Category Archives: Discrimination

Creating a Federal Right to Vote

Source: Joshua Field, Center for American Progress, June 25, 2013

From the summary:
…In a 5–4 decision, the High Court gutted a law that was renewed by Congress just seven years ago, and has protected voters from—among other acts of discrimination—purposeful vote dilution, overly restrictive voting procedures, and voter intimidation. The Court held that the formula that identifies the states and localities that are required to “preclear” their voting procedures and laws is unconstitutional and can no longer be used as a basis to subject those states and localities to oversight. Although the Court admits that “voting discrimination still exists,” its decision currently leaves voters with fewer protections against potentially discriminatory voting laws.

The Court’s decision is clearly a blow for voting rights, but it also serves as a wake-up call for Americans to become educated about the lack of protections in place to combat voting discrimination. Even with the Voting Rights Act, lawmakers have played politics with state voting laws and imposed political ideology at the expense of disenfranchised Americans. We should consider what legal protections remain for voters, as well as what can be done to ensure that all eligible voters can freely and easily participate in our democracy. …

It Shouldn’t Be a Heavy Lift: Fair Treatment for Pregnant Workers

Source: Emily Martin, Liz Watson, Dina Bakst and Elizabeth Gedmark, National women’s Law Center and A Better Balance, June 2013

From the summary:
Almost 35 years after the Pregnancy Discrimination Act made it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of her pregnancy, women still face discrimination on the job when they become pregnant. This report details what happens when some workers ask for temporary modifications of their job duties because of pregnancy, such as avoiding heavy lifting, staying off high ladders, or being permitted to sit down during a long shift. These are many of the same types of job adjustments typically provided to workers with disabilities, but pregnancy is not a disability. Despite the Pregnancy Discrimination Act’s protections, pregnant workers’ requests are often denied — leaving many pregnant women without a salary because they are forced to quit, are fired, or are pushed out onto unpaid leave.

Over the past year and a half, A Better Balance and the National Women’s Law Center have spoken with dozens of women across the country and across the economic spectrum who have experienced job loss, diminished income, or pregnancy complications or loss after their employers refused to make reasonable job adjustments while they were pregnant, even as they accommodated workers with limitations arising out of disability or injury. These women are often surprised to find that their employers are unwilling to make even the smallest changes, and are shocked that many employers do not recognize when they are breaking the law by denying these accommodations.

Throughout the report, we highlight the stories of pregnant women who were denied the temporary accommodations they sought in order to continue working safely. As a result, these women lost income, lost their jobs, or continued to work at risk to their health. Their first-hand accounts shine a light on the need to ensure that pregnant women are not pushed out of work at the very moment their families’ financial needs are increasing, when reasonable adjustments would allow them to continue to do their jobs. They demonstrate the need for policies, enforcement efforts, and laws that ensure that pregnant women will not be treated worse than workers with disabilities, injuries, or other physical limitations.

The Unfinished March: An Overview

Source: Algernon Austin, Economic Policy Institute, June 18, 2013

From the press release:
Fifty years after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, most of its goals have not been accomplished, a new EPI report finds. In The Unfinished March: An Overview, Algernon Austin, director of EPI’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy, explains that while the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom led to legislative victories—including mandating equal access to public accommodations, barring racial discrimination in employment, and protecting blacks’ voting rights—the hard economic tasks of the march remain a distant dream. The remaining goals of the march include the demand for decent housing, adequate and integrated education, full employment, and a national minimum wage that can realistically lift a family out of poverty—all of which are crucial to transforming the life opportunities of African Americans and people of all races and ethnicities. View the report’s infographic, “The Unfinished Business of the 1963 March on Washington.”…

….This paper launches a new Economic Policy Institute project, The Unfinished March, that will review America’s civil rights successes as well as the significant amount of civil rights work that remains to be done and will be followed by a series of nine reports written by some of the nation’s leading experts. Each report will address a specific civil rights goal, the progress that has or has not been made, and, if necessary, the policy measures needed to fully realize the goal. In addition, on Monday, July 22, EPI will host a symposium on the history of the march and the current economic and political challenges facing communities of color….

Click here for full image

50 years of recessionary-level unemployment in black America
Source: Algernon Austin, Economic Policy Institute, Economic snapshot, Race and Ethnicity, June 19, 2013

Gender, the Labor Process and Dignity at Work

Source: Martha Crowley, Social Forces, Volume 91, Issue 4, June 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study brings together gender inequality and labor process research to investigate how divergent control structures generate inequality in work experiences for women and men. Content-coded data on 155 work groups are analyzed using Qualitative Comparative Analysis to identify combinations of control techniques encountered by female and male work groups and their relationship to outcomes measuring workplace dignity. Results suggest that male work groups more often encounter persuasive “bundles” of control that enhance autonomy, creativity, meaningfulness and satisfaction, while female work groups confront more coercive arrangements, especially direct supervision, that erode these and other foundations of dignity at work. I conclude with implications of these findings relative to understandings of the labor process, workplace sex segregation and forms of inequality not so easily quantified in dominant approaches to stratification.

