Category Archives: Discrimination

Civil Rights Lemonade: Title VII, Gender, and Working Options for Working Families

Source: Tristin Green, University of San Francisco – School of Law, Research Paper No. 2014-16, 2014

From the abstract:
Erected barriers can sometimes open up new avenues of thought that we might otherwise have missed. So the title of this article, Civil Rights Lemonade, written on the theme of “Procedural Barriers to Civil Rights” for the 2014 Stanford Law School Symposium: The Civil Rights Act at Fifty. I set out to make three contributions in this article. First, I show that recent procedural setbacks in the area of employment discrimination law are rooted at least in part in the Supreme Court’s concern about fairness to large organizations. The Court’s decisions in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, Ledbetter v. Goodyear, and Wal-Mart v. Dukes can all be understood in this way. Second, I urge the telling of a new story of the importance of Title VII that can serve as a counterweight to the Court’s concern: the need to open working options for working families. I begin to tell this story through the lens of rural communities that have recently experienced substantial labor market shifts that make balancing work and family more difficult and yet that continue to see substantial sex segregation in work. Third, I highlight several ways in which existing procedural tools might be useful to plaintiffs seeking to tell this story in courts to challenge sex-based exclusion.

Affirmative Action Bans and Black Admission Outcomes: Selection-Corrected Estimates from UC Law Schools

Source: Danny Yagan, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 20361, July 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The consequences of banning affirmative action depend on schools’ ability and willingness to avoid it. This paper uses rich application-level data to estimate the effect of the 1996 University of California affirmative action ban—the first and largest ban—on black admission advantages at UC law schools. Controlling for selective attrition from applicant pools, I find that the ban reduced the black admission rate from 61% to 31%. This implies that affirmative action ban avoidance is far from complete and suggests that affirmative action at law schools passes the constitutional test of not being easily replaced by non-racial alternatives. I further find that the affirmative action ban far from eliminated cross-sectional black admission advantages, which remained as high as 63 percentage points for applicants at the margin of being accepted or rejected. This suggests that UC schools were technologically able to sustain substantially higher black admission rates after the ban but were either unwilling or legally unable to do so.

The Prison Boom and the Lack of Black Progress after Smith and Welch

Source: Derek A. Neal, Armin Rick, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w20283, July 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
More than two decades ago, Smith and Welch (1989) used the 1940 through 1980 census files to document important relative black progress. However, recent data indicate that this progress did not continue, at least among men. The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965. A move toward more punitive treatment of arrested offenders drove prison growth in recent decades, and this trend is evident among arrested offenders in every major crime category. Changes in the severity of corrections policies have had a much larger impact on black communities than white communities because arrest rates have historically been much greater for blacks than whites.

Latino Voices: The Impact of Crime and Criminal Justice Policies

Source: Californians for Safety and Justice, June 2014

From the summary:
Latino Voices: The Impact of Crime and Criminal Justice Policies on Latinos reveals that most public safety policies don’t align with many Latino needs and values – and highlights growing calls for change. Para leer el informe en español, haga clic aquí.

Despite representing a larger portion of California’s population than whites, Latinos are dramatically overrepresented as crime victims – and in our courts, jails and prisons. Research shows that Latinos receive harsher treatment in arrests, pretrial proceedings and sentencing than whites, even when charged with the same offenses. Other findings include:
Victims of Crime
∙ Latinos are murdered twice as much as whites in California — and more by strangers.
∙ Latinos are more likely to be shot and burglarized than whites.
∙ Hate crimes against Latinos rise as immigration increases.
∙ California Latinos experienced more repeat crimes than survivors overall.
∙ Half of Latino survivors are unaware of recovery services.
Unequal Treatment in the System
∙ Latinos awaiting trial were more likely to be denied bail, or their bail was set higher than African Americans or whites.
∙ Latinos were 44% more likely to be incarcerated than whites for the same crimes.
Latinos Support Change
∙ California Latino voters want officials to focus on less incarceration, not more
∙ They want more supervised probation and rehabilitationby a five-to-one margin over sending more people to jail/prison.
∙ Eight in 10 support shortening long sentences and using the savings for education, health services and prevention.

Labor Lessons from Mississippi Freedom Summer

Source: Larry Rubin, Labor Notes, July 22, 2014

It’s the 50th anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer: the 1964 campaign, led by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to register large numbers of African Americans to vote. Not only hundreds of Black and white college students and other out-of-state volunteers but also thousands of Mississippians bravely joined the effort. Many endured arrests, beatings, bombings. Some were murdered. But in the process they embarrassed the U.S. on the world stage and moved the country to end Jim Crow. While that summer’s campaign focused on political rights, the organizing holds plenty of lessons for unionists. Some, like Larry Rubin, carried those lessons into the labor movement themselves.—eds.

Par for the Course?: Exploring the Impacts of Incarceration and Marginalization on Poor Black Men in the U.S.

Source: Nekima Levy-Pounds, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN – School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-23, 2013

From the abstract:
African Americans represent 13% of the U.S. population, but represent nearly 40% of those who are incarcerated in local jails and state and federal prisons. Poor black men in particular are more susceptible to experiencing incarceration due to high rates of poverty, unemployment, marginalization, and exclusion from mainstream society. Additionally, laws and policies that comprise the war on drugs have fueled a tremendous growth in rates of incarceration for this segment of the population, with devastating consequences to boot for the children, families, and communities of those who are incarcerated. Further, this paper explores the links between the historical links between Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution and the current over-representation of African Americans within the criminal justice system. Finally, this paper examines disturbing trends in unemployment, poverty, and incarceration of African American men in Detroit, Michigan.

