Category Archives: Discrimination

How to use stats to fight racial inequality, not support it

Source: Alex Shashkevich, Futurity, June 8, 2018

Using statistics to inform the public about racial disparities can backfire. Worse yet, it can cause some people to be more supportive of the policies that create those inequalities, according to new research. ….

If raw numbers don’t always work, what might?

In a new research paper published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, Hetey and psychology professor Jennifer Eberhardt propose strategies anyone could use to talk about racial disparities that exist across society, from education to health care and criminal justice systems.

Facts should come along with context that challenges stereotypes, the researchers say, noting that discussions should emphasize the importance of policies in shaping racial inequalities. ….

Related:
The Numbers Don’t Speak for Themselves: Racial Disparities and the Persistence of Inequality in the Criminal Justice System
Source: Rebecca C. Hetey, Jennifer L. Eberhardt, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 27 no. 3, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Many scholars and activists assume the public would be motivated to fight inequality if only they knew the full extent of existing disparities. Ironically, exposure to extreme disparities can cause people to become more, not less, supportive of the very policies that create those disparities (Hetey & Eberhardt, 2014). Here, we focus on the criminal justice system—policing and incarceration in particular. We argue that bringing to mind racial disparities in this domain can trigger fear and stereotypic associations linking Blacks with crime. Therefore, rather than extending an invitation to reexamine the criminal justice system, the statistics about disparities may instead provide an opportunity to justify and rationalize the disparities found within that system. With the goals of spurring future research and mitigating this paradoxical and unintended effect, we propose three potential strategies for more effectively presenting information about racial disparities: (a) offer context, (b) challenge associations, and (c) highlight institutions.

Only 1 in 4 women who have been sexually harassed tell their employers. Here’s why they’re afraid

Source: Margaret E. Johnson, The Conversation, June 5, 2018

…. But a question #MeToo has been asking since the beginning is how will this affect the lives of women far from the high-powered worlds of Hollywood and Washington. Is this making it any easier for a low or mid-wage worker in middle America to rid her workplace of a sexual harasser?

One important way of doing this is by making an official complaint to the employer. But while women will often complain to family or even on social media, most don’t tell their companies of the misconduct. In fact, barely 1 in 4 ever do. ….

5 wage gap myths about women at work

Source: Amy McCaig, Futurity, May 31, 2018

Blame for the gender wage gap in the United States shouldn’t fall on women, report researchers.

In a review paper, they draw on existing psychological research to highlight myths regarding the gap between men and women and to offer possible explanations for why it exists. ….

5 myths about the gender wage gap:
Myth 1: Women aren’t doing equal work. ….
Myth 2: Women leave the workplace to have and raise children. ….
Myth 3: Women choose less lucrative professions. ….
Myth 4: Women don’t ask for what they want. ….
Myth 5: Women don’t have as much education or experience as men. ….

6 ways organizations can eliminate the wage gap:
1. Identify and remove barriers. ….
2. Provide equal growth opportunities. ….
3. Take action toward implementing better work/life balance. ….
4. Provide ongoing training. ….
5. Have anti-discrimination policies. ….
6. Have and promote male allies. ….

Related:
Victim Precipitation and the Wage Gap
Source: Shannon Cheng, Abigail Corrington, Mikki Hebl, Linnea Ng, Volume 11, Issue 1 March 2018
(subscription required)

In response to: Beyond Blaming the Victim: Toward a More Progressive Understanding of Workplace Mistreatment
From the abstract:
Cortina, Rabelo, and Holland (2018) accurately cite the general public’s overuse of victim precipitation ideologies, or the notion that victims engage in actions that directly bring about their unfortunate circumstances. These ideologies also have permeated industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology and the study of people in the workplace (e.g., women’s choice in clothing leads to sexual harassment, certain target characteristics and actions incite workplace bullying). We agree with Cortina et al. that this ideology unintentionally benefits the perpetrator by placing blame and responsibility for nonoptimal workplace situations directly on the target. The field of I-O psychology needs to move away from this model of victim blaming as a remediation for workplace disparities.

