Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Restoring Civil Rights

New York Times
Restoring Civil Rights
Published: January 30, 2008

In recent decades, and to much public acclaim, Congress passed a series of landmark laws designed to ensure equal rights for all Americans. Lately, and without much notice, the Supreme Court has been gutting them.
Senator Edward Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, has introduced a pair of bills designed to undo the damage done by the court’s badly reasoned decisions. Congress should pass both without delay.
One of the most troubling rulings was in the case of Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant who was paid less than her male colleagues after she was given smaller raises over several years. The court’s conservative majority ruled that Ms. Ledbetter had not met the 180-day deadline to file her complaint. It insisted that the 180 days ran from the day the company had made the original decision to give her a smaller raise than the men.
The ruling made no sense, since Ms. Ledbetter was being discriminated against when she made her complaint. As a practical matter, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in a strongly worded dissent, it would have been exceptionally difficult for Ms. Ledbetter to complain when she was first given a lower raise than the male supervisors because Goodyear, like many employers, kept salaries and raises confidential.
The Fair Pay Restoration Act, one of Senator Kennedy’s bills, would undo the injustice of the Ledbetter decision by establishing that the 180-day deadline runs from when a worker receives the unequal pay, not when the employer decided to discriminate. It would make clear that each discriminatory paycheck restarts the clock.
Mr. Kennedy’s other bill, the Civil Rights Act of 2008, would reverse more bad decisions. One of these is a 2001 ruling that says that people who are discriminated against in programs using federal funds can sue only for intentional discrimination, not for actions that have a discriminatory effect. This decision dramatically scaled back protections against discrimination of all kinds.
The civil rights bill would also strengthen age discrimination laws, which the court has repeatedly and shamefully weakened. It would make clear that, contrary to the court’s recent interpretation, federal law barring age discrimination requires the same standard of proof as cases of race, gender and other forms of discrimination. Another provision of the bill would give students in schools that receive federal funds greater protection against harassment.
In the House of Representatives, John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, has introduced a companion bill to the Senate civil rights bill. The House has already passed its own version of the fair pay law.
Conservatives like to say that the court’s conservative justices believe in applying the law, not making it. But in recent years, the court’s majority has been reading federal anti-discrimination laws far more narrowly than Congress intended — not applying the law, but unmaking it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Women dispute legal basis for narrow set-asides

East Bay Business Times
January 28, 2008

Kent Hoover Washington Bureau Chief
Legal experts challenged the Bush administration's narrow approach to federal contracting set-asides for women-owned businesses, contending it has no basis in law and would doom the program to failure.
Seven years after Congress enacted the program, the Small Business Administration proposed regulations that would limit the set-asides to four industries: national security and international affairs; coating, engraving, heat treating and allied activities; household and institutional furniture, and kitchen cabinet manufacturing; and a limited set of motor vehicle dealers.
Under the proposed rule, each federal agency also would have to find evidence that it had discriminated against women-owned businesses in these industries before it could set any aside contracts.
The SBA and the Department of Justice contend the program must be narrowly targeted to stand up to legal scrutiny.
"Mere findings of disparity or underrepresentation are generally not sufficient to establish the constitutionality of a gender-based preference program," Elizabeth Papez, deputy assistant attorney general, testified at a Jan. 16 House Small Business Committee hearing. "Courts are likely to strike down such programs if the government cannot show genuine and non-hypothetical evidence of discrimination in the economic sphere in which the program will operate."
But Jennifer Brown, vice president and legal director for Legal Momentum, said the proposed rule's standard "comes out of nowhere." There are no court decisions that call for individual agencies to make these findings, much less admit they were guilty of discrimination, Brown said.
Legal Momentum is a New York City-based legal advocacy organization for women.
"It is frankly impossible to imagine any federal agency making a formal determination that it had engaged in sex discrimination in awarding government contracts," Brown said.
This would not only "embarrass the agency but presumably open it to litigation by past disappointed contractors," she said.
"I can only imagine the rush to the courthouse the next day." [To read the entire article, go to:]

Salary your HR person may be making

Story Highlights:
Human resources jobs expected to grow by 17 percent over next decade
HR supervisors overseeing salaries make on average $78,700
HR staffers who train employees earn around $55,500
Biggest pay jump for dealing with compensation, benefits, diversity

By Rachel Zupek
In a perfect world, C-level executives and employees on all rungs of the corporate ladder would communicate openly, honestly, conveniently and often. Companies, big and small, and their executives would boast of abilities to listen to feedback, answer questions and maintain close relationships with all employees.
Like I said -- in a perfect world.
While these relationships might exist in a few companies, it's virtually impossible with larger corporations. Lucky for them, that's why we have human resource (HR) professionals.
"Human resource employees used to strictly work behind-the-scenes of a company, handling the administration of areas such as payroll, hiring and benefits," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources with "Now, HR goes beyond the tactical aspects of these areas and acts as a strategic player. HR is the liaison between employees and top executives, helping executives understand what their workers really need and how to maximize their potential."
Overall HR employment is projected to grow by 17 percent between 2006 and 2016, estimating 1,015,000 jobs in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Plus, as the need for good HR specialists and executives increases, so does their annual compensation, according to a survey by Watson Wyatt, a global consulting firm, in association with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). In 2007, the highest percentage increases in average salary were given to HR professionals with strong skills in knowledge of compensation, benefits, international HR and diversity.
Other skills and qualifications for HR professionals include interpersonal capabilities, as well as a college degree. Most entry-level jobs require a degree in human resources or a background in business or liberal arts. An advanced degree is required for some jobs, as well as specific certifications.
Think you've got what it takes to make a successful career in HR? Here are 10 common HR positions with increases in job growth, according to SHRM and the BLS.
1. Compensation supervisors oversee the pay practice area of compensation, including wage, salary, incentive and executive compensation.
Average salary in 2007: $78,700
2006 employment: 49,000
2016 projection: 55,000
2. Employee benefits planning analysts deal with the company's employee-benefits program, usually creating its health insurance and pension plans.
Average salary in 2007: $62,000
2006 employment: 110,000
2016 projection: 130,000
3. Professional and technical staff recruiters seek out potential job candidates, interviewing and screening them for job openings within the company.
Average salary in 2007: $62,100
2006 employment: 197,000
2016 projection: 233,000
4. Human resource assistants maintain records of the organization's employees, such as their name, address, job title, earnings, benefits and tax withholding. They also perform general administrative tasks.
Average salary in 2007: $36,600
2006 employment: 168,000
2016 projection: 187,000
5. Compensation analysts gather, analyze and prepare wage and salary data to smooth the compensation and management functions of the company. They also review and propose changes to salary structures and position classification.
Average salary in 2007: $62,400
2006 employment: 110,000
2016 projection: 130,000
6. Employee benefits managers supervise employee benefits programs for companies. They create programs to insure employees against loss of income due to illness, injury, layoff or retirement.
Average salary in 2007: $89,200
2006 employment: 49,000
2016 projection: 55,000
7. Human resources generalists handle tasks in all areas of HR; staffing, employee relations, compensation, training, employment, labor relations, safety, affirmative action and employment equity programs, and personnel research.
Average salary in 2007: $55,900
2006 employment: 214,000
2016 projection: 250,000
8. Employee training specialists organize training activities for employees to maintain and improve their skill sets.
Average salary in 2007: $55,500
2006 employment: 210,000
2016 projection: 249,000
9. Human resources managers oversee and contribute to planning, developing, recommending and implementing HR activities, policies and procedures for companies.
Average salary in 2007: $80,700
2006 employment: 58,000
2016 projection: 65,000
10. Top human resources executives usually include director positions. The director of HR typically supervises departments like benefits, compensation, training and labor relations, all of which are managed by other supervisors specific to a certain department.
Average salary in 2007: $170,000
2006 employment: 58,000
2016 projection: 65,000
Employment projections provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics; Salary estimations provided by SHRM.

Bush Administration Intends to Change FMLA Regulations

Workforce Management
Bush Administration Intends to Change FMLA Regulations

Before the Bush administration exits a year from now, it intends to modify a major employee leave law for the first time since it was enacted 15 years ago. But the extent of the revisions likely will remain a mystery until sometime in February.

