Category Archives: Discrimination

Family Responsibilities Discrimination: The EEOC Guidance

Source: C. W. VonBergen, William T. Mawer, and Robert Howard
Employee Relations Law Journal
Vol. 34, no. 1, Summer 2008

Family responsibilities discrimination, involving bias against workers based on their responsibilities to care for family members, is one of the newest 21st century workplace concerns. In response to this issue, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently published guidelines that document circumstances in which stereotypes or disparate treatment of employees with family responsibility may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. This article explains these guidelines and what companies can do to avoid potential legal problems and accompanying liabilities with respect to family caregiving responsibilities.

Same Sex Marriage, Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Quick facts on key states:
• Issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples: Massachusetts, California
• Recognizes same-sex marriages from other states: Rhode Island
• Allows civil unions, providing state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples: Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire
• Statewide law provides nearly all state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples (Domestic Partnerships): California, Oregon
• Statewide law provides some state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples (Domestic Partnerships): Hawaii, Maine, District of Columbia, Washington

Full report

A Major Setback for Pay Equality: The Supreme Court’s Decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

Source: Norma M. Riccucci, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 28, no. 1, March 2008
(subscription required)

Pay inequities based on gender continue to pervade the public and private sector landscapes. Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 proscribe unequal pay for equal work, the newly formed U.S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (2007) that ignores Court precedents as well as provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, making it more difficult for employees to file suit for pay inequities. Ultimately, the problem of pay disparities in the workplace can only worsen.
See also:
S. 1843 Fair Pay Restoration Act

Do Subprime Loans Create Subprime Cities? Surging Inequality and the Rise In Predatory Lending

Source: Gregory D. Squires, Economic Policy Institute, Briefing Paper no. 197, February 28, 2008

From the press release:
The development of a two-tiered system of financial services, driven by the rising economic inequality in the United States, is ushering in a new era of de facto redlining, according to a new paper from the Economic Policy Institute, “Do Subprime Loans Create Subprime Cities? Surging Inequality and the Rise in Predatory Lending.”

In the paper, published by EPI as part of its Agenda for Shared Prosperity, author, Gregory D. Squires, a George Washington University sociologist, contends that increasing economic inequality and diminishing access to conventional financial services have become inextricably linked.

Returning Reserve Troops Are Still Being Denied Their Old Jobs, Witnesses tell House Labor Subcommittee

Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and Labor, Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, Press release, February 12, 2008

An increasing number of military service members and U.S. contractors working abroad are being discriminated against on the job and are left with little ability to hold their employers accountable for it, witnesses told the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions today.
“If a worker is wronged while on the job, then that employee should have every opportunity to be made whole under the law,” said Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ), chairman of the subcommittee. “Unfortunately, there are too many loopholes in the law today and we have the responsibility to not allow any instance of discrimination to go unchecked.”

Reserve troops returning home from active duty in places like Iraq and Afghanistan are finding it difficult to get their jobs back, government statistics show. According to a U.S. Defense Department report, more than 33,000 reserve service members from 2001 to 2005 have complained to the agency that their employers failed to give them their jobs back – as required by law – or received a reduction in pay and benefits.

Witness testimonies from hearing

Beyond Discrimination: Understanding African American Inequality in the Twenty-First Century

Source: Michael B. Katz and Mark J. Stern, Dissent, Winter, 2008

In November 2007, two reports by distinguished research centers turned African American inequality into national news. Their startling and discomfiting data highlighted both the fragility of African American success and the widening fault lines that divide African Americans from each other. Impressive and authoritative as the reports are, they nonetheless remain incomplete because they do not explain how and why African American inequality has changed during the last several decades or the place of gender and publicly supported work in the new black inequality. … Public and state-related employment, thus, have proved the most powerful vehicles for African American economic mobility and the most effective antipoverty legacy of the Great Society. This dependence on publicly funded work also left African Americans vulnerable. Reductions in public employment and spending strike them with special ferocity and undermine their often fragile achievements.

Foreclosed: State of the Dream 2008

Source: Amaad Rivera, Brenda Cotto-Escalera, Anisha Desai, Jeannette Huezo, and Dedrick Muhammad, United for a Fair Economy, January 15, 2008

This report finds that due to racial bias, people of color are being hit especially hard by the current subprime lending crisis. As homes are foreclosed and families of color find themselves in financial ruin, the racial and economic equality that Martin Luther King, Jr. once envisioned is moving even further out of reach. We found the estimated total loss of wealth for people of color to be between $164 billion and $213 billion for subprime loans taken during the past eight years. This breaks down to losses of between $71 billion and $92 billion for Black/African-American borrowers, and between $75 billion and $98 billion for Latino borrowers for the same period.

The Rise of Transgender-Inclusive Laws: How Well Are Municipalities Implementing Supportive Nondiscrimination Public Employment Policies?

Source: Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 27, No. 4
By Roddrick A. Colvin

Whereas efforts that prohibit employment discrimination based on factors such as race or sexual orientation require certain organizational changes, creating a transgender-inclusive workplace requires organizational changes that include personnel, policy, legal, and medical issues unique to transgender people. At present, it is not clear whether communities are actually implementing these organizational changes, even after adopting transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination laws. This research project surveyed 74 municipalities with transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination employments laws, in order to assess and better understand the state of transgender-inclusive public workplaces. The initial results of the survey suggest that although innovation continues to increase, implementation and enforcement remain low, affecting managers’ and employees’ abilities to operate in a transgender-inclusive environment. Recommendations are made to improve implementation and enforcement of transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.

Workers’ Rites: What happens when an employee’s freedom of religion crosses paths with a company’s interests?

Source: Vadim Liberman, Conference Board Review Magazine, September/October 2007

From the press release:
What happens when an employee’s freedom of religion crosses paths with a company’s interests? A recent article in The Conference Board Review looks to answer this question. In “Workers’ Rites,” TCB Review explores how expression of religion in the workplace often challenges businesses to find appropriate solutions to employees’ requests.

“Obviously, you can’t fire someone just because her faith differs from yours,” writes associate editor Vadim Liberman. “But what happens when you face situations that aren’t so black and white-when the beliefs and practices of customers and co-workers come into play, not to mention the intricacies of employment law?” As religion increasingly collides with corporate policies and practices, companies are asking what is and isn’t permissible behavior — for workers and for themselves.

Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 2,541 claims of religious discrimination in the workplace — almost 50 percent more than a decade ago. And according to the New York-based Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, 66 percent of employees report “evidence of religious bias at work.”

Foreclosure Exposure: a study of racial and income disparities in home mortgage lending in 172 American cities

Source: ACORN, September 5, 2007

Over the last two years, Americans have increasingly recognized the harm done to homeowners (both families who refinance their homes and new buyers) and neighborhoods by the sharp increase of the issuance of subprime loans. Perhaps most damaging among subprime loan products are Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs), exploding ARMs, no-document loans and other products that do not require lenders to take into account the loan’s long-term affordability for the borrower. ACORN’s report on the 2005 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data, “The Impending Rate Shock,” demonstrated that unaffordable loans disproportionately impact minority and low- and moderate- income families and neighborhoods. Now these high-cost loans – many of which are exploding ARMs – have led to the foreclosure crisis that we hear about daily.

See also:
National Tables 2007 HMDA Report
2007 Subprime Study National Map
Metro area data by state (scroll down)

Related articles:

Home Insecurity: A set of reports on neighborhoods in trouble due to foreclosures


Of the wretched and the reckless

Source: The Economist, Vol. 384 no. 8545, September 6, 2007