Deemed a “priority hire” for FDNY under a federal court order, “probationary firefighter Choeurlyne Doirin-Holder injured herself Monday while conducting a routine check of equipment at Queens’ Engine 308 in South Richmond Hill.” She had been on the job for ten days following a bumpy ascent that had included a failed pass at the academy, a previous injury, and the bending of physical test requirements. “Since she was injured on duty, she is eligible for a disability pension that would pay three-quarters of her annual salary, tax-free, if deemed unfit to return.” [New York Post; similarly two years ago] I wrote more on the watering down of firefighter physical tests to avoid screening out female applicants in my book The Excuse Factory, as briefly summarized in this 2007 post.
Puff, puff, gasp, wheeze…. ah, better just let the perp go. “A U.S. district court ruled the twelve [female] officers who are all at least 40 years old must be reinstated until a final ruling, although they failed the physical fitness test, reported Colorado Springs outlet KRDO.” [Casey Harper, Daily Caller]
- “Requiring Employees to Return 100% Healed Costs Trucking Firm $300K in EEOC Suit” [Thompson’s HR Compliance Expert]
- Update: Oregon appeals court upholds $400,000
finejudgment against Portland owner who asked transgender club to stop holding meetings at his nightclub [Oregonian, earlier]
- Fire Department of New York commissioner: yes, we lowered fitness bar so more women could join the force [Matthew Hennessey/City Journal, my take in The Excuse Factory back when]
- From May: “Oversight of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Examining EEOC’s Enforcement and Litigation Programs” [Senate HELP committee via Workplace Prof]
- Lengthy HUD battle: 2nd Circuit notes “no finding, at any point, that Westchester actually engaged in housing discrimination” [WSJ editorial, earlier here and here]
- In 1992 Delaware settled an employment discrimination lawsuit by agreeing to assign prison guards “without regard to the gender of prisoners….A disaster ensued.” [Scott Greenfield on Cris Barrish, Wilmington News-Journal coverage]
- NYC council speaker pushing “very bad bill to extend special employment protections to caregivers” [N.Y. Daily News editorial]
Contrived, artificial new “equal pay for similar work” law could hit California’s most contrived and artificial industry, the movies, which tends to bid up bankable male stars to higher compensation levels than it does their bankable female counterparts [L.A. Times]
- “May employer fire employees for defending themselves (or others) against violent customers?” Dissenting Judge Lee has better view in Utah case [Eugene Volokh]
- “You have to ignore many variables to think women are paid less than men. California is happy to try.” [Sarah Ketterer, WSJ]
- U.S. Department of Labor has agreements with eleven countries to teach immigrant workers about U.S. labor laws “prior to and after their arrival” [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner]
- “Why is Harrisburg paying a police officer who hasn’t shown up for work in 25 years?” [PennLive] Cf. Former Nashville cop says he “didn’t really want to” go on disability pension 27 years ago, “but it was either that or get fired” [Nashville City Paper back in 2010]
- “A White House forum for your whiny employees? Yup, this is a real thing, and you should pay attention.” [Jon Hyman]
- Minneapolis charity canvassers: “The Wobblies just won a big independent contractor case at the NLRB” [Politico “Morning Shift”, Jon Hyman]
- On widely reported decline in labor share of U.S. income, mind this little-reported asterisk [David Henderson, Timothy Taylor]
The great thing about discrimination-in-public-accommodations law is all the social harmony: barber near Pittsburgh fined $750 by state of Pennsylvania for declining to cut women’s hair [Scott Shackford, Reason]
We’ve often covered the outrageous results of California’s Unruh Act, a lawyer-enriching, endlessly abusable enactment that awards damages without actual injury, generates surprising new grounds for litigation, and tilts the playing field of litigation toward plaintiffs with one-way fee shift entitlements and other goodies. Now, whether or not with dollar signs twinkling in their eyes, some busybodies have invoked it to go after a women-in-tech conference over alleged sex discrimination, and a whole new generation of commentators have discovered that in areas like the Unruh Act, “the legal system allows meritless claims to extort compliance” and that the “threat of a lawsuit is usually enough to shut a company down, even if the company stands a good chance of winning in court, simply for one reason: it costs less to settle than it does to fight in court.” Ken at Popehat does not offer a warm outpouring of sympathy:
Here’s the thing: if you only wake up to how broken the system is when it’s abused by one of your ideological enemies, you’re a vapid partisan hack. The legal system — including, but not “only” or “especially” civil rights laws — is a tool of extortion, deceit, and thuggery. I’ve seen nothing in my 21 years as a lawyer to make me think that civil rights plaintiffs are any more likely than other plaintiffs to abuse the system. But some laws lend themselves to abuse — like laws that are deliberately broad, deliberately flexible, and that award attorney fees only to prevailing plaintiffs, removing all deterrents against frivolous suits and piling on incentives to cave to extortion. The result is a system that’s profitable for lawyers, mediocre for individual plaintiffs, and a constant burden on potential defendants in a way that utterly fails to distinguish between wrongdoers and the innocent.
