Category Archives: Discrimination

Fear and Loathing Across Party Lines: New Evidence on Group Polarization

Source: Shanto Iyengar and Sean J. Westwood, Stanford University and Princeton University, June 2014

When defined in terms of social identity and affect toward in- and out-groups, the polarization of the American electorate has clearly increased. We document the scope and consequences of affective polarization using implicit, explicit, and behavioral indicators. Our evidence demonstrates not only that hostile feelings for the out-party are ingrained or automatic in voters’ psyches, but also that affective polarization based on party surpasses polarization based on race and other social cleavages. After documenting the extent of implicit party polarization, we show that party cues exert powerful effects on non-political judgments and behaviors. Partisans discriminate against out partisans, and do so to a degree that exceeds discrimination based on race. In concluding, we note that heightened partisan affect and the intrusion of partisan bias into non-political domains means that American parties now resemble the model of the “mass membership” party.
Supporting materials

One Strike and You’re Out: How We Can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records

Source: Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich, Center for American Progress, December 2014

From the summary:
…Today, a criminal record serves as both a direct cause and consequence of poverty. It is a cause because having a criminal record can present obstacles to employment, housing, public assistance, education, family reunification, and more; convictions can result in monetary debts as well. It is a consequence due to the growing criminalization of poverty and homelessness. One recent study finds that our nation’s poverty rate would have dropped by 20 percent between 1980 and 2004 if not for mass incarceration and the subsequent criminal records that haunt people for years after they have paid their debt to society. Failure to address this link as part of a larger anti-poverty agenda risks missing a major piece of the puzzle. …. The United States must craft policies to ensure that Americans with criminal records have a fair shot at a decent life for themselves and their families….

Racial Inequality Trends and the Intergenerational Persistence of Income and Family Structure

Source: Deirdre Bloome, American Sociological Review, Vol. 79 no. 6, December 2014
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From the abstract:
Racial disparity in family incomes remained remarkably stable over the past 40 years in the United States despite major legal and social reforms. Previous scholarship presents two primary explanations for persistent inequality through a period of progressive change. One highlights continuity: because socioeconomic status is transmitted from parents to children, disparities created through histories of discrimination and opportunity denial may dissipate slowly. The second highlights change: because family income results from joining individual earnings in family units, changing family compositions can offset individuals’ changing economic chances. I examine whether black-white family income inequality trends are better characterized by the persistence of existing disadvantage (continuity) or shifting forms of disadvantage (change). I combine cross-sectional and panel analysis using Current Population Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Census, and National Vital Statistics data. Results suggest that African Americans experience relatively extreme intergenerational continuity (low upward mobility) and discontinuity (high downward mobility); both helped maintain racial inequality. Yet, intergenerational discontinuities allow new forms of disadvantage to emerge. On net, racial inequality trends are better characterized by changing forms of disadvantage than by continuity. Economic trends were equalizing but demographic trends were disequalizing; as family structures shifted, family incomes did not fully reflect labor-market gains

EEOC Expands Pregnancy Discrimination Definitions and Offers New Guidance That Increases Employer Obligations to Pregnant Employees

Source: Allison L. Goico, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 40 no. 3, Winter 2014
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The author of this article discusses recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination and related issues. Until the U.S. Supreme Court considers the issue or Congress acts, the author advises employers to review their policies related to leave, light duty, and other accommodations.

The Anti-Bottleneck Principle in Employment Discrimination Law

Source: Joseph Fishkin, University of Texas School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 617, May 27, 2014

From the abstract:
State legislatures and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) have moved in parallel in recent years to provide new protections for the employment prospects of some surprising groups: people who are unemployed, people who have poor credit, and people with past criminal convictions. These new protections confound our usual theories of what antidiscrimination law is about. These groups are disanalogous in a variety of respects to groups defined by such characteristics as race, sex, and national origin. But the legislators and regulators enacting these new protections were responding to pervasive problems they observed in the opportunity structure of our society — problems of a particular kind that I call bottlenecks. Essentially, these legal actors judged that poor credit, unemployment, and past criminal convictions were having too outsized an effect on a person’s employment prospects. If many or most employers demand good credit, then good credit becomes a serious bottleneck: a narrow place through which workers must pass to reach a wide range of opportunities on the other side.

This Article argues that the anti-bottleneck principle — the principle that the law ought to ameliorate severe bottlenecks in the opportunity structure where it can feasibly do so — is not only a way of understanding these new, cutting-edge protections, but also a way of understanding much of the project of Title VII and our existing body of antidiscrimination law. This Article explores the role the anti-bottleneck principle plays in legislators’ decisions to enact antidiscrimination laws and in decisions by judges and by the EEOC about how to interpret and enforce such laws. The Article argues that the anti-bottleneck idea is at the heart of both disparate treatment law and disparate impact law — and that it should cause us to think differently about the function of disparate impact law. The EEOC lawyers who started down the path that led to Griggs v. Duke Power understood that general ability tests were becoming a major bottleneck in the opportunity structure. By limiting the use of those tests, Griggs ameliorated a bottleneck that had arbitrarily constrained the opportunities of many whites as well as blacks.

Finally, turning from the positive to the normative, this Article defends the central — if previously unacknowledged — role that the anti-bottleneck principle plays in our law of equal employment opportunity. It is a profound challenge for any legal system to promote “equal opportunity” in a world of pervasive difference and inequality, where the mechanisms that perpetuate inequality shift over time. The anti-bottleneck principle turns out to be a strong and surprisingly practical response to these challenges.

