Wednesday, April 30, 2008

American Association for Affirmative Action Conference Highlights Policy Action Themes

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
by David Pluviose
Apr 30, 2008, 22:28

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Last week, the American Association for Affirmative Action held its 34th annual conference in the Washington, D.C., area in a bid to influence Capitol Hill policymakers during a pivotal election year. Diversity officers from governments, colleges and corporations heard from a number of prominent civil rights leaders including Urban League President Marc Morial, who said pressure to emphasize the importance of diversity must be brought to bear on whomever is elected president.
“Thinking very long and hard about what we want to see in the candidates — the one thing that is basic is that there must be a strong commitment to the enforcement of this nation’s civil rights laws,” Morial said.
He added that under the current administration, civil rights units of federal agencies have been stripped of their money and power, and “in some cases signals have been sent that these laws are not to be actively enforced.” Morial noted, “Populating the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division with people who are opposed to civil rights is an act of complete dishonor and disrespect. And I believe, fundamentally, that one of the most important commitments the next president can make, the next Congress can make — just enforce the rule of law.”
Also, Viola O. Baskerville, the secretary of administration for the state of Virginia and the second Black Cabinet official in Virginia’s history, emphasized the trailblazing diversity role of Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), a former civil rights attorney.
“His philosophy of inclusiveness and integration has carried over to this philosophy that the face of government should reflect those that it is responsible for. His Cabinet and senior leadership are the most diverse in Virginia’s history,” she said. “Women decide procurement and finance issues throughout the state; women decide appointments and health and policy issues of the state.”
In the most notable conference session focusing on higher education diversity initiatives, University of Michigan Associate Vice Provost John Matlock and UM Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives researcher Katrina Wade-Golden talked about the University of Michigan’s efforts to cope with the successful Ward Connery-backed campaign to ban affirmative action. Matlock and Wade-Golden highlighted results of a diversity survey of UM students who were undergraduates from 1990-1994.
A recent survey was sent to these students 10 years later to gauge the concrete benefits of having been part of a diverse group of UM undergraduates in the early ’90s. What UM researchers found were examples of concrete benefits like a doctor saying he would not have been able to relate as well with a diverse group of patients if the UM student body was as homogenously White in the ’90s as the neighborhood he grew up in.
Also, Matlock railed against affirmative action opponents who say awarding diversity points to male applicants to UM’s nursing program, for instance, will in effect cause a Black applicant to take the spot of a White applicant.
“At Michigan this year, we have 29,000 applications for 5,500 slots. Somebody’s not getting in,” Matlock said. He added that if UM didn’t accept any minority applicants, a White applicant’s chances “of getting in goes up about 1 percent. So it’s a fallacy to say ‘someone took my place.’ When you say somebody took my place, it’s one of the most arrogant statements that I’ve ever heard — you’re basically assuming that you were next in line, and anybody else is without merit.”
Also, Christine M. Griffin, commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, spoke eloquently and forcefully about the need to expand access to job opportunities for disabled Americans.
“There’s no reason for any employer, public or private, to shy away from having an affirmative action plan targeting workers with disabilities,” Griffin said. She added that in her experience having been disabled for 27 years, the workplace is where barriers to access for disabled Americans truly fall as they enter mainstream society.
For more information on the American Association for Affirmation Action, visit the organization of the Web at http://www.affirmativeaction.org/.
http://diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_11085.shtml

EEOC Commissioner Says Disabled Persons‘Forgotten’ Under Affirmative Action Plans

Bureau of National Affairs
Daily Labor Report
April 28, 2008
Page A-7

EEOC Commissioner Says Disabled Persons
‘Forgotten’ Under Affirmative Action Plans

In light of the 35th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the 18th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, EEOC Commissioner Christine M. Griffin said April 23 the federal government and private employers still need to improve their efforts to recruit individuals with disabilities. ‘‘Despite that amount of time, individuals with disabilities continue to live on the outside looking in,’’ Griffin told attendees at the annual conference of the
American Association of Affirmative Action. ‘‘I think that it’s fair to say that the disabled, as a whole, are a community that affirmative action has forgotten.’’ Both statutes, Griffin said, were intended to create a level playing field and to stop employers from making decisions based on disability. ‘‘That, quite frankly, has not happened,’’ she said. ‘‘You have to be employed to be really free in this country. People with disabilities are not free in this nation.’’

For instance, individuals who can manage their disabilities through medication—such as those with diabetes, cancer, or mental illness—may be denied Rehabilitation Act and ADA protection against discrimination because they are considered ‘‘too functional’’ to have a covered disability, she said. Additionally, Griffin said courts are more likely than not to throw out disability discrimination actions and, as a result, ‘‘there are no plaintiff’s attorneys taking these cases.’’

Griffin also addressed what she called a ‘‘misconception’’ about the legality of including persons with disabilities in employers’ affirmative action initiatives. ‘‘Anyone who believes that affirmative action for people with disabilities is illegal is misinformed,’’ Griffin said. ‘‘There is no reason for any employer to shy away from having an affirmative action plan for people
with disabilities.’’

BLS to Collect Data on the Disabled.
Although Griffin acknowledged the lack of consensus on the number of people with disabilities in the United States—one estimate is approximately 54 million—she noted that ‘‘more are joining their ranks everyday.’’ Of this population, she said approximately 30 million people are of
working age, half of whom suffer from severe disabilities such as blindness, deafness, or paralysis. The unemployment rate for individuals with severe disabilities is the ‘‘highest in the country,’’ Griffin said. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is expected to begin officially collecting unemployment statistics for persons with disabilities ‘‘later this year.’’
Griffin said the federal government needs to improve its efforts to hire persons with disabilities. The disabled, she said, represent only 0.94 percent of the federal workforce. ‘‘This represents a decline in the last 14 years—a time when the government expanded by about 5 percent." ‘‘I think it’s very important that the federal government be the model employer that it was supposed to be,’’ Griffin said, noting that EEOC launched the Leadership for the Employment of Americans with Disabilities initiative in 2006 to improve the hiring of individuals with disabilities in the federal government. ‘‘I do be-
lieve state governments should be looking at this as
well.’’
Improvement is also needed in the private sector, Griffin said. She suggested that employers consider implementing affirmative action plans for persons with disabilities.
With baby boomers entering retirement, Griffin said employers could face a shortfall of about 10 million employees in the future. ‘‘Where are you going to turn?’’ she asked.

Goals, Mandatory Reporting Suggested.
Additionally, she said employers should consider setting a goal to have disabled individuals comprise 2 percent of their workforce by 2010. ‘‘It’s not enough to say that no one ever applies,’’ Griffin said. ‘‘Find ways to reach out.’’ Griffin said she personally would like to see more
emphasis on requiring employers to report the number of people with disabilities in their workforces. ‘‘This is my opinion and not the opinion of the agency—I think
we should be collecting this information about disability status on the EEO-1 surveys,’’ she said.

