Posts Tagged ‘sex discrimination’

New data mandate will feed pay-gap myths

Cato’s Daily Podcast features Thaya Brook Knight discussing the proposal outlined in this space the other day:

President Obama wants to compel many companies to begin reporting salary information to the federal government. Thaya Brook Knight comments.

Correction: The proposal would not require companies to provide the information as part of their own tax filings, but would require them to use the information from employees’ Forms W-2 to compile the required disclosure, which would be made to the EEOC.

Earlier on the pay-gap mythos here (Hanna Rosin, Slate: “You Know That ‘Women Make 77 Cents to Every Man’s Dollar’ Line? It’s Not True.”) as well as past links to articles such as this, this, and this.

EEOC pay reporting: the better to sue you with, my dear

“Under a new rule proposed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, all companies with more than 100 employees would be required to submit summary pay data each year. Since 1966, large companies have reported to the EEOC the number of their employees by sex, race, ethnicity and job group. The new proposal would add to that list pay data in 12 salary ranges, [with individual salaries] grouped together to protect privacy.” [USA Today, EEOC press release] “The data will be used to identify employers that may be engaging in pay discrimination so that the agency can target its enforcement resources where problems may be likeliest to exist. The proposal would cover more than 63 million U.S. workers, according to the White House. The plan… won’t require legislative approval.” [WSJ]

Aside from driving a high volume of litigation by the EEOC itself, the scheme will also greatly benefit private lawyers who sue employers, including class action lawyers. An employer might then weather the resulting litigation siege by showing that its numbers were good enough, or not. Would today’s Labor Department and EEOC policies look much different if the Obama administration frankly acknowledged that it was devising them with an eye toward maximum liability and payouts?

“Firefighter who flunked physical injured 10 days into job”

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.

Discrimination law roundup

  • “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 fine judgment 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]

Labor and employment roundup

  • “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]

California’s Unruh Act “provokes outrage”; it’s “invoked by the wrong people”

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.