Category Archives: Discrimination

Rethinking Middle America

Source: Christopher CimaglioLabor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The emergence of “Middle America” as a meaningful political category is most commonly credited to the populist conservative politics of the late 1960s and to Richard Nixon in particular. This article presents an alternative origin story for the idea of Middle America, spotlighting liberal commentators and national journalists working in the same period. As these observers sought to understand and portray what they saw as a new and growing white backlash against African Americans’ gains and cultural change broadly, they helped to cement one of the most central and enduring claims in the period’s elite political and media discourse: white workers comprised the core of an alienated, traditionalist white majority—a group many called Middle America—separated from liberal white professionals by a deep cultural divide.

L&E Evolution Part II: Discrimination

Source: Lorene D. Park, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 69 no. 4, Winter 2018
(subscription required)

This is part two of a multi-part series on the evolution of labor and employment law in the United States.

When President Lyndon B. Johnson urged Congress, in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), he spoke of the need to eliminate “every trace of discrimination and oppression that is based upon race or color.” Here we are, more than 50 years later, and antidiscrimination laws are still a work in progress, moving in directions that earlier generations of lawmakers would likely find surprising: for example, cases involving religious accommodation of atheists, debates over whether adverse actions due to spousal jealousy are “because of ” sex, and discrimination based on perceived disabilities, to mention a few.

New laws have been enacted, including GINA and the OWBPA, and existing laws have expanded, including the ADA and its definition of disability. Court precedent has also evolved in significant ways. For example, some courts now hold that discrimination based on sexual orientation is discrimination “because of … sex” under Title VII, while other courts hold otherwise. Our political climate too has fostered rapid changes in how agencies enforce labor and employment laws, and employers are having a hard time keeping up.

All of this has been influenced, of course, by wave after wave of social movements large and small, usually with a catchphrase and now often prefaced with a hashtag (e.g., #Black Lives Matter, #MeToo). Given the ever-changing legal landscape of antidiscrimination laws, the purpose of this article is to assess what the state of the law is and to consider the directions we are going…..

Related:
L&E Evolution: Redefining Employment Relationships
Source: Lorene D. Park, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 69 No. 1, Spring 2018
(subscription required)

Rapidly advancing technology, cultural changes, and a sharply divided political landscape have so changed the workplace that lawmakers are struggling to catch up and tailor labor and employment laws to reflect these changes, to establish cross-jurisdictional consistency, and to enable employers and practitioners to make decisions based on solid ground. Nowhere is this more obvious than in battles over the most basic of definitions: “employer” and “employee.” This is no simple matter of black letter law, at least not anymore. For example, the proliferation of smart phones and other technology has led to online platforms for gig workers, and a simple “click” of the mouse can create a contract on which companies may rely to require arbitration or to disclaim a traditional employment relationship…..

Inclusive Work Practices: Turnover Intentions Among LGBT Employees of the U.S. Federal Government

Source: Meghna Sabharwal, Helisse Levine, Maria D’Agostino, Tiffany Nguyen, Advance Articles, The American Review of Public Administration, First Published December 12, 2018
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From the abstract:
The federal government lags behind in progressive civil rights policies in regard to universal workplace antidiscrimination laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. The slow progress matters to inclusionary workplace practices and the theory and practice of public administration generally, as recognition of LGBT rights and protection are constitutive of representative bureaucracy and promoting social equity. This study examines the turnover intention rates of self-identified LGBT employees in the U.S. federal government. Using the Office of Personnel Management’s inclusion quotient (IQ), and 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), we identify links in the relationships between workplace inclusion and turnover outcomes among LGBT individuals. We also examine the impact of agency type on LGBT turnover rates based on Lowi’s agency classification type. Key findings suggest that LGBT employees express higher turnover intentions than those that identify as heterosexuals/straight, and LGBT employees who perceive their agencies as redistributive or communal are less likely to experience turnover intentions. However, an open and supportive workplace environment had a positive impact on turnover, suggesting that to implement effective structural change in an organization’s culture of inclusion, public sector managers must do more than merely “talk the talk.” This finding is also suggestive of LGBT employees’ desire to avoid the stigma of being LGBT and hide their identities. Institutions must heed the invisible and visible identities of their employees to be truly inclusive. Workplace practices that acknowledge the invisible and visible identities of their employees are a positive step toward real workplace inclusion.