Public Sector Unions and the Poor

Source: Jake Rosenfeld, OnLabor Blog, Guest Post, July 22, 2014

…Of the ten states with the highest public sector unionization rates, seven have poverty rates below or at the national average. Of the ten states with the lowest public sector unionization rates, meanwhile, seven have above-average poverty levels. Is this decisive evidence that strong public sector unions cause lower poverty? Of course not. But it’s certainly not the pattern one would expect to see if public sector unions increased the cost and reduced the availability of services to the poor. Other research is more dispositive: in a comprehensive statistical examination of what causes household poverty in the U.S., sociologist David Brady and his colleagues find that two key predictors of lower poverty is state-level unionization and working in the public sector. … Additional research points to the critical role public sector expansion and public sector unionization have on reducing racial inequality. Andrew Strom highlighted the historic Civil Rights drive to organize sanitation workers in Memphis. The connections between government unionization and African-Americans extend well beyond that campaign. … Recent privatization of governmental services has hurt African-American workers more than others, helping to reverse hard-fought gains. ….
When Unionization Disappears: State-Level Unionization and Working Poverty in the United States
Source: David Brady, Regina S. Baker, and Ryan Finnigan, American Sociological Review, Vol. 78 no. 5, October 2013 (subscription required)

What Do We Really Know About Racial Inequality? Labor Markets, Politics, and the Historical Basis of Black Economic Fortunes
Source: William Sites, Virginia Parks, Politics & Society, Vol. 39 no. 1, March 2011

Public Sector Unions — Some History and Economics
Source: Andrew Strom, OnLabor Blog, Guest Post, July 18, 2014
(subscription required)

Privatization and Racial Inequality

Source: Vincent J. Roscigno, George Wilson, Contexts, Vol. 13 no. 1, Winter 2014

New York’s “Poor Doors”: A Next City Explainer

Source: Ariella Cohen, Next City, July 22, 2014

Why do I keep seeing headlines about a “poor door”?
The term is quite literal. It refers to a second entrance in a luxury condo building for tenants living in units reserved for lower-income renters. It has become shorthand for segregation of people based on how much rent they can pay…. But what raises the hackles of critics is the fact that the developers building separate entrances for two classes of residents are receiving subsidies for the affordable units through an inclusionary housing program intended to create mixed-income communities. These developers are receiving lucrative tax abatements in exchange for the creation of affordable units and sometimes, like at One Riverside Park, also receiving a valuable floor area bonus in exchange for units. In the case of One Riverside, Extell is selling that floor area bonus for a profit to a developer looking to build nearby….. Plus, the two-class entrances is part of a larger trend of segregating buildings by rent levels; in a growing number of mixed-income buildings, owners are barring rent-stabilized tenants from using amenities open to their more affluent neighbors. In one Upper West Side building called Stonehenge Village, tenants weren’t allowed to pay extra to use the gym on the lobby level even after local pols intervened on behalf of tenants and public advocate Letitia James filed a discrimination complaint….

How Social Movements Can Win More Victories Like Same-Sex Marriage

Source: Mark Engler and Paul Engler, Dissent blog, July 16, 2014

Not long ago, same-sex marriage in America was not merely an unpopular cause; it was a politically fatal one—a third-rail issue that could end the career of any politician foolish enough to touch it. The idea that gay and lesbian couples would be able to legally exchange vows in states throughout the United States was regarded, at best, as a far-off fantasy and, at worst, as a danger to the republic. …

… Currently, nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages, a number that is increasing at a brisk rate. An ever-growing majority of the public expresses its support in national polls, and statistician Nate Silver projects that majorities favoring marriage equality will coalesce in even deeply conservative Southern states by 2024. …

…What is striking about this is not just the seeming suddenness of the reversal. It is that the rapidly expanding victory around same-sex marriage defies many of our common ideas about how social change happens.

This was not a win that came in measured doses, but rather a situation in which the floodgates of progress were opened after years of half-steps and seemingly devastating reversals. It was not something enacted thanks to a senate majority leader twisting arms or a charismatic president pounding his bully pulpit. Instead, it came about through the efforts of a broad-based movement, pushing for increased acceptance of LGBT rights within a wide range of constituencies. The cumulative result was to change the terms of national debate, turning the impossible into the inevitable.

This is perhaps the most important point: Rather than being based on calculating realism—a shrewd assessment of what was attainable in the current political climate—the drive for marriage equality drew on a transformational vision. It was grounded in the idea that if social movements could win the battle over public opinion, the courts and the legislators would ultimately follow.

For those interested in promoting further transformation in the United States and beyond, there are few ideas more worthy of careful and sustained examination….

The Voting Rights Act of 1965: Background and Overview

Source: Kevin J. Coleman, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R43626, July 1, 2014

…This report provides background information on the historical circumstances that led to the adoption of the VRA, a summary of its major provisions, and a brief discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court decision and related legislation in the 113th Congress. Two identical bills—H.R. 3899 and S. 1945—have been introduced that would amend the VRA by adding a new coverage formula, among other provisions. No action has occurred on either bill…