On Thursday, January 24, the Labor Department sent to the Office of Management and Budget proposed regulatory changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Business groups have criticized aspects of FMLA for causing administrative headaches, while advocates want to see it expanded. It’s not clear yet which side will be more disappointed by the proposal.
Although a Labor Department official announced the move through interviews with the Associated Press and The New York Times, the department has not provided any details about its recommendations.
The White House budget office has up to 90 days to review the proposal, but observers estimate that it likely will be published by mid-February in the Federal Register. The public would then have 60 days to comment. Then the Labor Department would issue a final regulation.
The law allows employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child or to deal with their own or a close relative’s sickness. It covers about 76 million workers.
The proposed revisions could include requiring that employees give prior notice before taking leave and revamping the medical certification process, according to published reports.
The proposal includes regulations that will implement an expansion of FMLA to provide up to 26 weeks of leave to injured military service members, according to the AP account. That provision was included in a larger defense bill that has been sent back to President Bush after he refused to sign it in December because of unrelated Iraq war language.
In addition, the FMLA language sent to the White House defines when employees would be eligible for 12 weeks of leave because of “any qualifying exigency” related to a spouse, son, daughter or parent being on or called to active duty.
The leave law has been controversial for most of its existence. A Labor Department survey about FMLA last year generated 15,000 comments, many from employers complaining about disruptions caused by unscheduled intermittent leave and the fuzzy definition of a serious health condition.
No one yet knows whether the scope of the proposal encompasses such big issues.
“I hope it does more than nibble around the edges,” says Marc Freedman, director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Maybe they’ve done something here that will have an impact—maybe not a wholesale revision but some approach that will help tighten it up and give employers more control over the use of [unscheduled intermittent] leave.”
FMLA advocates are worried that the Labor Department will undermine the law by modifying it to satisfy the business community.
“The Bush administration should do nothing more than … clarify the penalty for employers who do not properly designate and notify employees about FMLA leave,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, in a statement. “There is no need to do anything further to the FMLA, which is working well and has helped tens of millions of people.”
Mark Schoeff Jr

New Monograph Offers Guidance and Insight Into the Role of Chief Diversity Officers and Their Emergence in Academe

American Council on Education
CONTACT:Kellee Edmonds(202) 939-9365

Washington, DC (Jan. 28, 2008)—The authors of a new primer on the emergence and role of chief diversity officers (CDOs) at the nation's colleges and universities conclude that “without dedicated diversity leadership that focuses on driving the wheel of change as a matter of first priority, campuses will continue to flounder in their diversity efforts.”

Damon A. Williams, assistant vice provost for multicultural and international affairs at the University of Connecticut, and Katrina C. Wade-Golden, senior research scientist at the University of Michigan's Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, reach that conclusion in a monograph published by the American Council on Education (ACE).
The Chief Diversity Officer: A Primer for College and University Presidents is the third in a series of occasional papers by ACE's Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity (CAREE). The publication was produced with support from ING.
Williams and Wade-Golden tackle some of the following questions: What is a chief diversity officer? How are their capabilities designed? How can they play a key role in developing and delivering the diversity goals and objectives of the institutions they serve?
“With this monograph we really wanted to infuse discipline and clarity into the process of developing chief diversity officer capabilities in higher education,” said Williams. “Too often, presidents are forced to reinvent the wheel because they don't have a solid grasp of the who, what, and how of the CDO. With this monograph, and our impending book, we have hopefully made a contribution that higher education leaders can innovate from as they develop dynamic diversity capabilities at their respective institutions.”
“The prolific emergence of this capability within higher education is in accord with key societal trends to move the diversity and inclusion discussion from the periphery to the center,” added Wade-Golden. “It also underscores the critical importance for leadership to capitalize on this significant moment in time by giving deep consideration to the type of individual to fulfill the role within a specific institutional context, and equipping that officer with the requisite level of resources to accomplish their work with excellence.”
The paper takes a close look at the growth of chief diversity officers on U.S. campuses in recent years, explains three models of organizational diversity in higher education, offers strategic guidance for college and university presidents considering launching the CDO capability on their campus, and makes recommendations designed to help campus leaders create an environment for chief diversity officers to thrive.

Among the authors' key recommendations:
The CDO should report to the president or chief academic officer of the institution.
Senior leadership should charge the CDO to work as an integrator, collaborating with key departments across the institution.
Senior leadership must provide CDOs with both symbolic and material resources to encourage the change process on campus.
“It is clear that chief diversity officers are playing an increasingly vital role on the senior leadership team of college and university campuses,” said Diana I. Córdova, director of CAREE. “But presidents and chancellors tell us they continue to look for ways to leverage their skills to achieve maximum benefit with students and faculty—we hope this monograph can provide campus leaders with some guidance and new ideas.”
“At ING, diverse representation among our customer base is a business imperative. Diversity among our customers is directly correlated to diverse representation among our employees and distribution partners,” said Ethel Pippin, ING vice president. “Consistent with the recommendations of this monograph, ING has recently elevated the chief diversity officer role and has expanded the focus on increasing diverse representation within each core business unit in the U.S.”
The publication concludes with perspectives from two university presidents: Rebecca S. Chopp, president of Colgate University, and Mark A. Emmert, president of the University of Washington, who offer their own insight into this important topic.
As part of ACE's 90th Annual Meeting next month in San Diego, Williams and Wade-Golden will participate in a session on chief diversity officers co-sponsored by the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. They are also the authors of the forthcoming book The Chief Diversity Officer: Strategy, Structure, and Change Management.

Copies of The Chief Diversity Officer: A Primer for College and University Presidents (Item # 311683) are available for $25 plus shipping and handling via the ACE bookstore at Orders may also be placed through ACE Fulfillment Service, Department 191, Washington, DC, 20055 or by calling (301) 632-6757.
Editor's Note: A PDF of the report is available to reporters upon request. Please contact Kellee Edmonds at e-mail address above.
Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and influence public policy through advocacy, research, and program initiatives.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Congress Introduces Civil Rights Act of 2008

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Angela Okamura and Katie McCown
January 24, 2008

As the nation celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is fitting that Representative John Lewis, D. Ga., and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, D. Mass., should introduce the Civil Rights Act of 2008 this week, just days after King's birthday. The Act would restore civil rights protections Americans have counted on for decades.
"The introduction of the Civil Rights Act of 2008 could not come at a better time," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. "People think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is written in stone, but Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy is being dismantled court by court, judge by judge, and ruling by ruling, eviscerating protections that all Americans depend on."
In recent years, the federal judiciary has eroded our national commitment to equal opportunity for all. The courts have increasingly adopted narrow understandings of rights and new restrictions on access to the courts and effective legal remedies that together leave victims of discrimination without justice.
In order to guarantee that federal funds are no longer used to subsidize discrimination, the Civil Rights Act of 2008 will restore the right of individuals to challenge practices that have an unjustified discriminatory effect based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, or gender.
The bill will also hold state employers accountable for age discrimination, protect students from unlawful harassment in our schools, and improve the mechanisms of accountability for other civil rights and workers' rights violations.
Civil and human rights groups representing various communities applaud Sen. Kennedy's and Rep. Lewis' commitment to reversing the recent rollback in core civil rights protections.
Vincent Eng, deputy director of the Asian American Justice Center, highlights the Act's importance to his community: "Asian Americans across the country continue to face rampant discrimination in the workplace and encounter critical language and cultural barriers to accessing federal programs and services. Now is the time to ensure that we continue to provide communities with the safeguards they need to promote prosperous and productive citizens."
The last time Congress overturned a string of court rulings that severely impacted civil rights was in 1991, after the Supreme Court limited the rights of employees to prevail in court when discriminated against by their employers.


