Search Results for ‘ledbetter’

Lilly Ledbetter back in news

Mitt Romney, following a long tradition of GOP candidates unable or unwilling to resist the continued expansion of employment discrimination law, has pre-emptively blessed Congress’s 2009 enactment of the ill-advised Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act gutting statutes of limitation. Hans Bader offers reasons why he should consider drawing the line. [Examiner] More: Ted Frank.

Related: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs bill repealing duplicative damages law passed by his Democratic predecessors, thus contradicting the accepted narrative in which the scope of available damages in job-bias suits is supposed to be revisable only in an upward direction.

FDA backs down on wood aging of cheese

Yes! Following an enormous outcry from cheese makers, commentators, and the general public, the agency beats a hasty retreat. Commentator/ Pepperdine lawprof Greg McNeil has the details at Forbes (and his earlier commentary on the legalities of the agency’s action is also informative). Earlier here.

In a classic bureaucratic move, the agency denied it had actually issued a new policy (technically true, if you accept the premise that a policy letter from its chief person in charge of cheese regulation is not the same as a formally adopted new policy) and left itself the discretion to adopt such a policy in future if it wishes (merely declaring itself open to persuasion that wood shelving might prove compatible with the FSMA).

McNeal:

This is also a lesson for people in other regulated industries. When government officials make pronouncements that don’t seem grounded in law or policy, and threaten your livelihood with an enforcement action, you must organize and fight back. While specialized industries may think that nobody cares, the fight over aged cheese proves that people’s voices can be heard…

There is a less optimistic version, however. It happens that a large number of editors, commentators, and others among the chattering classes are both personally interested in the availability of fine cheese and familiar enough with the process by which it is made to be un-cowed by claims of superior agency expertise. That might also be true of a few other issues here and there — cottage food sold at farmer’s markets, artisanal brewing practices — but it’s inevitably not going to be true of hundreds of other issues that arise under the new Food Safety Modernization Act. In a similar way, the outcry against CPSIA, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, rose to a politically effective level only on a selected few issues (publishers and libraries got a fix so that older children’s books would not have to be trashed; youth motorsports eventually obtained an exemption, and so forth) but large numbers of smaller children’s products and specialties whose makers had less of a political voice simply disappeared.

More: Andrew Coulson, Cato, and on the trade aspects, K. William Watson; Chuck Ross, Daily Caller (quoting me at length for which thanks). On the FDA’s new statement: “Typical bureaucratic doublespeak that seems meant to maximize uncertainty for the regulated community” [Eric Bott of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce] “This was the worst possible outcome. It reinforces elites’ view that regulators are reasonable and wise and will fix mistakes.” [@random_eddie] “Pay no attention to the Leviathan behind the cheesecloth” [Scott Lincicome, in an exchange after a writer at Slate observed that “Libertarians aren’t the only ones” who might want to keep board-aged cheese legal] (Vox, Reason, Carly Ledbetter/HuffPo; & welcome Instapundit, Alexander Cohen/Atlas Society, Q and O readers)

Discrimination law roundup

  • Mayor de Blasio settles firefighter bias suit on terms sympathetic to plaintiffs [City Journal: Dennis Saffran and Seth Barron]
  • One way to dodge some Culture War fights: roll meaning of “public accommodation” back to travel, lodgings, places of public amusement, etc. [Andrew Kloster, Heritage] As original/creative expression goes, florists and cake-bakers sometimes outdo NYT’s Greenhouse [Ann Althouse] From Dixie Chicks to Hobby Lobby, few escape hypocrisy when commerce collides with convictions [Barton Hinkle]
  • Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigating Florida’s popular Bright Futures college scholarship program [Orlando Sentinel]
  • Do EEOC mediators overstate risk of legal action to extract big settlements from employers? [Bloomberg BNA, Merrily Archer on survey] New Colorado expansion of employment liability bad news for large and small employers alike [Archer]
  • “Religious exemptions — a guide for the confused” [Eugene Volokh]
  • Washington Post columnist repeats myth that Lilly Ledbetter “did not know she was being paid less than male counterparts” until after statute of limitations had run; Hans Bader corrects [letter to editor]
  • If helping out local people was one reason your town decided to back public housing, you might have been played for suckers [AP on DoJ suit against Long Island town over local preference]

Richard Epstein: “The Myth of a Pro-Business SCOTUS”

Left-leaning lawprofs like Erwin Chemerinsky and Arthur Miller regularly flog the idea that decisions they disagree with — such as Twombly and Iqbal on pleading, AT&T v. Concepcion and AmEx v. Italian Colors on arbitration, and Vance v. Ball State and Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire on workplace liability — show the Supreme Court to be biased in favor of business defendants. Richard Epstein rebuts.

Vance v. Ball State: the press miscoverage begins

There’s an awful lot of — well, confusion is one way to put it — in the early commentary on yesterday’s Supreme Court case Vance v. Ball State, on the scope of supervisorial liability in harassment cases. Here’s Jeffrey Toobin writing in The New Yorker:

As in Ledbetter, it was a vote of five-to-four, with the Republican appointees in the majority and the Democratic appointees in dissent. In Vance v. Ball State University, the Court narrowed the definition of “supervisor.” This is important because plaintiffs can win in Title VII cases only if they suffer discrimination from a supervisor, not from a peer in the workforce.