Data on Minority Doctorates Suppressed

Inside Higher Education
April 24, 2008
Scott Jaschik

If you are conducting a faculty search, or trying to diversify the professoriate, or want to see whether various programs to do so have succeeded, the Survey of Earned Doctorates has always been a key source of information. They survey will tell you, for example, how many Latinos earned doctorates in chemistry (23 for the last year available), or how many black people earned doctorates in political science (34). If you watch the trends from year to year, and also pay attention to the total number of doctorates awarded (1,170 in chemistry to U.S. citizens, and 506 in political science), you have an instant sense of the changing or stagnant demographics of your pool.
Or at least you used to.
Citing privacy concerns, the National Science Foundation — which sponsors the survey — has ordered that data on subgroups beneath a certain size be blocked from release. So subgroups for which the numbers are small will no longer be available. So while we know that in 2005, six black people earned doctorates in earth, atmospheric and marine sciences, the NSF won’t reveal how many earned the degrees in 2006 (covered by the most recent report). Information about the number of Latinos earning degrees in some engineering fields is gone, as are data about a number of categories for black Ph.D.’s. For Native Americans, where the base is smaller, the impact of the new policy is especially dramatic. The report was stripped of information on how many doctorates were awarded to all but 6 of the 35 subfields for which data were collected.
Because most people who focus on the study are drawn to the overall trends, where data about various minority groups is preserved because of the larger sample sizes, the issue of the missing information is only now starting to receive attention. But advocates for increased diversity in graduate education and the professoriate are frustrated by the changes. They note that educational experts of many political perspectives agree that it’s hard to know how to tackle educational challenges without information about the performance of subgroups — that’s even one of the principles underpinning President Bush’s favorite education law, No Child Left Behind. So removing this information, advocates say, makes no sense. They add that debates about public policy would be informed by seeing these numbers in detail — and that the fact that the numbers are small is part of why they are important to consider.
“This hides information. It removes information,” said Andreen Neukranz-Butler, human rights compliance officer for the University of Idaho and a member of the board of the American Association for Affirmative Action. If a subgroup goes from two to four doctorates a year (or falls similarly), that’s important information, she said, and those working on these issues need to know it. [To read the entire story, go to: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/04/24/data ]

American Association for Affirmative Action Town Hall Meeting: Affirmative Action at the Crossroads

Fri Apr 25, 4:17 PM ET
To: POLITICAL EDITORS
Contact: Cindy Pena, +1-202-510-6365, Celinda@mayadc.com, for American Association for Affirmative Action
National Civil Rights and Affirmative Action Leaders Debate Race, Gender and Equal Opportunities in America at Howard University Law School

WASHINGTON, April 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following media advisory was issued today by the American Association of Affirmative Action:
Who: Chicago Tribune Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Clarence Page: moderator. Panelists include: comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory; political commentator Donna Brazile, United States Commission on Civil Rights Commissioner Michael Yaki; National Association of Hispanic Journalists board member Rafael Olmeda; political commentator Armstrong Williams, among others.
What: American Association for Affirmative Action Town Hall Meeting will openly discuss the state of affirmative action, and will attract opponents and supporters of the regulation. Discussion points include the performance of affirmative action, if there is a current need for affirmative action, and similarity and differences between diversity and affirmative action. This meeting is expected to be a charged event given the current political climate.
When: April 26, 2008, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Where: Howard University Law School, 2900 Van Ness Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008
Why: Despite efforts to achieve equality in education and jobs, the traditional indicators of inequality persist in unemployment rates and wealth measurements. High school dropout rates are astronomical for African Americans and Hispanics and school segregation persists throughout the nation. The 2008 presidential race has the most diverse contenders in our nations history, but a dialogue on race or gender has yet to begin in earnest.
About AAAA: Founded in 1974, the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA) is a national not-for-profit association of professionals working in the areas of affirmative action, equal opportunity, and diversity. AAAA helps its members to be more successful and productive in their careers. It also promotes understanding and advocacy of affirmative action to enhance access and equality in employment, economic and educational opportunities.
For more information, visit: http://www.affirmativeaction.org
SOURCE American Association for Affirmative Action
-0-http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnw/20080425/pl_usnw/american_association_for_affirmative_action_town_hall_meeting__affirmative_action_at_the_crossroads

SEXUAL HARASSMENT VERDICT UPHELD IN FAVOR OF EEOC AGAINST AG INDUSTRY GIANT HARRIS FARMS

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
April 25, 2008
Ninth Circuit Court Affirms Latina Farm Worker’s Jury Award of Over $1 Million

SAN FRANCISCO – The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the judgment on a jury verdict in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and farm worker Olivia Tamayo in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Coalinga, Calif.-based Harris Farms, one of the largest integrated farming operations in the Central San Joaquin Valley.
The appeal followed a trial where the jury found Harris Farms liable for sexual harassment, retaliation and constructive termination. Tamayo was awarded over $1,000,000, including attorney's fees for her private lawyer, on her federal and state law discrimination claims.
In its appeal, Harris Farms argued that the presiding judge (District Court Judge Anthony Ishii) admitted evidence at trial that should not have been presented to the jury and that the award of punitive damages was unsupported. Rejecting these arguments, the Ninth Circuit specifically noted that punitive damages were appropriate because of Harris Farms’ retaliatory tactics — including suspending Tamayo after she reported the harassment — to deter her from pursuing her complaint.
During a six-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Fresno, Tamayo, a Mexican immigrant who began picking crops for Harris Farms in the early 1980s, testified that her supervisor raped her on several occasions and threatened her with a gun or a knife to ensure her compliance. He also subjected her to repeated verbal sexual harassment and intimidation. In addition, she described sexually offensive and threatening gossip from co-workers, as well as retaliation; conditions finally became so intolerable that she was forced to resign.
On January 21, 2005, the jury reached their verdict against Harris Farms and awarded Tamayo $53,000 in back pay, $91,000 for front pay (what she would have earned if she had continued working at her job) and $350,000 in compensatory damages for emotional pain and distress. The jury also awarded $500,000 in punitive damages against Harris Farms to Tamayo. (The amount of the punitive damages was later reduced to $300,000 because of limits set by federal discrimination law.)
Since the jury’s verdict in 2005, Tamayo has been recognized by farm workers and advocacy organizations nationwide for her courage in standing up to her employer and reporting the sexual harassment and retaliation she suffered. Upon being informed of the Ninth Circuit’s decision, she said, “In the past years, I have talked to many farm worker women who did not know that they were protected from being abused in the fields. This decision is for everyone who thinks that it is useless to step forward.”
EEOC’s Regional Attorney William Tamayo (no relation to Olivia Tamayo) stated, “The Ninth Circuit agreed with the jury’s verdict: punitive damages were justified in light of the retaliation Mrs. Tamayo suffered. As an immigrant with limited education and limited English, she faced significant financial risks and social obstacles to speak out against harassment. In fact, her harasser threatened to kill her husband and otherwise harm her family. To come forward under these circumstances only to be met with further retaliation by Harris Farms is unjust and illegal.”
Michael Baldonado, acting directorof the EEOC’s San Francisco district, noted, “The EEOC is pleased that we are one step closer to providing Mrs. Tamayo with the relief that the jury awarded her. This is a major victory for farm workers nationwide and for the EEOC.”
Private counsel William Smith of Fresno, who joined with EEOC to represent Tamayo, said, “No matter how much an employee earns, what her duties are or how big the company is, that employee has a right to work without fear of harassment and retaliation. Harris Farms learned this lesson the hard way.”
The EEOC enforces the nation's laws in the private and federal sectors prohibiting employ­ment discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age and disability. Additional information about the EEOC is available on its web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/.