EEOC Settles Class Suit for Black Employees at Racially Hostile Workplace

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the settlement of a racial harassment lawsuit for $465,000 and significant remedial relief against Henredon Furniture Industries, Inc. on behalf of African American employees who were subjected to a persistent racially hostile work environment at a furniture plant.
According to the EEOC, from approximately 1998 through January 2006, African American employees at Henredon’s High Point manufacturing plant were subjected to racial slurs and name calling -- including the “N-word” -- as well as threats by hangman’s nooses that were displayed at the plant. The suit alleged that the harassment occurred almost daily. Henredon Furniture, a subsidiary of Furniture Brands International, operated a furniture plant in High Point, N.C., until January 2006. Furniture Brands International is America’s largest home furnishings manufacturer.
“This case is the latest indicator that racial harassment in general, and nooses in particular, remain persistent problems at some job sites nationwide,” said EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp. “It’s time for corporate America to be more proactive in preventing and eliminating racist behavior in the workplace. The EEOC intends to make clear that race and color discrimination in the workplace, whether verbal or behavioral, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
In addition to the $465,000 in compensatory damages to be divided among the seven class members, the three year consent decree resolving the case (EEOC v. Henredon Furniture Industries Inc., Case No. 1:06CV00744, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina), includes injunctive relief enjoining Henredon Furniture from engaging in racial harassment or retaliation; requires anti-discrimination training; requires the posting of a notice about the settlement; and requires the company to report complaints of racial harassment to the EEOC for monitoring.
EEOC Charlotte District Director Reuben Daniels, Jr. said, “This settlement should remind employers of the potentially serious consequences of failing to take effective action to prevent and remedy racial harassment. It is in the best interest of all employers to create inclusive, discrimination-free work environments in accordance with the law.”
Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the federal agency’s Charlotte District, which oversees North Carolina, Virginia, and most of South Carolina, added: “The EEOC is committed to the elimination of racial discrimination in the workplace as evidenced by the prosecution and resolution of this case, in addition to many others nationwide. We will not hesitate to take action against companies that allow employees of any race to be subjected to ongoing harassment.”
The Commission has observed a surge of racial harassment cases over the past two decades, some of which involve hangman’s nooses and verbal threats of lynching. Racial harassment charge filings with EEOC offices across the country have more than doubled from 3,075 in Fiscal Year 1991 to approximately 7,000 in FY 2007 (based on preliminary year-end data).
In addition to investigating and resolving charge filings brought to the EEOC, the agency has sued more than three dozen employers this decade in noose cases and reached several major settlements. In one recent case, the EEOC obtained more than $1 million for a black worker who was racially harassed and choked with a noose by his coworkers in a company bathroom.
On Feb. 28, 2007, Chair Earp launched the Commission’s E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), a national outreach, education, and enforcement campaign focusing on new and emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace. Further information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC’s web site at
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available at its website at

Senators Vow Fast Action on Wage-Bias Bill
Run Date: 01/25/08
By Allison Stevens
Washington Bureau Chief

Senators on Thursday vowed to push a bill that eases time pressures on wage-bias complaints. Ruth Bader Ginsburg urged the legislation last year after the high court ruled against Lilly Ledbetter.

WASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)--Senate Democrats vowed in a Senate hearing Thursday to take quick action on legislation that would reverse last year's Supreme Court decision making it more difficult for victims of wage discrimination to win lawsuits.
The Democrat-controlled House passed a similar version of the bill on July 30, with representatives voting largely along party lines.
If the bill clears Congress, it would go to President Bush, who issued a veto threat shortly before the House vote, saying it effectively eliminates time limitations on lawsuits.
"This is certainly not the first time we've pushed a piece of legislation with a veto threat," said Jocelyn Frye, a lawyer at the National Partnership for Women and Families, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., that is a leading supporter of the bill. "As more people learn about the legislation and what it's designed to do, and when they understand the limited, modest nature of the legislation, then some of the opposition will fade."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposes the measure but the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, which is not affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, supports it. (Neither group is a government agency.)
Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said the Senate would consider the bill after it addresses the looming recession with an economic stimulus package. Kennedy predicted a floor vote in the next two months, and said he has the backing of Democratic leaders.
"We're going to get action on it one way or another," he said after the committee held a hearing on the issue Thursday. "There's no reason we can't get to this very quickly."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

U-M president reaches out to Detroit students Talk sets welcoming tone, demystifies entry process

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The Ann Arbor News

DETROIT - After fielding questions about the intricacies of financial aid forms, study abroad programs and campus life at a forum in a Detroit church Tuesday, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman called on a man in the back of the sanctuary.
He asked a trickier question: Why should a student choose U-M over a private, out-of-state university in the wake of the passage of Proposal 2, the Michigan constitutional amendment that banned consideration of race and gender preferences in public education.
Coleman replied that she is committed to maintaining access to U-M, and she compared the university to five others she has known during her academic career.
"I will promise you none of those schools holds the candle to the experiences that students get (at U-M) and (to) the degree of dedication that runs up and down the institution for equity and social justice in this society,'' she said to applause. "... And so that's what I would tell a student, why you should come to Michigan: We want you.''
The dialogue came during a forum on access to higher education that doubled as a minority student recruitment event at the Greater Grace Temple, one of the largest churches in Detroit. It was the eighth time since 2004 that Coleman has lent a personal touch to minority student recruitment efforts by visiting black churches across the state.
Coleman brought more than a dozen top administrators to provide detailed answers to questions from an audience of about 350 parents and teenagers. She talked about the supportive environment on campus that would allow students to reach their full potential.
"We help people find their way at Michigan,'' she said. "Even though it's a big university, we work hard to make it small and make those connections right away so that students can get into their comfort zone and have somebody to talk to, and go find out what it is that makes them just want to jump out of bed in the morning and be really excited.''
Getting the message out to prospective minority students that U-M is a welcoming place has been a priority for many years. After student demonstrations in the early 1970s when the percentage of black enrollment was in the low single digits, U-M administrators set 10 percent as a goal. Three decades later, U-M has not achieved it, despite several variations of affirmative action admissions methods, including the process adopted in 2003 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled race could be considered as one of many factors in admitting students.
Then Michigan voters passed Proposal 2 in November 2006, forcing U-M to alter its methods again. It had to stop any consideration of race and gender preferences in admissions midway through the application cycle for the freshman class that arrived on campus last fall.
Although the 334 black freshmen who eventually enrolled was four more than the previous year, the overall numbers in the class also increased, making the black enrollment 5.8 percent. That was the smallest proportion of black students in a freshman class dating back to at least 1998.
[To read the entire article, go to:]

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Settlement Leads to Supreme Court Dismissal of ADA Suit

Workforce Management
January 16, 2008
Settlement Leads to Supreme Court Dismissal of ADA Suit

The question of whether the Americans With Disabilities Act requires employers to offer disabled workers a vacant job if a more qualified applicant is available remains unresolved.
The U.S Supreme Court, which agreed last month to review a case that would have decided the issue, dismissed the lawsuit Monday after the parties reached a confidential settlement.
At issue was whether the ADA requires that an employer reassign a disabled employee to a vacant, equivalent position for which he or she is qualified or merely permit the employee to apply and compete with other applicants.
Appellate courts have ruled differently on the issue.
In this case, Pam Huber sustained a permanent injury to her right arm and hand while working at a Bentonville, Arkansas, Wal-Mart store as a dry grocery order filler. She sought reassignment to a router position as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
But Wal-Mart required her to apply and compete for the position with other applicants, and ultimately filled the job with a nondisabled applicant, explaining that Huber was not the most qualified candidate. Instead, it placed her in a lower-paying maintenance associate position at the time.
Huber then sued Wal-Mart in federal court claiming discrimination under the ADA and the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993.
The court ruled in Huber’s favor. On appeal, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis overturned the decision, holding that employers are not required to offer positions to less qualified, disabled workers. [To read the entire article, go to:]

Perspectives: A “Legacy” of Racial Injustice in American Higher Education

Diverse Online

Current NewsPerspectives: A “Legacy” of Racial Injustice in American Higher Education
By Marybeth Gasman & Julie Vultaggio
Jan 22, 2008, 08:59

It’s admissions time again — this month admissions staff at the nation’s elite institutions are cooped up for days, scrutinizing hundreds of college applications. It’s also legacy time again….

Yale has the Bushes, Basses and Whitneys. Harvard has the Astors, Roosevelts and Kennedys. Throughout the history of American higher education, the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities have employed legacy policies that preference the children of privileged alumni. In fact, during the early 1900s, prominent graduates of the colonial colleges, fearing that their sons would be displaced in admissions processes, forced the hand of college administrators in myriad ways, such as threatening to withhold donations and using their connections with university higher ups to pull strings. Conversely, according to Dr. Marcia Synnott, the “demand of upwardly mobile sons of Jewish and Catholic immigrants” for admission to the nation’s elite institutions initiated “an institutional crisis, involving not only existing limitations of classroom space and campus housing, but also questions of educational purpose — of whom to educate and why.”