Making Schools More Separate and Unequal: Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1

Source: Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-59, November 20, 2014

From the abstract:
American public schools are increasingly separate and unequal. By every measure public schools are more becoming more racially segregated. The Supreme Court deserves a great deal of the blame for this. There has not been a single Supreme Court decision since Rodriguez in 1973 that has furthered desegregation or enhanced the equality of American public education. The Supreme Court’s major cases on equal educational opportunity – including Rodriguez, Milliken, Dowell, – have limited the ability of courts to create equal educational opportunity. But many schools boards on their own implemented plans to enhance racial diversity and desegregate their schools. In 2007, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1, imposed significant, new limits on the ability of school systems to adopt such voluntary desegregation programs. Part I of this essay describes the Court’s decision in Parents Involved. Part II describes the effects of the decision on American public education. Part III explains why the decision is fundamentally flawed in its premises and its conclusions. Parents Involved must be understood in the context of now 40 years of Supreme Court decisions that have contributed to their being increasingly separate and unequal schools.

Fifty Years Later: The Legacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Source: Joni Hersch, Jennifer Bennett Shinall, Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 14-33, November 25, 2014

From the abstract:
This paper assesses the legacy of the Civil Rights Act over the past fifty years, reviewing its history, scope, and impact on wage, employment, and segregation outcomes of the Act’s five protected classes. In addition to improving outcomes for protected classes, the Act launched a period of expanded civil rights legislation and established a framework that allows expansion of coverage through judicial interpretation without requiring passage of new laws. Applications include prohibiting sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination and protection against color discrimination separately from race discrimination, which may be increasingly salient with increased immigration and with a multi-race population.

Distinguishing the Race-Specific Effects of Income Inequality and Mortality in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Source: Amani M. Nuru-Jeter, Chyvette T. Williams, Thomas A. LaVeist, International Journal of Health Services, Volume 44 Number 3, 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In the United States, the association between income inequality and mortality has been fairly consistent. However, few studies have explicitly examined the impact of race. Studies that have either stratified outcomes by race or conducted analyses within race-specific groups suggest that the income inequality/mortality relation may differ for blacks and whites. The factors explaining the association may also differ for the two groups. Multivariate ordinary least squares regression analysis was used to examine associations between study variables. We used three measures of income inequality to examine the association between income inequality and age-adjusted all-cause mortality among blacks and whites separately. We also examined the role of racial residential segregation and concentrated poverty in explaining associations among groups. Metropolitan areas were included if they had a population of at least 100,000 and were at least 10 percent black. There was a positive income inequality/mortality association among blacks and an inverse association among whites. Racial residential segregation completely attenuated the income inequality/mortality relationship for blacks, but was not significant among whites. Concentrated poverty was a significant predictor of mortality rates in both groups but did not confound associations. The implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.
Greater income inequality linked to more deaths for black Americans
Source: Sarah Yang, University of California, Berkeley, Press release, December 1, 2014

Greater income inequality is linked to more deaths among African Americans, but the effect is reversed among white Americans, who experienced fewer deaths, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Battle to Protect the Vote: Voter Suppression Efforts in Five States and Their Effect on the 2014 Midterm Elections

Source: Ben Jealous and Ryan P. Haygood, Center for American Progress, December 2014

From the summary:
….The question that every American should ask is: How can we collectively encourage more people to participate in the political process? Instead of embracing this important principle of inclusion, however, too many states have recently sought to make it harder for Americans to vote in the 2014 elections through concerted legislative efforts or policy decisions. Today, the United States is experiencing an assault on voting rights that is historic in its scope and in its intensity….

….This report focuses on the impact of voting restrictions in Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia, listed in order of the number of negatively affected voters, for the following reasons:
∙ Citizens of color in each of these states participated in the past two presidential elections in record numbers and comprised a larger share of the eligible voting population than ever before.
∙ The data provided by the 2010 Census demonstrate that communities of color in these states—and eligible voters within those populations—are expanding rapidly and are on track to continue this accelerated growth for the foreseeable future.
∙ Each state introduced at least one new restrictive voting law or voter suppression policy that applied in the 2014 elections and disproportionately affected people of color.
∙ Four of these five states—with the exception of North Carolina—experienced sharp decreases in voter turnout from the 2010 midterm elections, likely due, at least in part, to these laws making it harder to vote in 2014.

To combat these challenges, this report proposes that Americans who value and seek to safeguard the fundamental right to vote for all citizens take the following actions:
∙ Urge lawmakers to repeal the various laws that suppress the vote
∙ Urge Congress to immediately restore Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act by passing the Voting Rights Amendment Act
∙ Closely monitor and report voter suppression to the appropriate authorities and groups, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
∙ Engage in massive voter registration as a potential antidote to massive voter suppression….

Unions and civil rights groups find common ground on low-wage work

Source: Ned Resnikoff, Al Jazeera America, December 3, 2014

Analysis: Racial justice groups provide a boost to Walmart, fast-food campaigns.
How the labor and civil rights movements found solidarity
Source: Alia Malek, Al Jazeera America, December 3, 2014

A brief history of the often tense relationship between organized labor and the civil rights movement