America's Job Bank (AJB) Service Center Closing June 30, 2008

Following the phase-out of America’s Job Bank (AJB) on July 1, 2007, the US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration continued to operate a service center to respond to inquiries from employers requiring assistance to comply with Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) reporting requirements. Reports will continue to be available until June 30, 2008 when the service center will cease operations. Federal Contractors who used AJB for the OFCCP recruitment activities are encouraged to request a comprehensive compliance report well before the service center ceases operation. Requests for reports should be sent to ajb@labor.state.ny.us
http://www.dol.gov/esa/ofccp/index.htm

Suit filed over Amendment 46

Rocky Mountain News
April 24, 2008
David Montero

A group analyzing thousands of signatures that qualified a November ballot measure backed by Ward Connerly filed a legal challenge claiming more than half are invalid.
Craig Hughes, spokesman for No on 46 campaign committee, said they used a broad screening to allow signatures to count based on misspellings or names that sound the same and still found about 69,000 signatures that they claim are not valid.
"We've taken an exhaustive review of all of the signatures Connerly submitted and we found it replete with mistakes, errors and ignoring the law," Hughes said.
The ballot measure, Amendment 46, was the first to qualify for the November ballot when the Colorado secretary of state certified it March 24 using a random sampling of signatures and declaring enough were valid to meet the legal threshold of 76,047 to qualify.
However, with the legal challenge that will be heard in Denver District Court, if the anti-Amendment 46 group can prove its claim that 69,000 are ineligible, it would be taken off the November ballot.
Hughes said the problems with the signatures include more than 4,000 duplicate signatures and almost 7,000 signatures were affected because signature gatherers were not Colorado residents — a legal requirement in the state to collect signatures.
Amendment 46 has been under fire ever since Connerly arrived in Colorado last year to begin the signature gathering process. Connerly said the measure mirrors the language of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and would end discrimination in government.
But opponents argue it doesn't follow the spirit of the law and that it would dismantle affirmative action programs.
A separate challenge has also been filed against the amendment's backers, claiming Connerly's signature gatherers engaged in misleading practices to collect signatures. [To read the entire story, go to: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/apr/24/suit-filed-over-amendment-46/]

Top court's unfair play against fair play

Chicago Tribune
Clarence Page
April 27, 2008

Lilly Ledbetter worked in a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden, Ala., for 19 years before she received a valuable tip from an anonymous source: She was making $6,500 less than the lowest-paid guy who had her job.She did what anybody might do. She sued. She was in for a surprise. So were a lot of civil rights experts. If any cases were intended to be covered by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, they thought, it was cases like hers.Indeed, even the women I know who are hesitant feminists, the middle-of-the-road womenfolk who insist, "I'm not a feminist, but . . ." usually tend to follow that "but" with, "I believe that women should receive equal pay for equal work."But after Ledbetter's case made it all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court last year, the high court ruled 5-4 that the law did not apply to her. She was too late. She should have filed her complaint years earlier when the original discrimination occurred.Indeed? As a legal matter, the decision was defensible, but as a practical matter it was inexcusable. One might even call it judicial activism, tilting a law intended to protect workers against discrimination into one that gives a big edge to employers who discriminate.The law said she had to file her discrimination complaint within 180 days of the alleged unlawful discrimination. The surprise came with the Supreme Court's interpretation of when the clock is supposed to start on that 180 days. Since the 1960s, nine federal circuit courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had ruled that the 180-day clock started—or restarted—every time the employee received an unequal paycheck. After all, it was reasoned, every unequal check is an illegal act of discrimination. But imagine Ledbetter's surprise when the high court ruled that, no, the 180-day statute of limitations began with her very first discriminatory paycheck almost 20 years earlier. In other words, if employers manage to discriminate against workers for at least 180 days without getting caught, they're home free, exempt from discrimination lawsuits.In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called on Congress to step in with new legislation to clarify and restore the intent of the original civil rights act. A bill to do just that was named after Ledbetter and passed the House last year. But the Senate version failed last week to win enough support to survive a threatened veto by President Bush. [To view the entire story, go to: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/chi-oped0427pageapr27,1,5676597.column ]

Former Instructor Threatens to Sue Dartmouth and Some Students for Discrimination

Chronicle of Higher Education
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
By Jennifer Howard

A former Dartmouth College faculty member is weighing a possible civil-rights lawsuit against the college, Dartmouth Medical School, and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Dartmouth undergraduates may also be named in a possible complaint by Priya Venkatesan, a former research associate at the medical school and a lecturer in Dartmouth's writing program. She told The Chronicle that she was subjected to "inappropriate, unprofessional behavior" that qualified as "discrimination and harassment" under Title VII of federal anti-discrimination law.
In an interview, Ms. Venkatesan described a history of "abusive statements" and "exploitative behavior" by supervisors and colleagues. That pattern of "hostility, anti-intellectualism, and very demeaning behavior," she said, even extended to the classroom.
In response to reports in the university's student newspaper, on the blog Gawker, and elsewhere, Dartmouth's general counsel released a brief statement that asserted that Ms. Venkatesan's claims were without merit.
Classroom Conflict
Ms. Venkatesan, who has a Ph.D. in literature from the University of California at San Diego and a master of science in genetics from the University of California at Davis, specializes in the intersection of science and literature.
She told The Chronicle that in an undergraduate writing-program class on science, technology, and society, she encountered "abrasiveness, rudeness, diatribish responses" from some of her students. A discussion of postmodernism drew especially hostile reactions.
"It really offended their sensibilities," she said. "But there are ways of mediating that response."
She wound up canceling class for a week on doctor's orders, she said.
Ms. Venkatesan was once a Dartmouth undergraduate herself; she's a member of the Class of 1990. She speculated that ethnicity and gender played a role in her alleged treatment at Dartmouth as a faculty member. Her three years as an instructor were "a sour experience," she said. "I didn't have to go through what I went through." [To see the entire story, go to: http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/04/2674n.htm?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en ]