In the 1960s, as pressure toward racial integration intensified, acceptance rates rapidly increased for children of alumni — in some cases, to as much as three times higher than that of the past (Duffy & Goldberg, 1998). Given resistance on the part of historically White institutions to enrolling Black students during the civil rights era, legacy policies may have furnished an excuse to reject racial minorities without resorting to the quotas that had been used to exclude Jews and Catholics earlier in the century (Gasman, 2007; Thelin, 2004). As a result, Synnott writes, colleges became “citadels of Anglo-Saxon culture” and developed extensive legacy policies that continue to be used today. The primary consequence, however, lies in the exclusion of groups whose parents did not attend elite institutions of higher education.

First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge the benefits that institutions gain from legacy admissions. Preferential treatment given to legacies keeps alumni happy, has the potential to increase giving, and can strengthen the existing institutional culture. Generally speaking, most colleges and universities aim to have satisfied, generous graduates. However, as Dr. Jerome Karabel argues in his 2005 book The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton, advocating for legacy preferences with the goal of increasing alumni donations is becoming less persuasive as endowments soar over $20 billion. Likewise, while many colleges and universities long for an institutional culture rooted in history and tradition, when that culture is built on a tradition of exclusion, perhaps it should be changed. This quote from Synnott (1979) illustrates the issue:

Knowing precisely what they wanted, the prep school crowd created collegiate life. For the most part, they shunned honor grades in order to devote themselves to extracurricular activities: editorships, managerships, and athletic competitions. And not only were they paying customers, but they could usually be counted on to contribute generously both their time and money to alumni activities and fund-raising campaigns (the expectation of future support was less certain from students from lower income families).

Because legacy admits are typically wealthy, White, fourth-generation college students, they offer very little to colleges and universities in terms of racial and ethnic diversity. In fact, over 90 percent of legacy admits are White Protestants, especially at highly-selective institutions (Duffy & Goldberg, 1998; Golden, 2006; Howell & Turner, 2004; Larew, 1991). Thus, legacy admits ultimately reinforce the “high-income/high-education/white profile” (Bowen et al. 2005) of elite institutions and systematically reproduce a culture of racial and economic privilege.
[To read the entire article, go to:]

Monday, January 21, 2008

Borrowers Accuse Sallie Mae of Racial Discrimination

Two borrowers of student loans have filed a lawsuit against Sallie Mae, accusing the lender of charging higher interest rates and fees to minority students.
Chronicle News Blog
January 18, 2008

In the lawsuit, Sasha Rodriguez, a Hispanic woman in Connecticut, and Cathelyn Gregoire, an African-American woman in Florida, assert that Sallie Mae discriminates against minority borrowers by taking colleges’ default rates into account when setting interest rates. Institutions that serve large numbers of minority students often have higher default rates than other colleges do.
The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, also accuses Sallie Mae of violating the Truth in Lending Act by failing to conspicuously disclose its underwriting criteria and waiting to disclose the terms and conditions of its loans until after students receive their funds or start classes.
Sallie Mae acknowledged in a Congressional hearing last summer that it considers an institution’s overall default rate when setting interest rates. That admission prompted New York’s attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, and Rep. George Miller of California, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives education committee, to ask other lenders for their underwriting criteria.
Sallie Mae has until February 15 to respond to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut. The lender disclosed the litigation last month in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying it intended to “vigorously defend this action.” —Kelly Field

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Most Diversity Training Ineffective, Study Finds

Washington Post
By Shankar Vedantam Washington
Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 20, 2008; A03

Most diversity training efforts at American companies are ineffective and even counterproductive in increasing the number of women and minorities in managerial positions, according to an analysis that turns decades of conventional wisdom, government policy and court rulings on their head.
A comprehensive review of 31 years of data from 830 mid-size to large U.S. workplaces found that the kind of diversity training exercises offered at most firms were followed by a 7.5 percent drop in the number of women in management. The number of black, female managers fell by 10 percent, and the number of black men in top positions fell by 12 percent. Similar effects were seen for Latinos and Asians.
The analysis did not find that all diversity training is useless. Rather, it showed that mandatory programs -- often undertaken mainly with an eye to avoiding liability in discrimination lawsuits -- were the problem. When diversity training is voluntary and undertaken to advance a company's business goals, it was associated with increased diversity in management.
The origins of diversity training trace back to the civil rights movement and the belief that education, sensitivity and awareness are key to reducing discrimination. While many companies have embraced such training as a way to make workplaces more inclusive and to cater to an increasingly diverse customer base, trainers and researchers note that other companies use "sensitivity training" superficially -- as a cosmetic response to complaints from internal and external critics.
Today, U.S. businesses spend from $200 million to $300 million a year on diversity training, but the new study is one of the first attempts to systematically analyze its impact. What it found is that programs work best when they are voluntary and focus on specific organizational skills, such as establishing mentoring relationships and giving women and minorities a chance to prove their worth in high-profile roles.
"When attendance is voluntary, diversity training is followed by an increase in managerial diversity," said Alexandra Kalev, a sociologist at the University of Arizona, who led the research. "Most employers, however, force their managers and workers to go through training, and this is the least effective option in terms of increasing diversity. . . . Forcing people to go through training creates a backlash against diversity." [To read the entire article, go to:]

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Regents oppose affirmative-action ban

By MELISSA LEE / Lincoln Journal StarSaturday, Jan 19, 2008 - 12:33:09 am CST

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents on Friday gave its unanimous disapproval to a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would ban affirmative action in public education and employment.The amendment, which will appear on November ballots if supporters gather enough petition signatures, would end the use of racial, gender and ethnic preferences by public colleges and state agencies.If passed, it could have a dangerous effect on university programs and practices that aim to diversify the campuses, NU officials warned.Scholarships for minority students, women’s commissions, minority recruitment efforts and numerous other programs could be at risk, they said.“And I worry as much about the symbolism as the petition itself,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman said. “It sends a message that Nebraskans don’t care about diversity.”The initiative is led by Ward Connerly, a California businessman who has successfully spearheaded similar efforts in Washington, Michigan and his home state.Nebraska is one of five states being targeted by Connerly this year. The others are Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Oklahoma.In Nebraska, supporters need to gather about 115,000 voter signatures by July 4. They’re confident they will do so, and that voters will pass the measure in November.“Nebraskans are fair-minded people,” said Doug Tietz, executive director of the Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative, which supports Connerly’s mission.“They know that people shouldn’t be judged by what they look like. It’s as simple as that.” [To read the entire story, go to:]

Friday, January 18, 2008

Scholars Mount Sweeping Effort to Measure Effects of Affirmative Action in Higher Education
From the issue dated January 18, 2008