If you’re only irritated by this when a group of Wrong People target a group of Right People, you’re not to be taken seriously.
Sam Brunson, a Loyola (Chicago) professor specializing in tax law, searched IRS private letter rulings and sums up the results at the Mormon website By Common Consent (via Paul Caron/TaxProf, who assembles other links). For some academics’ views on whether the Bob Jones U. precedent (exemption denied to educational institution on grounds of race discrimination) will or should be pushed further into other areas, see Inside Higher Education and Caroline Corbin, SSRN (sex discrimination).
More on the Bob Jones U. case: Regulation magazine, Jan./Feb. 1982, more via Steven Hayward. More on the parsonage (housing) allowance, one bit of the tax code that does favor religious entities over otherwise comparable nonprofits: Ronald Hiner and Darlene Pulliam Smith/Journal of Accountancy, Erwin Chemerinsky/Duke (anti), Jonathan Whitehead and Becket Fund (pro). Journalists stirring the pot recently: Felix Salmon, Fusion; Mark Oppenheimer, Time.
Get me rewrite! The New York Times’s initial story on the departure of interim chief executive Ellen Pao from social media community Reddit lacked egregious bias, so the paper went back to insert some. (More: Twitchy, citing my Twitter contribution.) Amid widespread mockery of the second version’s opinionated tone, the paper then published yet a third version pulling back from some of its friskier social justice pronouncements. Pao, as readers may recall, was the plaintiff in an earlier Silicon Valley suit over alleged gender discrimination and retaliation, a suit that failed before a jury but drew much favorable coverage along the way in the NYT and elsewhere.
Laws prescribing maternal and child care leave and benefits often backfire on their intended beneficiaries, reducing employer willingness to hire workers expected to take the benefits. That’s not exactly news to those familiar with the economic way of thinking; what’s noteworthy is that it’s something being reported in the New York Times, which cites a law in Spain that entitles parents to ask for reduced hours and has led to a reduced willingness to employ mothers, and a child-care mandate in Chile that has been followed by a decline in starting wages for women, as well as much noncompliance. “A broader analysis of 22 countries found that women were more likely to work when these types of policies are in place, but their jobs more likely to be ‘dead-end’ positions and less likely to be managerial posts.” America’s own Family and Medical Leave Act, often thought to be less burdensome because leave is unpaid, has not been exempt from the logic: “Women are slightly more likely to stay employed, but receive fewer promotions because of the law, according to research cited by the New York Times.” The Times says the “three American states — California, New Jersey and Rhode Island — that offer paid family leave finance it through employee payroll taxes,” which tends to make it a little more explicit that the cost of the benefits is coming largely out of compensation packages. [Nicole Kaeding, Cato; Claire Cain Miller, “The Upshot,” New York Times]