Ethnic Profiling Alleged at Georgetown

Inside Higher Ed
April 30, 2008

A graduate student filed suit against Georgetown University on Tuesday, alleging discrimination and unlawful search and seizure when campus police detained him while he was attending a friend’s graduation ceremony last year. Two months later, the university issued a report responding to the student’s initial complaint stating that the officers had followed proper policies.
The student, Kambiz Fattahi, is in his final year at Georgetown’s graduate security studies program while also working for the BBC’s Persian Service, according to the complaint. After the incident in May, Fattahi wrote a first-person piece that appeared on the BBC News Web site describing the sequence of events. “I was there to support a graduating classmate. Sitting in the front row among proud parents, family and friends of graduating students, I was captivated” by the words of Bernard Bailyn, the Harvard historian giving the commencement address, he wrote.
“Nations and people do have dominant characteristics, and it’s a good time, a necessary time, to think briefly about our own essential characteristics. What others think about us, how we see ourselves, and how we actually are, matters,” Fattahi quoted the professor as saying. But, he wrote, “the sense of awe did not last long. Two portly university security guards brought me back to reality.
“‘Please come with us,’ one of them ordered. He caught me off guard. When I asked why, he told me, ‘You’re making some people here nervous.’”
“It was disturbing to think that nothing more than my Middle Eastern appearance had aroused someone’s suspicion. More shocking was the blunt inquiry of one of the guards about my national origin,” he continued; he was born in Iran and holds dual Iranian and American citizenship. “After showing forms of identification, including my card from the BBC Persian Service, he commented: ‘So, you’re from Persia. Aren’t Babylon and the Tigris River in Persia?’” (They are in Iraq; Persia refers to present-day Iran.)
He wrote at the time: “Officials at Georgetown say they have strict policies prohibiting racial and ethnic profiling, and have begun an investigation into the matter.” That investigation resulted in a report backing the officers — who deny that they mentioned Babylon or the Tigris River — and stating that the questions on national origin were intended to “see if he needed a translator,” the lawsuit said. Fattahi speaks fluent English.
“Georgetown officials took these allegations very seriously and immediately began a review of the matter. The incident was fully investigated by the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action (IDEAA), with input and cooperation from the complaining individual,” says a statement on Georgetown’s Web site dating back to August 2007. “... The investigation determined that Georgetown University’s Department of Public Safety officers responded in an appropriately calibrated way to reports from an audience member that an individual was behaving in a suspicious manner during the commencement ceremony on May 18. In response to that information, and given the heightened security status on campus at that time, officers responded by taking appropriate and necessary steps to engage and to request identification from the individual.” [To see the entire story, go to: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/04/30/profiling ]

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Employment Law Bill Stalls in Senate

Workforce Management
April 24, 2008
Employment Law Bill Stalls in Senate

A bill that would make it easier for workers to sue employers for pay discrimination stalled in the Senate on Wednesday night, April 23—adding to the list of labor law measures that Democrats will pursue again in the next Congress.
The measure fell three votes short of the 60 required under Senate rules to overcome a filibuster led by the chamber's Republicans.
Opponents argued that the bill would effectively eliminate the statute of limitations on pay discrimination cases and subject businesses to stale claims. The White House issued a veto threat before the Senate action.
Supporters mounted a fierce campaign to win over the handful of votes they needed to approve a final vote on the measure. They said the bill would bolster women and minorities in the workplace by overturning a Supreme Court ruling last year that held that pay suits had to be filed within 180 days of a discriminatory action, even if that action continues to diminish pay for years.
Under the bill, workers would be allowed to sue within 180 days of any paycheck affected by discrimination.
The bill passed the House last summer. Proponents vowed to continue to fight for Senate approval, although that is not likely to happen this year.
The Senate bill was placed on the calendar without a vote by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which Kennedy chairs. One reason that the level of support can’t be determined is that many senators aren’t yet familiar with the bill.
An advocate for the measure says it was being pushed forward because the number of legislative days remaining in the Senate is limited and because courts are dismissing pay suits based on the Supreme Court ruling.
Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, asserts the bill would have made the statute of limitations work in the way Congress intended. She and other supporters say the Supreme Court erred in its decision in the case of Lilly Ledbetter, a former floor manager at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden, Alabama.
Ledbetter, who started with Goodyear in 1979, claims the company paid her less than it did male co-workers for the same job over the course of her nearly 20-year tenure. When she retired, Ledbetter was paid $3,727 per month, while the lowest-paid male manager received $4,286.
Ledbetter filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 1998—after she got an anonymous tip about the pay disparity. A jury ruled in favor of Ledbetter, awarding her back pay and $3 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
But the Supreme Court held that Goodyear was not liable because Ledbetter did not take action within 180 days of the first instance of discrimination.
In a scorching dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the court majority failed to understand the realities of today’s workplace—where pay information is secret and evidence of discrimination builds up over long periods of time. She challenged Congress to clarify the federal statute of limitations.
Greenberger said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and appeals courts had been agreeing on the issue—until the 11th Circuit overturned the Ledbetter trial jury ruling and the Supreme Court concurred.
“This was never a problem that the employer community railed against,” she said.
But at House and Senate hearings, employment lawyers have opposed the bill. [To see the entire article, go to: http://www.workforce.com/section/00/article/25/48/75.html ]

Affirmative Action Standoff Continues

The Washington Afro
By James Wright
AFRO Staff Writer
April 2008

The issue of affirmative action was raised in last week’s debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and is likely to continue as a contentious public policy issue, experts on both sides of the issue say.
“Affirmative action is a helpful tool for businesses, government and schools to integrate its workforce and student body,” said Hilary Shelton, Washington bureau chief for the NAACP. “We do not want to go back to segregation.”
Affirmative action was created precisely because people of color and women have been specifically excluded from opportunities in higher education, employment and government contracting.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights defines affirmative action as "a contemporary term that encompasses any measure, beyond simple termination of a discriminatory practice, which permits the consideration of race, national origin, sex and disability, along with other criteria, and which is adopted to provide opportunities to a class of qualified individuals who have either historically or actually been denied those opportunities, and to prevent the reoccurrence of discrimination in the future."
While affirmative action has been credited with expanding the Black middle class, it has come under increasing attacks by conservatives, including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Ward Connerly, who is leading a national campaign to eliminate affirmative action.
Connerly, a Black California businessman, is the founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute. He opposes affirmative action as being reverse discrimination.
Spporters of affirmative action accuse Connerly of failing to realize that in all aspect of society, people of color and women are still underrepresented.Shirley Wilcher, the executive director of the American Association for Affirmative Action, said that the work of her organization is more critical than ever.
" The goal was not to give Blacks and others automatic advantages but to level the playing field. The playing field is not level and that is why we need affirmative action now.”
According to the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, although White men make up just 48 percent of the college-educated workforce, they hold 85 percent of the tenured college faculty positions, 86 percent of law firm partnerships, more than 90 percent of the top jobs in the news media, and 96 percent of CEO positions.
The Supreme Court, ruling on two University of Michigan cases, struck down a numbers-oriented undergraduate admissions program but upheld the concept of affirmative action as practiced by the law school.
Shelton of the NAACP, said, “It is under constant attack because you have conservative forces who want to take it apart. The courts have made it clear that they believe that race is still a compelling factor in various aspects of employment, admissions and contracts. It is still standing.”
Led by Connerly, California, Washington state and Michigan have passed ballot initiatives outlawing affirmative action. Efforts are underway to place a similar measure on the ballots in November in five states: Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Critics say Connerly has been successful because he has helped draft language that is confusing to voters, misleading them into thinking they are voting for pro-affirmative action measures.
Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, said that Connerly is aligning himself with ultra-conservatives to get rid of affirmative action in the various states. She said that fueling this anxiety about affirmative action is the general condition of the country.
“Whites are feeling threatened by the possibility of a recession and economic insecurity,” she said. “When that is happening, Whites are more receptive of a message that talks about reverse discrimination.”
Luke Harris, a political science professor at Vassar College, said that Connerly is being used to deceive the people. He said that Connerly is the “Black face” of the right wing effort and is paid very well for it.
He said that when Michigan was considering the anti-affirmative initiative, Connerly would go into Black churches and say it was a good thing for Blacks to support.
“We had to re-educate people about what was really going,” Harris said. But that was enough because the ban on affirmative action passed in Michigan.Harris said that White opposition to affirmative action has taken on an interesting element.
“If you look at who voted against affirmative action in the states, you will see that it is mainly White women,” he said. “That is odd because studies have consistently shown that White women are the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action.”
The issue continues to be discussed around the country.
A major conference on the topic is taking place in Falls Church, Va., at the Fairview Marriott this week and a town hall meeting will be held on April 26 at the Howard University School of Law Moot Courtroom. It is being sponsored by the American Association of Affirmative Action, an organization that promotes and trains government and corporate leaders on the subject.
Speakers at the conference will include former NAACP Legal Defense Fund Director-Counsel Theodore Shaw, National Urban League President Marc Morial and Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Posthumous honors will be presented to U.S. Representatives Augustus Hawkins and Parren Mitchell.
Participants in the town hall meeting include Democratic Party strategist Donna Brazile; conservative commentator Armstrong Williams; comedian/activist Dick Gregory; and Dr. Julia Hare, a scholar on Black issues. [To read the entire story, go to: http://beta.afro.com/tabid/72/itemid/759/modid/1076/Affirmative-Action-Standoff-Continues.aspx ]