The affirmative-action programs at the nation's public colleges and professional schools are about to undergo a kind of scrutiny they have long managed to avoid: intensive research that examines whether they actually help the minority students who are their intended beneficiaries. A national consortium of about 20 professors and 10 graduate students has been collecting student data from colleges, law schools, and state bar associations — typically by invoking state public-records laws — with the intent of conducting a long list of studies on how minority students who receive admissions preferences fare in higher education and in the long term.
Colleges and universities have been reluctant to share such information in the past, often because they feared critics of affirmative action would use it to produce ideologically slanted studies that potentially stereotyped or stigmatized minority students. Some advocates of affirmative action remain similarly skeptical of the new consortium's intentions, partly because the researcher who is leading its efforts as principal investigator is Richard H. Sander. Mr. Sander, a professor of law at the University of California at Los Angeles, has been embraced by conservative activists for his studies that criticize law schools' affirmative-action policies as counterproductive.
However, other scholars involved with the undertaking describe themselves as supporters of affirmative action and characterized their group as committed to studying those policies objectively.
Among them, William D. Henderson, an associate professor of law at Indiana University's Bloomington campus, said he endorses the idea that diversity yields educational benefits for all students and he has no intention of using his research to argue that affirmative action should be abandoned. Nevertheless, he said, "there is a good possibility that we are not getting optimal outcomes right now, to the extent that current policies are backfiring," and "if diversity comes at the expense of young people not getting the education they need, we need to be sensitive to those dynamics."
Neither Mr. Sander nor Jane R. Yakowitz, the consortium's director, would release the names of all those involved with the consortium. But Ms. Yakowitz said the group has "a base of researchers who are neutral or even affirmative-action supporters."
"Not only has there been an effort to get balance, but I think it is important to even skew liberal," Ms. Yakowitz said. "We are looking at something that is clearly politically controversial, and it is important we look at it for the right reasons."
Out in the Sunshine
The research consortium is known as Project Seaphe, with the acronym standing for Scale and Effect of Admissions Preferences in Higher Education. Its members, who include sociologists, economists, and law professors, intend to undertake at least 18 different studies using the information they obtain from higher-education institutions, with the tentative goal of discussing their findings at a conference sometime in 2009, Mr. Sander said.
The consortium is receiving financial support from the Searle Freedom Trust, a Washington-based foundation with libertarian leanings that has been a major supporter of research by the American Enterprise Institute and other conservative groups. In addition to looking at admissions preferences for minority students, it also plans to examine the effects of preferences for low-income students, athletes, the children of alumni, and other subsets of colleges' applicant pools.
The group has submitted freedom-of-information requests to nearly all of the nation's more than 80 public law schools. About 20 promptly gave the consortium the student data it sought. and most others seem willing to fulfill the consortium's information request, Mr. Sander said.
"A lot of schools seem eager to cooperate," Mr. Sander added. "There has definitely been a change in the climate" regarding such data, and "individual schools feel less defensive" about sharing them, he said.
The consortium also has contacted about 100 undergraduate colleges, and has received data from 25 and pledges of cooperation from at least 40 others, Mr. Sander said.
Helping the consortium's efforts, he said, are the strong freedom-of-information laws in place in most states, which higher-education institutions generally interpret as obliging them to provide the consortium with the information it seeks.
Among the law schools that have provided information to the consortium is Ohio State University's. Its dean, Nancy H. Rogers, who recently completed a term as president of the Association of American Law Schools, said last week that "it is hard to have views on research that has not been done." But, she added, "the academy in general is supportive of research," and "most scholars want to see more research, not less."
John H. Garvey, dean of Boston College's law school and the law-school association's new president, said, "You can find in legal education a real difference of opinion about the value of affirmative action." Nevertheless, he said, "I just have to believe that being well informed about what steps are going to be effective in the long run is in everybody's benefit."
Others were less sanguine. Charles E. Daye, a professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has harshly criticized Mr. Sander's past research as biased against affirmative action, expressed suspicion that Project Seaphe had some sort of agenda. "I am not going to characterize the study," he said, but "I can tell you they have a project that is on a mission."
Despite his misgivings about the project, Mr. Daye has agreed to provide the consortium with the findings of his own pending study of diversity on law-school campuses. Although he is not yet ready to release his results, he said, he is obliged to share such information under the terms of the Law School Admission Council grant financing his research.
Shirley J. Wilcher, executive director of the American Association for Affirmative Action, which represents affirmative-action officers at colleges and other public and private institutions, said "we view the likely outcome of this research with skepticism, given Mr. Sander's previous work." "Moreover," she said, "we do not know who the other researchers are or why affirmative-action practitioners were not invited to join this important project," and her group doubts the results of the research "will be useful" to higher-education institutions or minority students.
[To read the entire article, go to:]

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Notes on the Right: Connerly's Super Tuesday

By Lee Cokorinos
for the Equal Justice Society
Summer 2007

November 2006, when Ward Connerly scored his first state ballot initiative victory against affirmative action in eight years with a lopsided 58-42 percent win in Michigan, speculation has been rife over where he and his wealthy backers would next turn their attention.

In a speech to the Heritage Foundation in March, Connerly declared his intention to expand on the Michigan win by organizing a multi-state “Super Tuesday for Equal Treatment,” calling it “the most high stakes effort that we will ever engage in.”

At the Heritage briefing, Connerly said he would be choosing five states to target from a list of nine, but subsequently cut the number to four. He may have run into difficulty finding the resources and well-connected in-state supporters needed to sustain a coordinated campaign across such a wide field.

In late April, at a high profile event in Denver, Connerly finally declared his intention to target Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arizona with simultaneous initiatives on November 4, 2008. Campaign announcements in the other three states followed. If passed by the voters, these referenda, using identical ballot language, would outlaw state-level affirmative action policies on race and gender in public education, contracting and employment.

The Supreme Court: A “Speed Bump”Connerly has sought to present his initiative as a grassroots effort, a mischaracterization repeated by the Christian Science Monitor. But this is no grassroots movement. The main supporters of his “Super Tuesday” campaign come from the same cozy circle of well-funded conservative political operatives who have been backing the national assault on diversity policies since the early 1990s. In his Heritage talk, Connerly referred to them as “our own vast right wing conspiracy.”

Connerly told his audience that he has formed a twelve member “working group” to “fashion a national campaign” to overturn the “diversity rationale” that the Supreme Court applied in upholding affirmative action at the University of Michigan. Chastising his colleagues for taking too timid an approach to overturning Grutter, Connerly has declared that “a negative court decision should be regarded as merely a speed bump.”

The working group for “Super Tuesday,” which is being run under the umbrella of Connerly’s American Civil Rights Coalition, includes, among others, Linda Chavez and Roger Clegg of the Bradley foundation-funded Center for Equal Opportunity. Clegg has been working for several years on a project to uproot state legislation and regulations that attempt to secure diversity in education, contracting and employment. Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and National Labor Relations Board, was also named by Connerly as being part of the group; as was Manuel Klausner, co-author of California’s Prop 209 and immediate past chair of the Federalist Society’s Free Speech and Election Law Practice Group.

Other members include Terry Pell of the Center for Individual Rights, also funded by Bradley, which litigated the University of Michigan cases for lead plaintiff Jennifer Gratz (now director of state and local initiatives for Connerly); and John Carlson, the Seattle talk radio host who spearheaded I-200, the 1998 initiative banning affirmative action in Washington State.

Abigail Thernstrom, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, is also in the working group. Thernstrom has been waging academic warfare against diversity policies and serves on the boards of both the Center for Equal Opportunity and Clint Bolick’s Institute for Justice.

Battleground StatesIn three of the four states targeted by Connerly, leading members of the anti-civil rights infrastructure established over the past two decades by the Right’s major foundations form the core of his support. [To read the entire story, go to:]

Molly Broad Will Lead ACE

Inside Higher Education
January 16, 2008

Molly Corbett Broad was on Tuesday named as the next president of the American Council on Education, which acts as the chief voice for higher education as a whole in federal policy debates.
Broad has held a series of senior positions in state university systems, most recently as president of the University of North Carolina System. She previously was executive vice chancellor of the California State University System and also was chief executive officer of Arizona’s university system. Since leaving the North Carolina presidency in 2006, Broad has remained active in higher education policy. Among other things, she was involved in the creation of the Voluntary System of Accountability, an effort by state university groups to have institutions report in comparable ways on student outcomes.
At North Carolina, she pushed a variety of measures to attract more funds for the university system. Some of her moves were controversial, as when she suggested that tuition — historically low in North Carolina — could increase (along with need-based aid). More popular on campuses, she won voter approval for $3.1 billion in bond authority for facilities — an infusion of funds that university leaders said was overdue to update aging facilities and to handle enrollment growth.
Broad will be the first woman to lead ACE. Of the numerous higher education associations in Washington, six are considered “presidential” associations, representing broad sectors of higher education, and those six are all headed by men — a fact that has been much remarked upon as women have not only dominated student enrollments but have taken on more and more college presidencies. [To read the entire article, go to:]

How Do We Get Our Managers to Promote Diversity?

Dear Workforce Management
January 17, 2008

How Do We Get Our Managers to Promote Diversity?

