Category Archives: Discrimination

The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation

Source: Ariane Hegewisch, Claudia Williams, Amber Henderson, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, IWPR #C350a, April 2011

The gender wage gap and occupational segregation – men primarily working in occupations done by other men, and women primarily working with other women – are persistent features of the US labor market. During 2010, median weekly earnings for female full-time workers were $669, compared with $824 per week for men, a gender wage ratio of 81.2 percent (Table 1; or a gender wage gap of 18.8 percent). Women’s median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women. Four of ten women (41.1 percent) work in traditionally female occupations, and close to five of ten male workers (49.3 percent) work in traditionally male occupations. Typically, male dominated occupations pay more than female dominated occupations at similar skill level. Tackling occupational segregation is an important part of tackling the gender wage gap.

Poor, Pregnant, and Fired: Caregiver Discrimination Against Low-Wage Workers

Source: Stephanie Bornstein, Center for WorkLife Law, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 2011

With limited financial resources, few social supports, and high family caregiving demands, low-wage workers go off to work every day to jobs that offer low pay, few days off, and little flexibility or schedule stability. It should come as no surprise, then, that workers’ family lives conflict with their jobs. What is surprising is the response at work when they do.

This report provides a survey of family responsibilities discrimination (FRD) lawsuits that low-wage workers brought against their employers when they were unfairly penalized at work because of their caregiving responsibilities at home. The report reflects a review of cases brought by low-wage hourly workers, drawn from the more than 2600 cases collected by the Center for WorkLife Law in its FRD case database to date. Fifty such cases are used to illustrate trends in caregiver discrimination lawsuits brought by low-wage workers.

Three key points emerge:
– Low-income families are caught between extreme demands at both home and work.
– Most low-wage workers go to extraordinary measures to meet both work and family responsibilities.
– Low-wage workers often face overwhelming family responsibilities with few social supports.

Research Brief: Black Workers and the Public Sector

Source: Steven Pitts, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, Research Brief, April 5, 2011

Since January 2009, state and local governments have laid off 429,000 public workers. As governments contemplate additional layoffs, it is important to note that few commentators have examined the racial implications of this reduction in government employment. This is an important question to address because often policy prescriptions that are race-neutral on the surface can have decidedly racial impacts. This research brief explores the issue by analyzing the nature of Black employment in the public sector.

The results of this study are striking:
• The public sector is the single most important source of employment for African Americans.
• During 2008-2010, 21.2 percent of all Black workers were public employees, compared with 16.3 percent of non-Black workers. Both before and after the onset of the Great Recession, African Americans were 30 percent more likely than other workers to be employed in the public sector.
• The public sector is also a critical source of decent-paying jobs for Black Americans. For both men and women, the median wage earned by Black employees is significantly higher in the public sector than in other industries.
• Prior to the recession, the wage differential between Black and white workers was less in the public sector than in the overall economy
Related:
Monthly Black Workers Report
The End of the Recession? How Blacks Might Fare in the Jobless Recovery

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

Source: Johanna Russ, Wayne State University, Walter P. Reuther Library blog, March 30th, 2011

“It is a crime to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the beginning of 1968, working conditions for sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, especially African Americans, were atrocious. Employees were given no benefits, no vacation pay, no pensions; forty percent qualified for welfare, and many worked second jobs. During bad weather, black workers were sent home without pay, while white workers collected a full day’s wages. The Memphis Sanitation Department refused to modernize the equipment used by black workers.

Ending Sex and Race Discrimination in the Workplace: Legal Interventions That Push the Envelope

Source: Ariane Hegewisch, Cynthia Deitch and Evelyn Murphy, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2011

Race and sex discrimination in employment, covering recruitment, pay and compensation, training and promotion, was made illegal by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Successful employment discrimination lawsuits may result in individual relief, such as monetary compensation for individual victims of discrimination and injunctive relief, such as changes to the employer’s human resource management policies and practices aimed at creating a workplace free of discrimination for all workers. Very few employment discrimination lawsuits, however, actually result in injunctive relief. Those that include injunctive relief most commonly are court-supervised pre-trial settlements called consent decrees.

This report draws on the IWPR/WAGE Consent Decree Database to analyze the injunctive relief awarded in 502 sex and/or race discrimination settlements that became effective between 2000 and 2008. We find that some consent decrees provide innovative and far-reaching remedies to counter previous sources of inequality, whereas others require little more than posting notices and conducting diversity awareness training. The Database includes a sample of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) consent decrees, and all publicly accessible U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and privately litigated class-action consent decrees. In addition, the report examines detailed case studies to show how injunctive relief was negotiated and implemented in particularly innovative consent decrees.

Unions Rights Affect Black Workers More Than Others

Source: Michel Martin, NPR, Tell Me More, March 10, 2011

After weeks of protests and wrangling, the Wisconsin State Senate passed a bill that strips public employees of collective bargaining rights. As a growing number of states consider similar measures, public sector workers face a daunting future. A recent study shows that African Americans are far more likely to work for the government than any other ethnic group. The public sector is also the leading employer of black men and the second leading employer of black women. Host Michel Martin discusses the implications of budget cuts for minority workers with Steven Pitts, a labor policy specialist with the University of California, Berkeley and a co-author of that study.
See also:
Labor Center Black Worker Project

African American History and Culture

Source: Center for the Study of the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011

To celebrate Black History Month in 2011, we launched this extensive new special section of our website devoted to material we’ve published over the last ten years on African American History and Culture. This section will remain available for scholars and students year-round, and it includes interviews with many famous figures (and lesser known ones, too), as well as material which explores many aspects of the experiences of African Americans inside and outside the South. To read these essays through Project Muse at no cost, you can follow the links below directly to the titles online. You also will find related material under our Civil Rights subject heading, as well as under our Famous Southerners and our Interviews and Oral Histories

State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom?

Source: Brian Miller, Wanjiku Mwangi, Jeannette Huezo, Mike Prokosch, Mazher Ali, United for a Fair Economy, January 14, 2011

From the summary:
…Closing this vast economic divide was a core objective of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his supporters in the final years of his life. But the agenda of the Congressional Republicans today and their Tea Party allies threatens to take the country in the opposite direction. Behind the Republican agenda is a sinister logic. First, they use tax cuts to starve the federal government. Then they point to the deficits that their tax cuts helped create and claim that we cannot afford the programs most Americans need.

The GOP austerity program will ratchet down the standard of living for all working Americans, and ratchet up the racial economic divide.

* While the unemployment rate for Blacks and Latinos remains at Depression levels, Republicans consistently block meaningful job creation proposals.
* With fewer assets to fall back on in hard times, Black and Latino families rely more heavily on unemployment insurance, Social Security and public assistance in times of need
* Blacks will be disproportionately affected by the attack on public sector workers.
* Republican tax breaks disproportionately flow into the hands of high-income and high-wealth Whites.
* The Republican tax cut agenda rewards wealth for those who already have it, and limits opportunity for those who do not.

Employment Discrimination Plaintiffs in Federal Court: From Bad to Worse?

Source: Kevin M. Clermont & Stewart J. Schwab, Harvard Law & Policy Review, Vol. 3 no 1, Winter 2009

This article uses data from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to convey the realities of federal employment discrimination litigation. Litigants in these “jobs” cases appeal more often than other litigants, with the defendants doing far better on appeal than the plaintiffs. These troublesome facts might help explain why today many fewer plaintiffs are undertaking the frustrating route into federal district court, where, relatively often, plaintiffs must pursue their claims all the way through trial, and where, at both pretrial and trial, these plaintiffs lose more often than other federal plaintiffs.