Senate Passes Ban on Genetic Discrimination

The Senate voted Thursday, April 24, to ban insurers and others from basing health care coverage on genetic information.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, S. 358, prohibits group health plans or issuers of individual health care policies from basing eligibility determinations or adjusting premiums or contributions on the basis of genetic information. The measure bans health plans and insurers from requesting, requiring or purchasing the results of genetic tests and from disclosing genetic information.
The bill prohibits employers from firing, refusing to hire or otherwise discriminating against workers with respect to compensation and other terms of employment on the basis of genetic information. Like insurers, employers are banned from requesting, requiring or buying genetic information. [To see the entire article, go to: http://www.workforce.com/section/00/article/25/49/63.html ]

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Multilingual workplace can translate into opportunities

The Boston Globe
By Maggie Jackson April 20, 2008

Hola, America, we're going global, pronto.
By the watercooler, in the boardroom, around the cafeteria, a new multilingualism is burgeoning, sparked by a swelling immigrant population and our deepening ties to the world economy. Nearly 20 percent of Americans over age 5 speak a language other than English at home, up from 14 percent in 1990. That means say "hola" - hello - to a rising linguistic diversity that is spilling into the workplace "pronto" - or right now.
Yet when workplaces begin to sound like mini-United Nations, much can get lost in the translation. Co-workers can feel excluded when others chat in a different language. Managers must balance a bottom-line need for workers to speak English to get the job done with a growing demand for language skills. And workers with scant English struggle at home and work to cope with routine tasks, from attending a school meeting to reading a medical bill. The result: a cacophony of work-life needs and wants.
Try managing 300 workers who speak more than 30 languages. At Tufts Medical Center, Nora Moynihan Blake directs a housekeeping staff that sometimes can't speak to one another or give directions to a lost visitor. Most are hard-working immigrants whose careers often stall for lack of English fluency, says Blake.
"When I met with the employees to introduce myself, I realized almost immediately that a lot didn't understand what I was saying," says Blake, director of hospitality services. "You can have misunderstandings between patients and visitors and employees."
Her solution? Bring school to work. With crucial support from hospital executives, Blake helped partner with Boston's Asian American Civic Association last fall to start on-site English and high school equivalency classes for hospitality staff. With 35 enrolled and a growing wait list, Blake already sees gains as workers gain confidence - and a voice. "It's huge," she says. "They're talking more to be heard."
The Tufts program is unusual. While 80 percent of companies employ workers whose deficiencies in English limit their ability to perform their jobs, only about a third provide remedial language training, and then mostly if a worker asks for help, according to a 2007 Conference Board survey of 70 senior corporate directors of training. "For a lot of companies, it's a reactive rather than a proactive approach," says researcher Chris Woock.
Legally, employers can require that a worker speak English on the job - if there's a sound business reason, such as needing to deal with customers or dangerous machinery. However, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discourages blanket English-only policies, especially those that try to restrict a worker's ability to speak the language of their choice during breaks or personal time. As the country diversifies, the "English-only" issue is fast becoming a political battleground.
A particularly high-voltage case erupted last spring with a federal lawsuit against the Salvation Army for firing two Framingham-based workers who spoke mostly Spanish at work. The government contends the two back-room workers didn't need to speak English. In response to the suit, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, has introduced legislation to protect companies that enforce English-only laws.
Cases related to language or accent make up a tiny fraction of the EEOC's work. Last year, the government filed a handful of lawsuits involving such issues and received 306 charges or formal accusations against employers, says David Grinberg, an EEOC spokesman. But it's likely that many cases go unreported because immigrants are afraid to speak out, he stresses.
[To view the entire article, go to: By Maggie Jackson April 20, 2008
Hola, America, we're going global, pronto.
By the watercooler, in the boardroom, around the cafeteria, a new multilingualism is burgeoning, sparked by a swelling immigrant population and our deepening ties to the world economy. Nearly 20 percent of Americans over age 5 speak a language other than English at home, up from 14 percent in 1990. That means say "hola" - hello - to a rising linguistic diversity that is spilling into the workplace "pronto" - or right now.
Yet when workplaces begin to sound like mini-United Nations, much can get lost in the translation. Co-workers can feel excluded when others chat in a different language. Managers must balance a bottom-line need for workers to speak English to get the job done with a growing demand for language skills. And workers with scant English struggle at home and work to cope with routine tasks, from attending a school meeting to reading a medical bill. The result: a cacophony of work-life needs and wants.
Try managing 300 workers who speak more than 30 languages. At Tufts Medical Center, Nora Moynihan Blake directs a housekeeping staff that sometimes can't speak to one another or give directions to a lost visitor. Most are hard-working immigrants whose careers often stall for lack of English fluency, says Blake.
"When I met with the employees to introduce myself, I realized almost immediately that a lot didn't understand what I was saying," says Blake, director of hospitality services. "You can have misunderstandings between patients and visitors and employees."
Her solution? Bring school to work. With crucial support from hospital executives, Blake helped partner with Boston's Asian American Civic Association last fall to start on-site English and high school equivalency classes for hospitality staff. With 35 enrolled and a growing wait list, Blake already sees gains as workers gain confidence - and a voice. "It's huge," she says. "They're talking more to be heard."
The Tufts program is unusual. While 80 percent of companies employ workers whose deficiencies in English limit their ability to perform their jobs, only about a third provide remedial language training, and then mostly if a worker asks for help, according to a 2007 Conference Board survey of 70 senior corporate directors of training. "For a lot of companies, it's a reactive rather than a proactive approach," says researcher Chris Woock.
Legally, employers can require that a worker speak English on the job - if there's a sound business reason, such as needing to deal with customers or dangerous machinery. However, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discourages blanket English-only policies, especially those that try to restrict a worker's ability to speak the language of their choice during breaks or personal time. As the country diversifies, the "English-only" issue is fast becoming a political battleground.
A particularly high-voltage case erupted last spring with a federal lawsuit against the Salvation Army for firing two Framingham-based workers who spoke mostly Spanish at work. The government contends the two back-room workers didn't need to speak English. In response to the suit, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, has introduced legislation to protect companies that enforce English-only laws.
Cases related to language or accent make up a tiny fraction of the EEOC's work. Last year, the government filed a handful of lawsuits involving such issues and received 306 charges or formal accusations against employers, says David Grinberg, an EEOC spokesman. But it's likely that many cases go unreported because immigrants are afraid to speak out, he stresses. [To view the entire article, go to: http://www.boston.com/jobs/news/articles/2008/04/20/multilingual_workplace_can_translate_into_opportunities/]