Q. We want our managers to play an active role in promoting greater multicultural diversity among our workforce. How might this magnify the challenges they already face in motivating their employees? What type of obstacles/resistance should they expect, and how could we train them to answer those objections?
—Seeking Inspiration, agency diversity manager, government, Phoenix

A. Direct support from the CEO and other key executives throughout the organization is critical. Communications surrounding diversity initiatives should be aligned with senior-level management’s demonstrated commitment.
Integrate diversity initiatives into your organizational climate. Your management should devote itself to improving communication skills surrounding diversity, while learning to respect, appreciate and understand other people’s different backgrounds.
When communicating such programs, avoid “creative writing” and keep the targeted message clear and concise for the entire workforce. Explain the sensibility of diversity programs and why demonstrated efforts make better business sense. Provide guidance and training to management by outlining the objectives of diversity efforts, and quantifiable results. Managers’ commitment should be tied to individual performance appraisals, as well as departmental goals with a significant weighting toward their overall rating. Also, actions speaks louder than words; therefore, make sure diversity efforts are visible, such as appointing a diversity leader, promotions, board development and/or new staff appointments that are aligned with diversification.
Further, establish benefits of diversity and map out an inclusion strategy at all levels of the company—while understanding your workplace population to appropriately select the best method of communications. Whether communicating via employee newsletters, company intranet, brand messaging, computer log-in welcome messages, company-sponsored blogs, employee message boards, podcasts, diversity value statements/policies or other forms of communications, make certain that managers have access to any resources needed to address diversity-related issues.
In addition, consider forming a diversity committee and include employees from different departments. Ensure progress is measurable with actual results and consistent monitoring of diversity programs. You might also want to explore engaging an outside consultant with subject-matter expertise to further educate managers how diversity and inclusiveness favorably affect company performance. Consider adopting a “train the trainer” concept with frequent and ongoing mandatory training, workshops and/or speaker lectures, including new-hire employment orientation.
SOURCE: Keith Smith, Consortia Solutions Inc., New York, November 15, 2007.
LEARN MORE: Please read how a successful diversity effort “creates a culture in which people of various backgrounds are happy, productive and successful.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sexism, Racism: Which Is More Taboo?

Published: 1/14/08, 6:46 PM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) - Expressions of sexism and racism emerging from the contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have been blatant, subtle and perhaps sometimes imagined, and they are renewing the national debate over what is and isn't acceptable to say in public.
Clinton's camp has perceived sexism in comments about her appearance and emotions. Supporters of Obama have complained about racial overtones in remarks about his Muslim-sounding middle name, Hussein, and his acknowledged drug use as a young man.
Beyond the back-and-forth between a white woman and a black man seeking the Democratic presidential nominaton, the situation has created a snapshot of the nation's sensitivity - or lack thereof - to certain kinds of comments. Is it more acceptable, for instance, to make a sexist remark than a racist remark?
"It's always been easier," says Marie Wilson, president of the White House Project, which encourages women's advancement in politics. "With women, you can get away with it.
"With race, you can hardly say anything."
Feminist leader Gloria Steinem, argued in a New York Times op-ed last week that gender is "probably the most restricting force in American life" - more so than race.
But others involved in politics suggest the situation is more complex and that both race and gender are used to discriminate against people.
Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, a board member of the Black Leadership Forum, said that as a black woman she has experienced both racism and sexism, and suggested there was little point in ranking them.
"In parts of the country, the racist terms fall just as easily off the lips as they always did," she said. "And there are also places that I can't go because I am a woman, and that bothers me just as much."
Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, said sexist and racist expressions both remain all too common in public discourse, though she said the racism often may be "somewhat coded." [To read the entire article, go to:]

BAMN Files Legal Argument for a Full Trial on Michigan's Anti-Affirmative-Action Proposal 2

BAMN E-MAIL - 1/15/2008
BAMN Press Release

SAVE THE DATE FEB. 6th to Protest and Pack the Court Hearing

On Monday, January 7, 2008, BAMN submitted its brief to U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson explaining why a full trial in Coalition to Defend...(BAMN) v. Regents of the University of Michigan is absolutely essential in deciding whether or not Proposal 2, the ban on affirmative action in Michigan, is constitutional. The defendants in the case, including Michigan Attorney General Michael Cox, and Intervenor Eric Russell, as well as co-plaintiffs from the ACLU have requested summary judgement – i.e. a ruling without a trial.
Oral arguments will be heardon Wednesday, February 6, 2008 at 3pmin Federal District Court, (Shelby between Fort and Lafayette – Detroit, Michigan) Judge Lawson's Courtroom
"The question of whether or not we get a trial will completely determine whether or not we win or lose in the higher courts," said Shanta Driver, BAMN attorney. "Several members of the Sixth Circuit have already expressed their hostility to affirmative action programs, pre-judging them as 'preferences' for minority students. Only with a full trial can we prove that, contrary to being a 'preference,' affirmative action programs are the only effective anti-discrimination measures ever found that can desegregate our nation's universities."
A trial in this case will determine whether the standards of Plessy v. Ferguson will be restored, i.e. whether there is a legal ban on all desegregation measures.
The factual disputes in the case are (1) whether affirmative action programs are the only means for keeping the universities desegregated, (2) whether the universities' admission criteria without affirmative action are irremediably discriminatory against black, Latina/o, and Native American students, (3) whether Proposal 2 was an intentional attempt to exclude minorities from the state's universities, and (4) whether Proposal 2 has relegated racial minorities to a Jim Crow procedure for securing relief from the discrimination that they otherwise will face in university admissions.
"The entire argument of the opponents of affirmative action is built on two myths. The first myth is that racial discrimination has decreased so dramatically that minorities can compete under the existing criteria if only they work harder. The second myth is that the existing admissions criteria are racially neutral," continued Ms. Driver.
The opponents of affirmative action used the code word "preference" to appeal to white people's fears of being displaced by the growing minority populations of this nation. The sole support for Prop 2 came from white voters. Comprising 87 percent of the electorate, white voters approved Prop 2 by a two-to-one majority. Black voters rejected it by a nine-to-one majority.
From Andrew Johnson's veto of the Freedman's Bill through the segregationists' opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the opponents of integration have always called a change in the existing (and discriminatory) state of affairs a "preference."
But in Brown v. Board of Education and in the legion of cases that followed it, the Supreme Court insisted that in cases of racial discrimination the courts must look at reality and not at the verbal formulas used to justify that reality. Unlike the Sixth and Ninth Circuit panels that expressed approval for Proposal 2 and Proposition 209 based upon their linguistic analysis of the terms "equal" and "preference," Brown did not compare the language of the Equal Protection Clause with the language "separate but equal." On the contrary, it held that the constitutional legitimacy of "separate but equal" could only be decided by considering the actual effects of segregation on minority students "in light of [public education's] full development and its present place in American life..."
In the deposition taken by BAMN on October 24, 2007, Connerly said that he knew before proposing Proposal 209 in California that the California K-12 educational system was highly unequal and that this contributed to the lower adjusted grade point averages of black, Latina/o and Native American applicants to the University of California. He admitted that white students are given an advantage when test scores are used in an admissions system that does not consider race. Connerly also admitted that he knew beforehand that Proposal 2 would drive down the number of minority students at selective schools—and that there was nothing the admissions officers could do to stop it. Moreover, he admitted, that was the result he wanted—in order to administer what he called "tough love" to minority students. (Get the transcript of the Connerly deposition here.) BAMN believes that all these admissions make clear that Proposal 2 was an intentional effort to drive underrepresented minorities out of the University of Michigan and the state's graduate and professional schools.
The Supreme Court has held repeatedly that the Fourteenth Amendment prevents a white majority from (1) passing laws that intentionally exclude racial minorities from education, or (2) imposing more onerous political burdens on racial minorities when they attempt to win passage of programs that they hope will eliminate or lessen the problems caused by racial discrimination.
"Proposal 2 has placed black, Latina/o and Native American residents in the jaws of a vise. They cannot secure admission to the universities as long as Proposal 2 exists—but they also have no possibility whatever of repealing Proposal 2. This situation is neither just nor socially tenable," said George Washington, BAMN attorney.

Race and Gender in Presidential Politics: A Debate Between Gloria Steinem and Melissa Harris-Lacewell

Democracy Now - The War and Peace Report
January 14, 2008

In the race for the Democratic nomination, a victory for either Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator Barack Obama—as the first woman or African American Democratic nominee—would be unprecedented in U.S. history. We host a discussion on race and gender politics with feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem and Princeton University Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell.

Gloria Steinem, feminist pioneer and bestselling author of several books, including Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. In the early ‘70s she founded Ms. Magazine and New York magazine and also helped organize the National Women’s Political Caucus. More recently she co-founded the Women’s Media Center in 2004.
Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University. She is author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought. She is at work on a new book called For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Politics When Being Strong Wasn’t Enough.
Rush TranscriptThis transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.

