35 developed countries surveyed on the well-being of children. According to the Pew Institute, children under the age of 18 are the most impoverished age population of Americans, and African-American children are almost four times as likely as white children to be in poverty.

These findings are alarming, not least because they come on the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s promise to “end welfare as we know it” with his signing into law, on Aug. 23, 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (P.L. 104-193).

It is true that the data show the number of families receiving cash assistance fell from 12.3 million in 1996 to current levels of 4.1 million as reported by The New York Times. But it is also true that child poverty rates for black children remain stubbornly high in the U.S.

My research indicates that this didn’t happen by chance. In a recent book, I examine social welfare policy developments in the U.S. over a 50-year period from the New Deal to the 1996 reforms. Findings reveal that U.S. welfare policies have, from their very inception, been discriminatory….
Related:
Measuring child poverty: New league tables of child poverty in the world’s rich countries
Source: Peter Adamson, UNICEF, Innocenti Research Centre, Report Card 10, 2016

20 Years After Welfare Reform, The Fight to Destigmatize Poor Black Mothers Continues
Source: Premilla Nadasen, In These Times, August 22, 2016

An interview with Maureen Taylor, a longtime economic justice advocate and chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.