Friday, April 18, 2008

Plan targets anti-Western lessons

The Arizona Republic
April 18, 2008
Some fear loss of diversity in lawmaker's education proposal

Matthew BensonThe Arizona RepublicApr. 17, 2008 12:00 AM
Arizona public schools would be barred from any teachings considered counter to democracy or Western civilization under a proposal endorsed Wednesday by a legislative panel.Additionally, the measure would prohibit students of the state's universities and community colleges from forming groups based in whole or part on the race of their members, such as the Black Business Students Association at Arizona State University or Native Americans United at Northern Arizona University. Those groups would be forbidden from operating on campus.The brainchild of Rep. Russell Pearce, the measure appeared as an amendment to Senate Bill 1108, which originally would have made minor changes to the state's Homeland Security advisory councils. The House Appropriations Committee approved the new proposal on a 9-6 vote.
Pearce, a Mesa Republican, said his target isn't diversity instruction, but schools that use taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate students in what he characterized as anti-American or seditious thinking. The measure is at least partially a response to a controversy surrounding an ethnic-studies program in the Tucson Unified School District, which critics have said is unpatriotic and teaches revolution.SB 1108 states, "A primary purpose of public education is to inculcate values of American citizenship. Public tax dollars used in public schools should not be used to denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization."For schools that violate the anti-Western-teachings provision, the bill provides the state superintendent of public instruction with the authority to withhold a portion of state funding.Rep. John Kavanagh, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said he hopes the measure helps return cultural studies in the state's schools to a "melting pot" model."This bill basically says, 'You're here. Adopt American values,' " said Kavanagh, a Fountain Hills Republican. "If you want a different culture, then fine, go back to that culture."But Democratic committee members complained that the measure is overly vague, failing to define what constitutes teachings that "disparage or overtly encourage dissent from the values of democracy and Western civilization."The result, said Rep. Pete Rios, would likely be a chilling effect on public instruction regarding diversity and other cultures."There's nothing wrong with being bilingual, bicultural," said Rios, a Hayden Democrat. "I like Mexican music. I like Elvis Presley. I'm bicultural. What's wrong with that? I think kids, students, need to learn about their culture." http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0417unamerican0417.html#

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stopping Hiring Bias Interview Questions

Workforce.com

How Do We Stop the Interview Bias of Hiring Managers?
We recently learned that, when interviewing candidates, some hiring managers are biased against people who have an accent. How do I convince them that this biased attitude affects our commitment to hiring a diverse workforce that is reflective of our community at large?
—At Odds, HR generalist, textiles, Vancouver, Washington

The short answer to your question is to show them research that supports the idea that diversity significantly contributes to an organization's competitive advantage. Examples of companies such as Toyota may help. Once they see the benefit for them and their organization, their paradigm may begin to shift.
The somewhat longer answer: The ability of an organization to commit to hiring a diverse workforce is challenging for a number of reasons. First, there are only so many positions available for a qualified pool of people to hire. Second, people within the organization might not be committed in full to hire a diverse workforce. Third, the organization itself may not have systems in place to engage a diverse workforce. To get everyone on board with having a diverse workforce, try the following strategies to get people thinking in new and creative ways:
Analysis First: It's important to take a look at the organization itself to understand its relationship with diversity. This means a closer look must be taken at the organization's policies, procedures, hiring strategies, orientation, training, performance appraisal system, goals, mission and values. Do these structures support or inhibit diversity?
Understand Diversity: Many times, "you don't know what you don't know," as the saying goes. In other words, some people haven't been exposed to diversity issues, challenges and opportunities. Improvement can be made by having "brown bag lunch talks" in which diversity is the featured topic. A seminar on the competitive advantages of diversity also might be worthwhile for all your employees.
Senior Leaders/Diversity Champions: The senior leadership needs to talk about diversity in a public setting. Employees need to hear from the top that diversity is important. And, when leadership positions are being hired for, hiring managers must do their part to seek diverse candidates. Also, special attention must be paid to "diversity champions": those who get it and want to do something about it. These are the folks who can act as catalysts to get others excited about diversity.
Orientation and Training: Diversity must be a keynote topic during orientation and throughout training. The more people hear about diversity, the more opportunities they will have to look at what it means to them and their department or program. For hiring managers, this implies being more open when hearing a person with an accent. Instead of shutting the person off, it instead implies keeping an open mind and working to discover the individual's unique strengths.
Institutionalizing Diversity: It's one thing to talk about diversity. It's quite another thing to have a systematic approach for embracing it. Institutionalization comes down to proactively discovering ways to integrate diversity within the organizational culture. For instance, diversity might be integrated into the organization's training program, where people learn more about diversity. Diversity could also become an organizational value, where people discover ways to bring the value to life and create a diverse work environment.
Moving Diversity Forward: All organizations seek to improve in some way. By embracing diversity, an organization can significantly improve by gaining new perspectives and insights. The key is to look at diversity as a way to grow the organization and take it to the next level. The more positive outcomes that are achieved with diversity, the more diversity gets branded as a positive employee experience. The "diversity experience" will begin to take on a life of its own with proper maintenance and dedication.
Branch Out: Organizations often put their public relations and/or public affairs departments in charge of projects of social responsibility. This is another way for organizations to learn about a community's diversity assets. Not only could organizations contribute to their communities, but they can also team up with diverse individuals, who might one day be an employee, customer, vendor or board member.
SOURCE: Dana E. Jarvis is human resources director for Auberle and an adjunct professor at Duquesne University, where he teaches, among other courses, diversity and ethics.
LEARN MORE: A successful diversity effort creates a culture in which people of various backgrounds are happy, productive and successful.