Privilege on the Precipice: Perceived Racial Status Threats Lead White Americans to Oppose Welfare Programs

Source: Rachel Wetts, Robb Willer, Social Forces, Advance Access, Published: May 31 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Here, we integrate prior work to develop and test a theory of how perceived macro-level trends in racial standing shape whites’ views of welfare policy. We argue that when whites perceive threats to their relative advantage in the racial status hierarchy, their resentment of minorities increases. This increased resentment in turn leads whites to withdraw support for welfare programs when they perceive these programs to primarily benefit minorities. Analysis of American National Election Studies data and two survey-embedded experiments support this reasoning. In Study 1, we find that whites’ racial resentment increased beginning in 2008, the year of Barack Obama’s successful presidential candidacy and a major economic downturn, the latter a factor previously shown to amplify racial threat effects. At the same time, whites’ opposition to welfare increased relative to minorities’. In Study 2, we sought to better establish the causal effect of racial status threats. We found that experimentally presenting information suggesting that the white majority is rapidly declining increased whites’ opposition to welfare, and this effect was mediated by heightened racial resentment. Finally, in Study 3 we found that threatening whites’ sense of their economic advantage over minorities led whites to report greater opposition to welfare programs, but only if these programs were portrayed as primarily benefiting minorities, not if they were portrayed as benefiting whites. These findings suggest that whites’ perceptions that minorities’ standing is rising can produce periods of “welfare backlash” in which adoption of policies restricting or curtailing welfare programs is more likely.

The NFL’s “take a knee” ban is flatly illegal

Source: Benjamin Sachs, Vox, May 25, 2018

NFL team owners this week decided that players will no longer be allowed to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem. And if they do, they will be subject to punishment and their team will be subject to fines.

The owners did provide the players with an alternative, of sorts: If a player does not wish to stand and salute the flag, he can stay in the locker room and wait for the anthem to end. This new league policy is meant to enforce a particular vision of patriotism, one that involves compliance rather than freedom of expression. The policy is also illegal — for a host of reasons.

The clearest illegality derives from the fact that the league adopted its new policy without bargaining with the players union. When employees, including football players, are represented by a union, the employer — including a football league — can’t change the terms of employment without discussing the change with the union. Doing so is a flagrant violation of the employer’s duty to bargain in good faith.

If, as the NFL Players Association says, the employer implemented this change on its own, the policy is flatly illegal for that reason and should be rescinded by the league…..

Free Speech Rights: Public Employees v. Football Players

Source: Sharon Block, Maddy Joseph, On Labor blog, May 30, 2018

“[S]peech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection.” Snyder v. Phelps, 562 U.S. 443, 452 (2011) (citation omitted).

Nearly every brief filed in Janus v. AFSCME advocating for the Supreme Court to invalidate as unconstitutional union fair share dues, including the Petitioner and Trump Administration’s briefs, centers this quotation and sentiment. These briefs argue that the essence of democracy hangs on the right and ability of citizens to freely express their own individual political beliefs in the marketplace of ideas. Their deepest concern is that required fair share dues compel public sector workers to subsidize political speech. The government’s brief deems this a “severe burden” on workers’ constitutional rights.

While we don’t share the view that the effect of fair share dues is to compel speech, we don’t disagree that free speech is essential to democracy and that employer coercion of worker speech is detrimental to democracy. (Indeed, a new book by Alexander Hertl-Fernandez of Columbia University argues that this is a growing problem in the American workplace.) That’s one reason why we’re troubled by the NFL’s new policy punishing taking a knee during the national anthem. As Ben recently argued in Vox, the NFL policy raises serious free speech concerns and should violate the First Amendment. President Trump and Vice President Pence actively encouraged adoption of the ban on anthem protests; NFL owners have even stated that the ban was “initiated” by the President’s interventions. The ban is exactly the kind of coercion and subsidization of political speech that Janus supporters should be howling about. Yet, as several OnLabor readers have pointed out (here and here), Janus supporters have been curiously silent about the free speech rights of NFL players. This silence raises the question of how strongly and under what circumstances Janus supporters believe their own argument…..

