Category Archives: Discrimination

A Review of MCAD Public Hearings: Suggestions for Practice

Source: Michael Carlozzi, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, OnlineFirst, June 29 2019
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From the abstract:
Public hearing decisions from the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) offer public administrators, private employers, and researchers actionable information. This article analyzes the outcomes of these decisions over a 16-year period (2002–2018). Key findings are that private-sector employers were significantly more likely to lose at hearings than public-sector employers and that this gap appeared to result largely from differences in organizational size and gender-based claims. Smaller companies, in particular, lost at hearings significantly more than larger organizations in both sectors. Additional findings are that employers who participated in an interactive process were significantly more likely to prevail in reasonable accommodation disability cases and that appeals were rarely overturned by the MCAD’s Full Commission. Implications for administrators and human resource managers are discussed.

INSIGHT: ‘You Look Mahvelous!’ Avoiding Appearance-Based Discrimination at Work

Source: Linda B. Dwoskin, Melissa Bergman Squire, Bloomberg Law, June 28, 2019

Employers that allow gender-based stereotypes to affect employment decisions or, in some jurisdictions, impose gender-based grooming codes risk violating anti-discrimination laws. Dechert attorneys discuss appearance-based discrimination framed as race or sex discrimination and provides practical advice for employers to avoid liability.

Race and Authoritarianism in American Politics

Source: Christopher Sebastian Parker, Christopher C. Towler, Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 22, 2019
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From the abstract:
Authoritarianism, it seems, is alive and well these days. The Trump administration’s blatant dismissal of democratic norms has many wondering whether it fits the authoritarian model. This review offers a framework for understanding authoritarianism in the American past, as well as the American present. Starting in the early twentieth century, this analysis seeks to provide a better understanding of how authoritarianism once existed in enclaves in the Jim Crow South, where it was intended to dominate blacks in the wake of emancipation. Confining the definition of authoritarianism to regime rule, however, leaves little room for a discussion of more contemporary authoritarianism, at the micro level. This review shifts focus to an assessment of political psychology’s concept of authoritarianism and how it ultimately drives racism. Ultimately, we believe a tangible connection exists between racism and authoritarianism. Even so, we question the mechanism. Along the way, we also discuss the ways in which communities of color, often the targets of authoritarianism, resist the intolerance to which they have been exposed. We conclude with a discussion of why we believe, despite temporal and spatial differences as well as incongruous levels of analysis, that micro- and macro-level authoritarianism have much in common.

More Single Mothers Means More Need For Protection

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 13, June 26, 2019
(subscription required)

You have several open customer service positions and receive a recommendation for a candidate through your employee referral program. When describing the potential candidate’s work experience, the referring employee also mentions the individual is a single mother. Afterwards, a member of the hiring team says he doesn’t want to bother interviewing the potential candidate because “single mothers are always a problem.”

Attitudes like this can put your organization at risk. Depending on the jurisdiction, single parents may be protected by statutes prohibiting discrimination based on marital status, parental status or caregiving responsibilities. Sex-based discrimination protections may also come into play….

Why do employers keep providing the same ineffective sexual harassment training?

Source: Rebecca Grant, Quartz, June 19, 2019

….Training isn’t the only place most sexual harassment programs fall short. Lilia Cortina, a professor of psychology, women’s studies, & management at the University of Michigan, has found that many organizations flounder in how they handle complaints. Cortina’s research reveals that companies’ formal grievance systems fail for four reasons: they are rarely used; people who file complaints regularly face retaliation; retaliation has negative long-term career and health consequences; and formal complaints rarely lead to the removal of the harasser. Filing a complaint can do more harm than good, if it does anything at all.

Given that current efforts to address workplace sexual harassment are clearly not working, what does an effective program look like? Cortina said the starting point has to be a commitment from leadership to meaningful cultural change, rather than checking a box or looking for a quick fix….

…..When harassment is identified, it’s important that discipline is consistent and does not give the appearance of undue favor. For example, the EEOC found that companies that successfully created a culture of non-harassment “acknowledged and owned” complaints, instead of attempting to bury them, and were willing to hold high-ranking and highly-valued employees accountable. In addition, studies show that harassment thrives in workplaces where there’s a stark power imbalance between men and women, so hiring and promoting more women, and compensating them equitably, can undermine the root causes.

There may always be people who abuse their power and act badly in opportunistic situations, but that doesn’t mean organizations are powerless to stop them…..

The Problem With HR

Source: Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic, July 2019

For 30 years, we’ve trusted human-resources departments to prevent and address workplace sexual harassment. How’s that working out?

…The experience left me with a question: If HR is such a vital component of American business, its tentacles reaching deeply into many spheres of employees’ work lives, how did it miss the kind of sexual harassment at the center of the #MeToo movement? And given that it did, why are companies still putting so much faith in HR? I returned to these questions many times over the course of the following year, interviewing workplace experts, lawyers, management consultants, and workers in the field.

Finally, I realized I had it all wrong. The simple and unpalatable truth is that HR isn’t bad at dealing with sexual harassment. HR is actually very good at it…..

…..But the real reason many workers don’t love human resources is that while the department often presents itself as functioning like a union—the open door for worker complaints, the updates on valuable new benefits—it is not a union. In a strong job market, HR is the soul of generosity, making employees feel valued and significant. But should the economy change, or should management decide to go in another direction, HR can just as quickly become assassin as friend…..

….If employers judged HR departments by their ability to prevent sexual harassment, most would have gotten a failing grade long ago. What HR is actually responsible for—one of the central ways the department “adds value” to a company—is serving as the first line of defense against a sexual-harassment lawsuit. These two goals are clearly aligned, but if the past year has taught us anything, it’s that you can achieve the latter without doing much of anything at all about the former…..

How LGBTQ Union Activists Transformed the Labor Movement

Source: Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, No Class, June 7, 2019

….In 28 U.S. states, queer and trans workers can still be fired due to their sexual orientation and gender identity, and a strong union contract is often the only legally binding workplace protection available to LGBTQIA workers to fight employment discrimination. This is especially important because of the high unemployment rates for transgender and non-binary people — 16% overall — which can be compounded by other factors like racial discrimination, age discrimination, or national origin discrimination…..

‘We Want Both!’: pressuring Philadelphia unions for inclusion and equity during the long 1970s

Source: Alyssa Ribeiro, Labor History, Latest Articles, June 2, 2019
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From the abstract:
This article examines local labor insurgency in Philadelphia between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s. Drawing on alternative press sources, it traces the efforts of Black, Puerto Rican, and female workers to reshape their unions as stable employment opportunities declined. Across industries and job sites, workers pressured both their unions and their employers through public criticism, running slates of candidates in union elections, and taking part in picketing and wildcat strikes. Existing scholarship has privileged rank-and-file activism among White men focused on wages and working conditions. Enlarging our view to include a more representative workforce at the local level while following workers’ resistance forward through time recharacterizes the rank-and-file rebellion to include defiant, multiracial coalitions demanding progressive reform. That broader rebellion, in turn, challenges some long-held assumptions about US labor during the 1970s.