EEOC PARTNERS WITH MEMPHIS CEOs TO ADDRESS RACE AND COLOR BIAS ISSUES

E-RACE Initiative Offers New Approach to Combating Job Bias, Promoting Voluntary Compliance
April 11, 2008

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Naomi C. Earp, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and EEOC Commissioner Stuart J. Ishimaru, today met with Memphis area business leaders to discuss the agency’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.
During the meeting, held at the National Civil Rights Museum, the EEOC engaged in an open dialogue with employers to discuss the imperative of E-RACE. Chair Earp explained E-RACE and what prompted its implementation, as well as the critically important role of CEOs and other business leaders in achieving equal employment opportunity.
“While we’ve come a long way, the unfortunate reality is that race and color bias continues to plague America’s labor market – both in old and familiar ways, and in new and more subtle forms,” Chair Earp said. “Equal employment opportunity must be part and parcel of a company's business strategy, with visible commitment from the company’s highest levels, management accountability, and proactive prevention.”
Joining Chair Earp and Commissioner Ishimaru in addressing attendees were Dr. Brian Nosek of Project Implicit and Professor Joni Hersch of Vanderbilt University. Dr. Nosek demonstrated the work of Project Implicit and presented information on the importance of understanding the role of hidden and subtle bias. Dr. Hersch presented information from her study that revealed the impact of skin color on earning power.
EEOC’s partners in planning this event included Buckeye Technologies®; Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, Inc.®; International Paper Co., Inc®; the Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce; the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz; and The National Civil Rights Museum.
Katharine Kores, director of EEOC’s Memphis District, which covers Tennessee, Arkansas, and the northern 17 counties of Mississippi, said today’s meeting was an important event for the region: “I applaud our business community partners in helping to plan this E-RACE event and make it a success. It is an important first step in what I hope will be a broader partnership with the employer community to stop race and color discrimination before it starts, which is the ultimate goal of Title VII of the landmark Civil Rights Act.”
Race discrimination accounts for the most frequently filed charge with the EEOC, a historical trend. In Fiscal Year 2007, the EEOC received 30,510 race discrimination charge filings (37% of the agency’s private sector caseload), up 12% from the prior year to the highest level in more than a decade.
Further information related to the E-RACE Initiative, including the agency’s updated Compliance Manual Section on Race and Color Discrimination, is available on the EEOC’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/initiatives/e-race/index.html. Additional information about the Commission can be found online at http://www.eeoc.gov/.

Obama and Clinton on Affirmative Action

Inside Higher Education
April 17, 2008

Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton expressed support for affirmative action in higher education in their Pennsylvania primary debate Wednesday night, but with broader definitions of who should benefit. Obama reiterated his view that economic factors — not just race and ethnicity — should count. Obama said that “the basic principle that should guide discussions not just on affirmative action but how we are admitting young people to college generally is, how do we make sure that we’re providing ladders of opportunity for people?” Asked about minority children like his own, who grow up in relatively advantaged circumstances, Obama said: “So if they look at my child and they say, you know, Malia and Sasha, they’ve had a pretty good deal, then that shouldn’t be factored in. On the other hand, if there’s a young white person who has been working hard, struggling, and has overcome great odds, that’s something that should be taken into account. So I still believe in affirmative action as a means of overcoming both historic and potentially current discrimination, but I think that it can’t be a quota system and it can’t be something that is simply applied without looking at the whole person, whether that person is black or white or Hispanic, male or female.” Clinton, asked if she supported such a view, said: “I think we’ve got to have affirmative action generally to try to give more opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds — whoever they are.” But she then shifted away from affirmative action to list of her education positions. “That’s why I’m a strong supporter of early childhood education and universal pre-kindergarten,” Clinton said. “That’s why I’m against No Child Left Behind as it is currently operating.... That’s why I’m in favor of much more college aid, not these outrageous predatory student loan rates that are charging people I’ve met, across Pennsylvania, 20, 25, 28 percent interest rates. Let’s make college affordable again. See, I think we have to look at what we’re trying to achieve here somewhat differently. We do have a real gap. We have a gap in achievement. We have a gap in income. But we don’t have a potential gap.” http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/04/17/qt