Underrepresented, Underemployed: In the library-job search, some face special barriers

Source: Anne Ford, American Libraries, Vol. 49 nos. 11/12, November/December 2018

….White’s concerns represent only some of the potential obstacles that people from underrepresented demographic groups face when applying for positions in the library field—a field that remains about 86% white and 97% able-bodied (per the 2017 ALA Demographic Survey, which did not ask about sexual orientation.)

Because the library profession has been trying to diversify itself for a long time—particularly racially, and particularly through initiatives such as diversity task forces and diversity fellowships—some may be surprised that people from underrepresented communities still encounter barriers to library employment….

Does Hiring For ‘Culture Fit’ Perpetuate Bias? Two HR experts debate the issue.

Source: Mel Hennigan and Lindsay Evans, SHRM, HR Today, October 31, 2018

YES: Hiring bias is hiding beneath the cloak of company culture.
When successful tech companies popularized corporate culture as an asset to be fostered and shaped about 15 years ago, it didn’t take long for “culture fit” to become the new jargon used for hiring decisions that are based on personality traits. Considering culture fit as part of the overall package is a good thing for companies that have taken the time to carefully define and weigh the cultural components of the hiring decision. ….

NO: Assessing candidates for culture fit helps ensure their success.
Human capital has a direct impact on an organization’s financial performance, research shows. The people within an organization can provide a competitive advantage—or a disadvantage. Therefore, making the right hiring decisions is critical…..

Republicans Brazenly Gut Voting Rights in Lame Duck Before They Lose Power

Source: Ari Berman, Mother Jones, December 3, 2018

Four states are taking unprecedented steps to strip power from Democrats and make it harder to vote.

Related:
Case Studies in Voter Suppression: Profiling Voter Suppressors
Source: Danielle Root and Aadam Barclay, Center for American Progress Action Fund, November 26, 2018

The John Birch Society is still influencing American politics, 60 years after its founding

Source: Christopher Towler, The Conversation, December 6, 2018

The retired candy entrepreneur Robert Welch founded the John Birch Society 60 years ago to push back against what he perceived as a growing American welfare state modeled on communism and the federal government’s push to desegregate America.

Although Welch’s group has never amassed more than 100,000 dues-paying members, it had garnered an estimated 4 to 6 million sympathizers within four years of its 1958 formation.

As a scholar of political history and social movements, I find many parallels between today’s far right and its predecessors. Just as the John Birch Society emerged in the midst of the civil rights movement, today’s far-right movements formed as a reaction to the election of Barack Obama – a milestone for racial equality…..

…. Even though Welch understood racism and bigotry would hurt his cause, the John Birch Society’s opposition to the civil rights movement attracted Americans sympathetic to racist paranoia. For example, it consistently published reports accusing civil rights leaders of communist subversion and alleging that people of color were plotting to divide the country and control the world. ….

…. The John Birch Society is also directly linked to conservative politics today.

Most notably, Fred Koch, the father of David and Charles Koch, was among the Birch Society’s first 11 members and its main financial backers. The billionaire Koch brothers have pumped massive amounts of money into libertarian causes and conservative political campaigns for decades. ….

The Strength of Whites’ Ties: How Employers Reward the Referrals of Black and White Jobseekers

Source: Fabiana Silva, Social Forces, Volume 97, Issue 2, December 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Sociologists commonly point to jobseekers’ racially segregated networks and employers’ discriminatory behavior to explain racial inequality in employment. Network scholars argue that, given segregated networks and black and white employees’ unequal position in the labor market, employers’ reliance on employee referrals reproduces black disadvantage. Scholars of discrimination focus instead on employers’ unequal treatment of equally qualified black and white jobseekers. Drawing on an original experiment with a sample of white individuals with hiring responsibilities, I seek to bridge these literatures by examining whether respondents’ racial prejudice affects how they reward employee referrals of black and white applicants from black and white employees. I use a measure of implicit prejudice that is resistant to social desirability and that can capture biases among people who genuinely believe they are unbiased. Whether evaluated by low-prejudiced or high-prejudiced respondents, white applicants benefit greatly from same-race referrals. In contrast, black applicants do not benefit from same-race referrals, even when they are evaluated by low-prejudiced respondents. In fact, black applicants only benefit from having a referral when two conditions are met: the referring employee is white and they are evaluated by a relatively low-prejudiced respondent. These findings suggest that in addition to their disadvantage in access to employee referrals, black jobseekers suffer from a disadvantage in returns to these referrals.