Posts Tagged ‘sex discrimination’

“Why Some Male Members of Congress Won’t Be Alone with Female Staffers”

Fearful of allegations of harassment or other impropriety, some male bosses on Capitol Hill have a policy against taking 1-on-1 closed-door meetings with female staffers, which of course itself probably makes it harder for women to advance and may be illegal. [Sarah Mimms, National Journal] Possibly there is legal safety to be had in not taking one-on-one meetings — or evening events, or travel — with staffers of any gender. Or, like up-to-date cops, maybe they could wear body cameras.

Note also: this 2013 Overlawyered post about a lawsuit charging that an “anti-fraternization” policy at a Texas law firm impeded mentorships and advancement for women, and this 2000 post (scroll to Nov. 1) quoting a New Jersey lawyer: “I have not seen a female client unescorted after-hours since this incident and probably never will again.”

P.S. Catherine Rampell at the Washington Post takes as usual a line at variance with the one presented here (via Amy Alkon: “Feminism Built That!” with reader comments) Note how Rampell presents absurd (A) and (B) rationales for the no-closed-door practice without for a moment considering a third rationale, namely (C) the possibility that different interpretations or understandings of the same words or events will generate career-ending disputes and allegations. Because that never happens, right?

Jury rules against Ellen Pao; fees fail to shift

A San Francisco jury has found no improper gender discrimination or retaliation by Kleiner Perkins and returned a defense verdict in Ellen Pao’s high-profile lawsuit [Mashable, Roger Parloff/Fortune (noting judge’s evidentiary rulings favorable to Pao)] Pao’s “lawyers also missed out on a payday that could have reached into the millions of dollars.” In particular, “had Pao won on any of her claims, under California law her legal team, led by longtime San Francisco employment lawyers Alan Exelrod and Therese Lawless, could have sought all its fees from Kleiner.” [Reuters] One-way fee-shifting rules like those in discrimination law, especially with the further “win on any claim, collect all legal fees including those spent pursuing losing claims” refinement, diverge sharply from the principles of two-way loser pays followed in other advanced nations, but have the result (and the intent) of strongly incentivizing speculative litigation. The only real way to go further would be to order defendants to pay both sides’ fees even when the defendants win outright, as Kleiner did; but as of yet even California law does not go that far.

P.S. Apparently even a lost case counts as valuable promotion for the California plaintiff’s employment bar [Margaret Cronin Fisk, Bloomberg, auto-plays]

Serial complainants at the Department of Education

“Complaints of discrimination to the [Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights] have soared from 6,364 in fiscal 2009 to a record of 9,989 in the most recent fiscal year.” [Lyndsey Layton, Washington Post] Most notable sentence concerning that surging caseload: “Two individuals were responsible for filing more than 1,700 of those allegations of [education] sex discrimination.”

Related: how OCR acquires and uses financial leverage over academia [Hans Bader, CEI via Amy Alkon (“a bigger threat to innocent students is the massive financial risk colleges face if they do not swiftly expel accused students … Moreover, even when no court would award damages, OCR will. It has recently given itself the power to award monetary damages against colleges, even in situations where the Supreme Court’s Davis decision says damages would be inappropriate under the Constitution’s spending clause.”)]

Labor and employment roundup

  • Loosen constraints on local and state deviation from the NLRA labor law model? Idea gathering force on right also draws some interest from left [Ben Sachs, On Labor, on James Sherk/Andrew Kloster proposal for right to work laws at city/county level]
  • Justice Alito dissents from Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in Kalamazoo “employee buyer’s regret” case where asked-for transfer was later construed as retaliation [Jon Hyman]
  • NLRB’s franchise power grab could prove costly to small business [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Connor Wolf]
  • A very different country: Supreme Court of Canada constitutionalizes a right of public employees to strike [On Labor]
  • Average full-time California municipal employee got 2013 compensation package of nearly $121,000 [Steven Greenhut]
  • Perfect, now let’s mandate sick day banking nationwide: “Montgomery [County] fire department has history of sick-day abuse among workers due to retire” [Washington Post]
  • Yet more unilateralism: Obama administration tightens regs on federal contractor sex discrimination [Roger Clegg]

How SCOTUS urban legends are made

No, the Supreme Court did not rule that firing a woman for breastfeeding is okay because men can lactate too. [Philip Miles, Lawffice Space]

P.S. Snopes weighs in (headlines “create a grossly misleading impression based upon one very minor element of a single aspect of the case”), prompting the ACLU’s Galen Sherwin to try a rescue mission in hopes readers would not lose interest in the case entirely once deprived of its clickbait elements. Raw Story, which did much to spread the silly meme, has now appended an easy-to-miss correction; Slate, which slapped an equally ridiculous headline on an Amanda Marcotte post, as of this writing has not.

Labor and employment roundup

  • Senate Republicans make noises about reining in runaway EEOC [Roger Clegg, Senate minority staff report, Human Resource Executive Online]
  • Yes, minimum wage increases hurt many low-skilled workers [NBER via Charles Hughes]
  • “Women earn less than men even when they set the pay” [Emma Jacobs, FT, via Tyler Cowen]
  • Just a typical fast food worker, except for happening to have a high-powered P.R. firm representing him [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Economics21]
  • Aaargh: “Federal judge wants to bury summary judgment for many reasons, but especially because it harms employment-discrimination plaintiffs” [CL&P]
  • “Ideally, someone from Human Resources will join you to meet with the aggrieved employee and inform her that the tree is staying up.” (Well, not up this far into January, but you know.) [Evil Skippy at Work]
  • “But”, sic: “Vermont has some of the most progressive wage-and-hour laws in the country, but low-income workers are still struggling.” [Alana Semuels, National Journal]

State of the Union speech

Update: I’m in this Cato video, my brief contribution on the president’s executive order powers beginning around the 2:15 mark:

I tweeted and liveblogged the State of the Union address last night so you wouldn’t have to watch. Here are Twitter highlights, in regular rather than reverse chronological order:

Discrimination award $27K, attorneys’ fee award nearly $700K

A Ninth Circuit panel has ratified that result in a gender discrimination case under California law, ruling that federal district judge Claudia Wilken was within her discretion to approve the award even though, as defendant United Parcel Service argued, “plaintiff Kim Muniz recovered comparatively little in damages and had not prevailed on most of her claims.” [Julia Love, The Recorder; Muniz v. UPS]