Related Links
Read Steinem's OpEd "Women Are Never Front-Runners" (See AAAA Blog)
Women's Media Center
Melissa Harris Lacewell Online

AMY GOODMAN: The results from Iowa and New Hampshire have placed Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as the current frontrunners for the Democratic nomination. A victory for either of them as the first woman or African American Democratic nominee, not to mention president, would be unprecedented in American history.
In recent days, their differences over foreign and domestic policy have taken a backseat. Instead, questions of race and gender have dominated the political contest between them. The debate came to a head over a comment made by Senator Clinton in an interview on Fox News.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do; presidents before had not even tried. But it took a president to get it done. That dream became a reality, the power of that dream became real in people’s lives, because we had a president who said, “We’re going to do it,” and actually got it accomplished.
AMY GOODMAN: After Clinton made those remarks, Senator Obama and several others criticized her for minimizing Dr. King’s role in securing the Civil Rights Act. NBC host Tim Russert questioned Senator Clinton about this on Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press. Clinton emphasized race or gender should have nothing to do with the campaign.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: This is the most exciting election we’ve had in such a long time, because you have an African American, an extraordinary man, a person of tremendous talents and abilities, running to become our president; you have a woman running to break the highest and hardest glass ceiling. I don’t think either of us want to inject race or gender in this campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, we host a discussion on race and gender politics in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Gloria Steinem is a feminist pioneer, a bestselling writer. She founded Ms. Magazine, helped organize the National Women’s Political Caucus in the early ’70s, and in 2004 co-founded the Women’s Media Center. Gloria Steinem recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Times supporting Hillary Clinton. It’s titled “Women Are Never Front-Runners.” She argues Senator Obama could never have been a viable candidate if he were a woman and asks, “Why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one?” Gloria Steinem joins me here in the firehouse studio.
Melissa Harris-Lacewell is Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University. She is the author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought. She is at work on a new book called For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Politics When Being Strong Wasn’t Enough. Melissa Harris-Lacewell is a Barack Obama supporter. She joins us now from Princeton, New Jersey.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Gloria Steinem, let’s begin with you. You laid out a hypothetical in your op-ed piece, in your column. Why don’t you lay it out for us here?
GLORIA STEINEM: Well, I was just—I think one learns a lot from parallels, and so it would be interesting to try to project what would have happened to Barack Obama in his life if he had been a female human being. I mean, I really think that we have seen historically that women of color, African American women, have understood—have been just in a better position, you know, to understand the roles of both sex and race, and it made me nostalgic for the days of Shirley Chisholm and campaigning for Shirley Chisholm.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean?
GLORIA STEINEM: Well, you know, it was so clear that, you know, because one didn’t have to choose between race and gender. And indeed, I am still trying not to choose between race and gender, because the basis of my choice was not that, but that, in fact, Hillary Clinton will arrive in Washington knowing how Washington works, because she’s had it written on her skin like Kafka in The Prisoner—wasn’t it?—when—and I think we can’t afford really—we’re in such dire circumstances that to have the first couple of years of Carter or even the first couple of years of Clinton again, who arrived in Washington not understanding how Washington worked. But if Barack Obama is the candidate, I will work for him with a whole heart. And I wish we had preferential voting, you know, so we can go one, two and three, at least, rather than having to choose only one.
AMY GOODMAN: You hadn’t originally come out for Hillary Clinton.
GLORIA STEINEM: No, my first column on this subject was essentially taking to task the media, who were asking us, trying to force us to choose prematurely and asking me, “Are you supporting Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?” And I would always just say yes, because it seemed to me wrong that they were, you know, so forced on—so focused on this long before the primaries.
AMY GOODMAN: Melissa Harris-Lacewell, your thoughts on this discussion about race and gender?
MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, I mean, honestly, I’m appalled by the parallel that Ms. Steinem draws in the beginning part of the New York Times article. What she’s trying to do there is to make a claim towards sort of bringing in black women into a coalition around questions of gender and asking us to ignore the ways in which race and gender intersect. This is actually a standard problem of second-wave feminism, which, although there have been twenty-five years now—oh, going on forty years, actually, of African American women pushing back against this, have really failed to think about the ways in which trying to appropriate black women’s lives’ experience in that way is really offensive, actually.
And so, when Steinem suggests, for example, in that article that Obama is a lawyer married to another lawyer and to suggest that, for example, Hillary Clinton represents some kind of sort of breakthrough in questions of gender, I think that ignores an entire history in which white women have in fact been in the White House. They’ve been there as an attachment to white male patriarchal power. It’s the same way that Hillary Clinton is now making a claim towards experience. It’s not her experience. It’s her experience married to, connected to, climbing up on white male patriarchy. This is exactly the ways in which this kind of system actually silences questions of gender that are more complicated than simply sort of putting white women in positions of power and then claiming women’s issues are cared for.
Now, what I know from the work that I’ve done on the Obama campaign is that there are tens of thousands of extremely hard-working white men and women, as well as black men and women, as well as actually a huge multiracial and interethnic coalition of people working for Barack Obama. And so, for Steinem to sort of make this very clear race and gender dichotomy that she does in that New York Times op-ed piece, I think it’s the very worst of second-wave feminism.
[To see the entire transcript or view the video, go to:]

Supreme Court Case Could Expose Employers to More Age Bias Trials

Workforce Management
January 10, 2008

Deputy sheriffs are exposed to danger every day on the job. But in Kentucky, if they get shot and put out of work, the amount of benefits they can receive depends on when in their career the incident occurs.
Under Kentucky law, people who work in hazardous public service occupations can retire after 20 years of service or when they’re 55—as long as they’ve worked at least five years by that time.
But safety officers are ineligible for disability payments if they are 55 or older because they already qualify for retirement benefits. Younger colleagues who are injured can receive disability until they reach retirement age.
This situation produced a lawsuit by a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department employee, Charles Lickteig, who was disabled at age 61 after 18 years of service and was denied disability benefits.
Lickteig filed an age discrimination suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asserting that younger workers are treated better in the Kentucky system.
A federal district court ruled in 2003 that Kentucky did not discriminate based on age. But the full 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, 10-4, finding that Kentucky excludes workers from disability benefits because of their age. The state appealed to the Supreme Court.
In an oral argument before the high court on Wednesday, January 9, Robert Klausner, an attorney for Kentucky Retirement Systems, said that state policy does not violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. It simply fills in the gap between the time a younger employee is hurt and retirement.
“It’s about retirement eligibility, not about age,” Klausner said. “What this case is about … is being fair without regard to age.”
Malcolm Stewart, an assistant to the solicitor general who is representing the EEOC, argued that the Kentucky program is unfair to employees already working beyond retirement age.
“There is no reason to think that the older people … as a group will have fewer years in the line of fire than younger people,” Stewart said. “What [Kentucky] can’t do is use age as a proxy, as the basis for how many years that person would have worked if he or she had not been disabled.” [To read the entire article, go to:]

Monday, January 14, 2008


WASHINGTON - Jazz great Wynton Marsalis laments that some employers "play a cacophonous tune called discrimination" in one of two video public service announcements that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) unveiled today.
Both 30-second PSAs feature Marsalis and focus on the value of diversity in the workplace and the dangers of discrimination. The PSAs were produced in cooperation with Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) and shot at JALC's New York facility in October. The EEOC plans an aggressive push to air the PSAs on television and cable stations, on web sites and on radio. The spots are close-captioned for the hearing-impaired.
The announcements should help heighten awareness of race and color discrimination as the EEOC advances its national initiative to bring a fresh, 21st century approach to combating racism, which remains the most frequent claim filed with the agency. E-RACE (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment) is an outreach, education, and enforcement campaign to advance the statutory right to a workplace free of race and color discrimination.
"The EEOC is proud to partner with Wynton Marsalis to convey this information," EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp said. "His participation enhances our message and ensures that a broad audience will be apprised of the importance of equal employment opportunity."
In the spots, Marsalis speaks the following lines:
Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, has won nine Grammy Awards, and is the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical records -- an accomplishment he repeated in consecutive years. His radio and television series were awarded the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award. In 1996, Time magazine celebrated Marsalis as one of America's 25 Most Influential People. In 1997, Marsalis became the first jazz musician ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his epic oratorio Blood on the Fields.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