Teen Organizers in Birmingham Are Working to Build an Inclusive Movement

Source: Lizzie Shackney, Teen Vogue, May 30, 2018

….The March for Our Lives Birmingham student organizers knew that diverse leadership mattered, but they struggled to achieve suburban/urban equity within the structure of their group in the month leading up to the event. Their efforts were hindered by the fact that before the march, they say, they had only a limited connection to the city of Birmingham and the students who went to school there.

In order to understand the challenge of building a representative antigun violence movement in Birmingham, one must examine the state of segregation in Jefferson County. Today, high schools in suburban school districts such as Hoover, Mountain Brook, Trussville, and Vestavia Hills are majority white. Birmingham City Schools are 99 percent black. It’s likely that the barriers to inclusive, coalition-based organizing derive from systems set up long ago to prevent the recognition of shared interests and collective action…..

Lowe’s Is Making Managers Sign Arbitration Agreements If They Want Their Bonuses

Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post, May 29, 2018

We’re going to see a whole lot more of these “voluntary” agreements after last week’s Supreme Court ruling.

Lowe’s has a message for its store managers: Sign this or else.

Salaried managers and assistant managers at the big-box home improvement retailer are being required to enter binding arbitration agreements under the threat of losing their valuable bonuses, according to a copy of the contract obtained by HuffPost.

By signing the contract, managers agree they won’t take Lowe’s to court with any claims or join in class-action lawsuits against the company. Instead, any grievance they have must be taken individually and in private to an arbitrator ― an arrangement that could significantly cut back workers’ legal claims of unpaid work. ….

Related:
The Supreme Court’s Arbitration Ruling Is Already Screwing Thousands Of Chipotle Workers
Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post, May 27, 2018

The burrito chain has asked a court to exclude 2,814 workers from a massive wage theft lawsuit because they signed mandatory arbitration agreements.

Editorial: Forced arbitration hides workplace abuses. No one should forfeit rights for a job
Source: Sacramento Bee, May 24, 2018

Forced Arbitration
Source: Economic Policy Institute, 2017

Forced arbitration, especially where it prohibits the use of a class action of any kind, can be very destructive of employee rights, undermines labor standards, and contributes to wage suppression, discrimination, and poorer working conditions.

The Supreme Court Favors Forced Arbitration at the Expense of Workers’ Rights
Source: Galen Sherwin, ACLU Women’s Rights Project, May 22, 2018

The #MeToo movement has offered an important lesson on the collective power of voices joining together to take on individual experiences of injustice. On Monday, the Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to precisely this kind of collective power, ruling against the ability of workers to join together to take on employment discrimination and abuse.

The court ruled that employers are free to force workers who have been victims of unfair labor practices into private arbitration to address their claims — even in cases where workers sought to bring a collective legal action. The decision came in a case about failure to pay overtime, but its implications are far broader and extend to many of the claims of harassment and discrimination that have surfaced thanks to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements…..

#MeToo Movement May Impact Law Enforcement Operations In Key Ways

Source: Michael Levin Epstein, Esq., Employment Alert, Volume 35, Issue 10, May 15, 2018
(subscription required)

Two words have become a rallying cry for victims of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault—and have been incorporated into a social media hashtag to help promote awareness of the problems.

#MeToo came into national attention last October after accusations of sexual harassment and assault were directed against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

Other complaints have alleged misconduct by individuals in the news media, business, and politics—including members of Congress.

The impact on law enforcement

Police and law enforcement operations may be affected in several ways by the “Me Too” movement, including increased complaints by individuals against alleged offenders—and complaints aimed at police officers.

Complaints often involve allegations of use of excessive force, but published reports note state records of police license revocations indicate that sexual misconduct by officers appears to be a problem as well. ….