If “discrimination” is read to include “harassment,” as the law does in fact read it, this is simply untrue. Here is the second sentence of the syllabus of Vance (which is word-for-word identical with the third sentence of Justice Alito’s majority opinion):

If the harassing employee is the victim’s co-worker, the employer is liable only if it was negligent in controlling working conditions.

And here is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on page 4 of her dissent stating the same standard, unchanged by the opinion:

if the harassing employee is a co-worker, a negligence standard applies. To satisfy that standard, the complainant must show that the employer knew or should have known of the offensive conduct but failed to take appropriate corrective action.

There are many miles of difference between “you can’t win,” which is how Toobin chooses to summarize the current right to seek damages for co-worker misconduct, and “you can win but you need to show employer negligence,” the more accurate way to summarize it.

Nor is Toobin the only one to make this mistake. An error-strewn U.K. Guardian opinion story reacting to the case asserts (to quote its subheadline) that “the US supreme court has ruled that job harassment only counts if it’s from a ‘supervisor’.” That’s flatly untrue, for the reasons above. Author Jason Farago also swallows whole the sharply disputed contentions of misconduct leveled by the plaintiff in the Ball State case, although no level of the court system appears to have done so; a trial court found Vance’s treatment “neither sufficiently severe nor pervasive to be considered objectively hostile for the purposes of Title VII” and neither the Seventh Circuit nor the Supreme Court elected to reach that issue. Indeed, Justice Ruth Ginsburg in her dissent chooses to illustrate the feared impact of the new rule by reciting details of other cases that could be affected, as opposed to Vance’s.

Admittedly, it’s not easy to stay on top of the details of a law as complex as Title VII, and we all make honest mistakes. But when given the choice between risking dullness by accurately describing the actual state of the law, and embellishing a tale of conservative insensitivity so as to inflame their left-leaning readers, Toobin and Farago appear to have a head start on that old bit of advice, “print the legend.”

October 26 roundup

  • Remembering George McGovern: “The endless exposure to frivolous claims and high legal fees is frightening” [Bob Dorigo Jones]
  • “One student was told she couldn’t cast a vote for homecoming queen unless she submitted to the tracking regime.” [CNet via Doctorow, BoingBoing]
  • Couple says law firm sued them following crash of RV they’d sold months earlier [Chamber-backed Southeast Texas Record]
  • L.A. city council moves to ban pet stores [L.A. Times via Amy Alkon]
  • “Willie Gary’s law firm ordered to pay $12.5 m to lender” [Nate Raymond, Reuters] Touring the tasteful promotional materials of longtime Overlawyered favorite Gary [Above the Law]
  • Further debunkings of Lilly Ledbetter narrative [Victoria Toensing, Adler, more, earlier] And fact-checking PolitiFact could turn into a full-time job; Hans Bader is still on the case [CEI]
  • Fifth Circuit panel backs Louisiana monks’ right to produce handcrafted caskets [NOLA.com, Ilya Shapiro/Cato, earlier]

Town Hall presidential debate

While I’d rate the debate stylistically as a draw (this time Obama actually studied for the test) I’ve a feeling Romney may have made further voter inroads by continuing to emphasize his Massachusetts-moderate side. “Obama just talks the game on ‘assault weapons,’ but I actually got a bill passed” must be the unlikeliest Republican applause line of the evening. And was Romney really bidding to get to the left of Obama on education spending and government-guaranteed contraceptives, to name but two?

Highlights of my Tweets as part of the Cato debate-Tweet team, as usual in reverse chronological order:

Politics roundup

  • “Someone tell Gov O’Malley that Swiss bank UBS is helping build a Maryland bridge.” [background; State of Maryland, PDF, via Dan Alban] Dems’ trade xenophobia escapes ire aimed at GOP’s purported immigration xenophobia [Barro] “Buried in the 2012 Democratic platform: Official declaration of war on Switzerland.” [@daveweigel]
  • Are you better off than you were four years ago? Kyle Graham traces that question back to 1900, and no doubt it’s older [ConcurOp]
  • Fact-checkers snooze during Dems’ Lilly Ledbetter show [Ted Frank/PoL, Hans Bader/Examiner] Read in full context, Obama’s “you didn’t build that” remarks “would inspire largely the same reaction.” [Larimore, Slate]
  • Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is least surprising Dem endorser of the year, as Overlawyered readers have reason to know [Betsy Woodruff, NRO, on Morgan & Morgan connection]
  • Great Society legacy: tax-funded nonprofits play key role in NYC corruption [Steven Malanga, WSJ]
  • “Details of the Auto Bailout You Won’t Hear in Charlotte” [Dan Ikenson, Randal O’Toole, Cato; Tim Carney, Washington Examiner (“Here’s the truth: what Romney proposed for Detroit was more or less what Obama did”); Shikha Dalmia on Gov. Jennifer Granholm]
  • HHS welfare waivers: fact-checkers, check thyselves [Kaus, more, Steve Chapman]