The Moynihan Report Revisited

Source: Gregory Acs, Kenneth Braswell, Elaine Sorensen, Margery Austin Turner, Urban Institute, June 2013

From the abstract:
In 1965’s The Negro Family: The Case for National Actions, Daniel Patrick Moynihan described a “tangle of pathologies” –from disintegrating families to poor educational outcomes, weak job prospects, concentrated neighborhood poverty, dysfunctional communities, and crime–that would create a self-perpetuating cycle of deprivation, hardship, and inequality for black families. Today, although social progress has created opportunities for many members of the black community, the United States still struggles with many of the problems Moynihan identified. If we don’t enhance economic opportunities and social equity for black families, we may spend the next 50 years lamenting our continued lack of progress.
The Black Family: Five Decades After the Moynihan Report
Source: Press Release, Urban Institute June 13, 2013

Moynihan Black Poverty Report Revisited 50 Years Later

Source: Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR, Code Switch blog, June 13, 2013

Up the Down Staircase: Women’s Upward Mobility and the Wage Penalty for Occupational Feminization, 1970-2007

Source: Hadas Mandel, Social Forces, Vol. 91 no. 4, June 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study examines the long-term trends of two parallel and related gender effects, in light of the hypothesis that highly rewarded occupations will be the most penalized by the process of feminization. Using multilevel models of the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series data from 1970 to 2007, the study analyzes trends in women’s occupational mobility and juxtaposes these trends with trends in the effects of feminization on occupational pay across diverse occupational wage groups. The findings reveal two opposing processes of gender (in)equality: during this period, many women had impressive success in entering highly rewarded occupations. Simultaneously, however, the negative effect of feminization on the pay levels of these occupations intensified, particularly in high-paid and male-typed occupations. Consequently, women found themselves moving “up the down staircase.” The findings confirm the dynamic nature of gender discrimination and have broad implications for our understanding of the devaluation and exclusion mechanisms discussed in earlier literature.

The Business Impact of LGBT-Supportive Workplace Policies

Source: M.V. Lee Badgett, Laura E. Durso, Angeliki Kastanis, Christy Mallory, Williams Institute, May 2013

From the summary:
LGBT-supportive policies are linked to positive business-related outcomes. LGBT-supportive policies are also linked to greater job commitment, improved workplace relationships, increased job satisfaction, and improved health outcomes among LGBT employees. LGBT employees are also less likely to face discrimination in such environments and are more comfortable being open about their sexual orientation.
See also:
Press release

A Broken Bargain: Discrimination, Fewer Benefits and More Taxes for LGBT Workers

Source: Movement Advancement Project, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Center for American Progress, June 2013

From the summary:
The basic American bargain is that people who work hard and meet their responsibilities should be able to get ahead. This basic bargain is not just an idea—it is embedded in laws that promote equal access to jobs and that protect workers from unfair practices.

For workers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), this bargain is broken. Instead of having a fair chance to get ahead, LGBT workers and their families often are held back by bias, fewer workplace benefits, and higher taxes.

Employers who value diversity and who understand that it gives them a competitive advantage can take some steps to ease the burden of unfair treatment of LGBT workers and their families, but they can’t fix the broken bargain on their own. The reason: unequal treatment of LGBT workers under the law.

First, no federal law provides explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBT workers, and fewer than half of states have laws that protect workers based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Second, LGBT workers may do the same job as their coworkers, yet be denied equal access to worker and family benefits—as well as family tax relief.

The combination of job discrimination, fewer benefits and higher taxes leaves many LGBT workers in a vulnerable position that threatens their ability to provide for themselves and their families. If fairness and equality are part of America’s basic workplace bargain, this bargain is clearly broken for LGBT worker.

What Do I Need to Vote? Bias in Information Provision by Local Election Officials

Source: Julie K. Faller, Noah L. Nathan and Ariel R. White, Harvard University, Preliminary draft, May 10, 2013

From the abstract:
The adoption of voter identification (ID) requirements has raised concerns that these laws differentially reduce turnout among minorities. We use a field experiment to investigate one mechanism by which these laws could reduce turnout: differential in- formation provision about voting requirements to minorities. We contact over 7,000 local election administrators in 48 states and observe that they provide different in- formation about ID requirements to voters of different putative ethnicities. Emails sent from Latino aliases are significantly less likely to receive any response from local election officials than non-Latino white aliases and receive responses of lower quality. This raises concerns about the effect of voter ID laws on access to the franchise and about bias in the provision of information by local bureaucrats more generally.

Unemployed (and Black) Need Not Apply: A Discussion of Unemployment Discrimination, Its Disparate Impact on the Black Community, and Proposed Legal Remedies

Source: Jasmine A. Williams, Howard Law Journal, Vol. 56 no. 2, Winter 2013
(scroll down)

…Discrimination against the unemployed is having a negative impact on the job-seeking community in general. However, it is having an extremely adverse impact on the black community. There are many proposed solutions to this problem, although few propose to address the effect of the practice in the black community. These several prominent proposed remedies can be divided into two categories: private suits and legislative remedies. Private suits describe the proposal to create a cause of action that would allow applicants to bring lawsuits for discrimination based on unemployment status. Legislative remedies refer to proposed remedies such as hiring tax incentives and government-sponsored work training programs.

This Comment argues that a private cause of action is an inadequate and unrealistic remedy to address the problem of unemployment discrimination. Part I discusses the nature of the problem as it pertains to the black community. Part II describes the proposed private cause of action remedy, the history of employment discrimination, the approach courts have taken in response to this issue under Title VII, and the application of Title VII standards to a proposed cause of action for discrimination based on unemployment status. Part III discusses legislative proposed remedies and their viability. Part IV addresses some of the qualities necessary for an appropriate remedy. Lastly, Part V summarizes the remedies discussed and their potential for success…