I'm a black woman. This is my dream

By Patricia Williams
The Observer UK
Sunday 13 January 2008

The two Democrat candidates have gone through fire to get this far; now they deserve to go further.
The political history of the United States has been crafted by its greatest orators. From Thomas Jefferson to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, the most influential Presidents have anchored their appeal in the democracy of the eloquently spoken word. As the election of November 2008 draws closer, we usher out George W Bush, the most spectacularly dismal exception to that rule. Of course, there are many attributes other than oratory I'll be looking for in candidates running for highest office: he or she must not think war is a 'cakewalk', must be alarmed about global warming, must not think torture is a handy little tool. Nevertheless, I will be listening hard for any future President's ability to string words into unmuddied, coherent thought. I'll be listening for ideas that have been worked through sufficiently to have a beginning, a middle and an end. I'm looking for intelligence. Someone who has real ideas, something more than missiles wrapped in folksy homilies.
Too many people see Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's appeal as rooted in 'identity politics'. It is the cheap political equation of the moment. He's supposed to walk away with the black vote, she's supposed to have women all sewn up. But the diversity of their constituencies and the complexity of their platforms have defied simplistic expectations.
There's a cliché in the American civil rights community: if you're a member of a stigmatised group, you have to be twice as good as everyone else to accomplish half as much. Clinton and Obama have been tested by fire; neither rose to this level of national importance because anyone gave them a pass.
Hillary Clinton was among the first generation of women to attend law school in any numbers. She's about four years older than me and the barriers were enormous back then. Her first political work, as a student advocate for women's rights and minority admissions, opened the door a little wider for people like me. When I arrived at law school, there was still much moaning that women were 'taking over', even though we constituted 8 per cent of law students.
Today, women make up 50 per cent of most law school classes. It took enormous fortitude to succeed in that atmosphere. Indeed, Hillary has stood up to and overcome an onslaught. As Senator Clinton campaigned in Iowa, it was to the snarky drone of shock jock Rush Limbaugh babbling about how no one wants to watch a middle-aged woman grow old. Her detailed and thoughtful ideas for a universal healthcare system have been derided as the dangerous, communist ravings of a radical feminist. The New York Times's Maureen Dowd called Clinton a 'dominatrix ... control freak' who 'whips' her opponents into line.
Not that there's any consistency to prejudice of this sort. There was quite the kerfuffle when someone asked her how she was doing after her loss in Iowa and a tremble shook her voice. If Clinton-haters have got their jollies from painting her as steely and remote, in the mere mist of an eye she became too soft, wavering, choked up, broken down. Headlines implied that Clinton had lost it. Yet look at the video: she speaks of her plans for the country with eloquent emotion and great composure, her voice soft but strong. There were no tears. There was nothing undignified about it.
Meanwhile, Obama walks a fine line of both being 'not black enough' and pandering to 'special interests'. The accusation that he is 'inexperienced' is a cipher for deeper cultural anxieties about race.
Senator Obama is a presidential candidate of profound decency and great eloquence. He was president of the Harvard Law Review, a position that requires not just the highest grades, but also the unanimous acclaim of a band of viciously competitive students and a famously divided faculty.
American identity is best defined as the experience of the willing diaspora, the break by choice that is the heart of the immigrant myth. It is that narrative from which most African-Americans have been exiled. Hence it is precisely his place in that narrative that makes Obama so attractive, so intriguing and yet so strange. Obama's late father migrated from Kenya to the US; his mother was from Kansas. He's managed to fuse the immigrant myth of rapid upward mobility, until then almost exclusively white and European, on to the figure of a black man. Yet there are many for whom his appeal rests not on what he is - smart, full of fresh vision - but on what they imagine he isn't. He's not a whiner. He doesn't hate white people. He doesn't wear his hair like Al Sharpton.
Senator Joseph Biden, like Bush another exemplar of crude oratorical inelegance, expressed it as follows: 'I mean, you got the first sort of mainstream African-American who's articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man.' Such faint, condescending praise.
In the coming months, I expect to see much confusion as the importance of gender, the visibility of race and the commitment to pretend none of it matters is sorted out. The American public is reeling with images of Hillary, our first viable female candidate for President, floating on the endorsements of a raft of black religious leaders, and Obama, our first viable black candidate for President, flanked by a pride of Oprah-watching, white 'soccer moms'. Add a sprinkling of Bill Clinton, popularly caricatured as our 'first black President'. Fold in Michelle Obama, popularly caricatured as an outspoken career woman who doesn't like to stay home and bake cookies any more than Hillary. Turn the pressure cooker to high.
As the right's Rovean spinmeisters kick into action, wrapping both Obama and Clinton in sticky webs of hybridised stereotypes, she will be cast as too 'mannish', he too 'boyish'. She'll be too familiar, he too foreign.
Yet I pray that we Americans can resist the vicious, vacuous, mudslinging mire of malapropisms from which the Bush presidency loped to power. This is an extraordinary moment in American history: we have our first serious black and female presidential candidates and they are, indeed, twice as good as their nearest contenders. I hope that the two of them, in whatever order, will become running mates by November. They must not fall prey to those who would love to see them played against each other in the scramble to be top dog. --------
Patricia Williams is a professor of law at Columbia University and a regular columnist for the Nation.

Thanks to Marshall Rose for sharing this commentary.,,2240139,00.html

Racial harassment still infecting the workplace

Despite decades of civil-rights progress, workers’ complaints are rising
By Eve Tahmincioglu
updated 9:24 p.m. ET, Sun., Jan. 13, 2008

Many of us are marveling at how seemingly far our society has come given a man with an African American heritage is being considered a serious candidate for president. But in the workplace, attitudes toward many black workers are anything but inspiring.
Racial harassment is up to record levels in offices and factories across the country, and we’re not talking just the use of the “N” word. Racist graffiti, Klu Klux Klan propaganda and even physical threats including the display of hangman’s nooses are included among the intimidation tools.
“It is shocking that such egregious and unlawful conduct toward African American employees is still occurring, even increasing, in the 21st century workplace, more than 40 years after enactment of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964,” says David Grinberg, spokesman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also known as the EEOC.
Racial harassment cases have more than doubled since the early 1990s, hitting an all-time high of 6,977 in 2007, according to EEOC data. (Blacks file nine out of 10 race harassment charges.) From fiscal 2000 to 2007, the EEOC received 51,000 racial harassment charge filings nationwide, already over the number received during the entire 1990s.
The big racial harassment payouts tend to get the headlines. Earlier this month, Lockheed Martin Corp. agreed to settle a case and pay $2.5 million to a black electrician who claimed he was harassed on a daily basis. He was threatened with lynching and once told: "If the South had won then this would be a better country."
But cases like this with smaller monetary penalties are numerous, although they may not get as much press coverage.
According to an EEOC lawsuit involving AK Steel settled last February, workers were allegedly subjected to Nazi symbols, nooses, KKK videos, and graffiti with messages to murder blacks. In January 2007, EEOC settled the racial harassment suit against the company for $600,000.
And in July 2006, Home Depot paid a $125,000 settlement in a suit that alleged, according to the EEOC, "that a black former night crew lumberman/forklift operator was subjected to a racially hostile work environment because management condoned racial remarks by his supervisors who called him ‘black dog,’ ‘black boy.’” One manager even was charged with stating "that the Supreme Court had found black people to be ‘inferior.’"
These over-the-top acts at major corporations, probably have you scratching your head wondering what ever happened to diversity training, the endless videos on race-relations etiquette and human resource departments hell bent on weeding out such behavior.
Despite all these efforts that expanded greatly in the 1990s, hatred and ignorance apparently remain alive and well. There are a host of reasons racial harassment is escalating, according to labor experts, everything from a struggling economy that has caused major job insecurity to more people of color in the workplace, and even some blame violent video games.
"Acts of violence and hate have been glorified in some video games and through the Internet, as well as being perpetuated in the news and entertainment media," says the EEOC’s Grinberg. "Therefore, some people may have become desensitized, almost to the point of becoming immune, to inhumane behavior that leads to racially hostile work environments."
But whatever the reason, the bottom line for a worker who experiences such hostility is they are often stuck between a rock and a hard place when such bias occurs. Reporting such behavior often leads to retaliation, an increase in the harassment, or years of litigation, as happened in the recent Lockheed Martin case and employee Charles Daniels.
“I endured it way too long,” says Daniels about the harassment he suffered at the hands of four coworkers and one supervisor. He made several complaints to management but was told by an HR manager, of all people, that “boys will be boys.”
While we think of cases of harassment typically hit the rank and file, some legal experts have seen an uptick in black managers being harassed. Judy Broach, an attorney who represents workers, says she’s seen many black managers quit their jobs in disgust because of harassment.
“I think there is now a sense that it’s OK to display some degree of racial insensitivity" that wasn't OK ten years ago, she adds, because many people wrongly think the time is over for special treatment because “blacks have achieved so much. Companies are relaxing standards and we’re sliding backwards.” [To read the entire article, go to:]