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Preference for Deception

Ward Connerly steals the language of civil rights to halt affirmative action

Ms. Magazine
FEATURE winter 2008
By Kimberle Crenshaw
RUTHIE STEVENSON WAS ON HER WAY TO THE POST OFFICE IN Mt. Clemens, Mich., when she was asked to sign a petition to “make civil rights fairer for everybody.” The circulator named the president of the local NAACP as a supporter. This would have been surprising, since the petition—known euphemistically as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative—sought to amend the Michigan constitution to eliminate all affirmative-action programs in the state. Moreover, Stevenson knew firsthand that fraud was afoot: She was the president of the local NAACP, and had certainly never lent her support.
Unfortunately, Stevenson was far from the only Michigan voter to have encountered trickery and deception in Ward Connerly’s campaign to eliminate affirmative action. Hundreds of Michigan citizens, disproportionately African American, testified before the Michigan Civil Rights Commission and later in federal district court that Connerly’s canvassers lied or otherwise misled them to secure their signatures.
The federal district court judge denounced what it called voter fraud, but ruled that the effort deceived blacks and whites equally, and thus did not violate the Voting Rights Act. The court noted, however, “If the proposal eventually passes, it will be stained by well-documented acts of fraud and deception that the defendants, as a matter of fact, have not credibly denied.” The proposal did pass, in November of 2006. Michigan thus becomes the third state to ratify such an initiative, with all three long and divisive campaigns fronted by Connerly. Yet the stain predicted by the court is barely visible to those who haven’t witnessed the seamy underbelly of his supposedly highbrow efforts.
The most audacious dimension of Connerly’s masquerade, which he now hopes to replicate in five other states in November, is his use of the language of civil rights as the Trojan horse to roll his reactionary agenda into the center of American politics. By selectively sampling from its martyr, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Connerly has appropriated the terminology, symbolism and moral authority of the civil rights movement to undo some of its most important victories. The millions of U.S. citizens who are primed to affirm any proposal framed as advancing civil rights are precisely those most at risk of being tricked into voting against their own interests. Women and black people were denied the vote in the past; today, they are deceived out of their votes.
Connerly’s Civil Rights Initiative (CRI) campaigns use purposefully deceptive language to confuse some voters into repudiating policies they might otherwise support. Virtually all his campaigns purport to ban “discrimination and preference” on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. Even those who read the language of his initiatives with caution will not necessarily recognize a ban on discrimination or preference as a vote to end affirmative action.
For many voters, “preference” does not equate with affirmative action. Instead, it captures the bevy of rewards afforded to those who have been historically advantaged in American society through nepotism, old-boy networks and discriminatory enclaves. These and other exclusionary practices function as built-in preferences that funnel a disproportionate share of resources and opportunities to whites and to men.
Voters who understand that dynamic may thus interpret preference as a way of describing discrimination—and thus a vote for a CRI is a vote against entrenched and systemic exclusion. Probably tens of thousands of voters in Michigan, and previously in Washington and California, voted for Connerly’s initiatives in error. The obvious solution is for voters to be presented with clear language indicating that the real purpose of the initiatives is to eliminate affirmative- action programs for women and people of color.
But Connerly has repeatedly rejected this simple solution. Despite his claims that the majority of Americans stand with him, he has refused to use plain language, instead obscuring the real purpose of these initiatives. And it’s obvious why: As early as 1992, the distinguished pollster Louis Harris discovered discovered that while Americans overwhelmingly oppose “racial preference,” a clear majority support “affirmative action.” For some Americans, the words “racial preference” trigger images of rigid quotas, reverse discrimination and unqualified minorities, while “affirmative action” has come to mean increasing opportunities for members of excluded or underrepresented groups. Harris thus concluded that how the question is worded on this issue is highly significant.
In fact, when the city of Houston changed the wording of a Connerly initiative in that city to pose a direct question to voters about whether affirmative-action policies should be banned, the initiative lost. But when elected officials and courts allowed him to use his deceptive language in California and Washington, the initiatives passed.
So Connerly has fought hard to ensure that his initiatives reach the ballot only with the deceptive language of “discrimination and preference.” But at least in Missouri, one of the five states Connerly has targeted for a “Super Tuesday” CRI campaign, the tables have been turned. The secretary of state wrote a ballot summary that clarified the initiative’s objective of eliminating affirmative action. Predictably, Connerly’s team has filed suit, claiming that the term is “ambiguous, overinclusive and value-laden.”
While it is true that “affirmative action” is subject to competing interpretations, most voters understand that it refers to some form of race- or gender-targeted programs. And Connerly knows that the majority of Americans support a whole host of such programs—particularly those that offer development, mentoring and outreach for women, girls and people of color. Yet when the ban on “preferences” passes, emboldened critics wield the CRI as a weapon to bludgeon all affirmative-action programs. Thus, programs requiring contractors to verify outreach efforts to womenand minority-owned businesses, or race- or gendertargeted health screening programs, or even domesticviolence shelters have all been subject to a CRI assault.
Since women are a sizable, multiracial, multigenerational and cross-class bloc of voters, their collective political muscle could stop Connerly’s initiatives in their tracks. Moreover, women are not simply potential allies in the struggle to maintain affirmative action; they are its principal beneficiaries. Affirmative action has helped integrate them into all sectors of the American economy. From police and fire departments to courtrooms and boardrooms, affirmative action has opened doors of opportunity for women to enter.
Yet the women’s vote, as it turns out, is no silver bullet of a solution. While women of color oppose Connerly overwhelmingly, white women in all three state CRI elections have voted decisively for his initiatives. In Michigan, for example, an exit poll showed that 59 percent of white women voted for the CRI, while 82 percent of women of color voted against it. Not only are women not a coherent voting bloc on this issue, they’re more divided on it than men are.
Perhaps one reason for this divide is that white women are virtually invisible targets of the CRI assault on affirmative action, as the CRI strategy has been to ignore them as beneficiaries of affirmative action in favor of targeting people of color, especially African Americans. This may well lead many white women to imagine themselves not as beneficiaries of these policies but as those aggrieved by them. Connerly’s capacity to stir up fears about affirmative action is easily facilitated by a media that does virtually nothing to deepen understanding of this vital issue. According to a Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting study, not only does mainstream media consistently describe affirmative- action policies as preferential and discriminatory, it rarely mentions women as beneficiaries of the policies or discusses the exclusionary barriers affirmative action is designed to dismantle.
Since Alan Bakke’s famous lawsuit against the University of California’s Davis Medical School in 1978, most of the symbolic victims of affirmative action have been white women—such as Jennifer Gratz and Barbara Grutter, lead plaintiffs in the University of Michigan affirmative-action cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. They were not likely chosen to play this victim role by accident.
The effort to fully mobilize women to resist this assault on affirmative action will require us to tap the deepest traditions of antiracist feminism and remind all women of their own very real experiences with discrimination in disparate sectors of American society. [To read the entire article, go to: http://www.msmagazine.com/winter2008/WardConnerlyPart2.asp ]

KIMBERLE CRENSHAW is a professor of law at Columbia and UCLA Law School, and directs the African American Policy Forum (www.aapf.org), which advances social justice through public education initiatives.

UC releases 2008 freshman admissions data

Date: 2008-04-14
Contact: Ricardo V√°zquezPhone: (510) 287-3301
Email: ricardo.vazquez@ucop.edu

This year, the University of California's freshman admission cycle took place under a challenging context that included the largest number of applicants in the university's history, budgetary constraints in light of proposed state funding cuts, and over-enrollment the previous year at several campuses.
Amid these challenges, UC admitted a record number of freshman students for the fall 2008 term. A total of 60,008 California high school seniors were offered admission, a 4.7 percent increase of admitted students (+2,690) over the fall 2007 term (57,318). Overall, 75.3 percent of fall 2008 California freshman applicants have been offered admission to the university, compared with 77.4 percent for fall 2007. The decline in the admissions rate is attributed to the fact that the growth in the number of applicants outpaced the growth in the number of admissions offers. The university will offer a space to every California resident applicant who is UC-eligible.
In addition to students who have already been offered admission, another 8,450 UC-eligible applicants who were not offered admission to a campus to which they originally applied will be offered admission to UC Merced and UC Riverside through a process known as referral. Nearly 3,000 applicants have been offered admission to the winter or spring term at UC Berkeley and UC San Diego.
Approximately 820 California resident freshman applicants to UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UCLA and UC San Diego will receive offers to participate in the UC Merced "Shared Experience" program. Now in its second year, this program offers students the opportunity to begin their UC education at UC Merced, with the option of remaining at Merced or transferring to another UC campus in their junior year.
Nearly 9 out of 10 admitted students are California residents. Admissions offers to out-of-state and international students numbered 7,545, an increase of over fall 2007 (6,283), and bringing the total number of applicants offered admission to the fall term to 67,553 students.
A brief summary of the admissions data follows:
• Universitywide, the admission of Chicano/Latino students increased by 16 percent, followed by African-American students (11.3 percent), white students (1.2 percent) and Asian-American students (0.7 percent) compared with fall 2007 outcomes. The increase in admissions offers closely track the increases of each group in the applicant pool. The percent of American Indian students decline slightly (-2.6 percent), or 11 fewer admits than fall 2007. The percentage of students who declined to state their ethnicity increased 12.3 percent from the previous year.
• Underrepresented students -- African Americans, American Indians and Chicano/Latinos make up 25.1 percent of UC admits, up from 22.9 percent for fall 2007. All campuses registered gains in the proportion of underrepresented students in their admitted class.
• Representation by gender. The admitted class is 56.7 percent female and 43.1 percent male. The relative proportion of admitted students by gender has remained stable over the last decade.
• Geographic representation through California continues to improve. Since its inception, the University of California has striven to attract, admit and enroll students from throughout of California. Although the majority of admitted students call Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Orange and San Diego/Imperial counties home, nearly all other regions of the state experienced greater increases in the number of applicants offered admission compared with fall 2007. The Riverside/San Bernardino area experienced a 10 percent increase in percent of applicants offered admission -- an increase that was foreshadowed by a nearly 11 percent increase in applicants from this region.
• Universitywide, UC continues to excel at offering opportunity and access to students from families that have traditionally not enjoyed the benefits of higher education. Just over 39 percent of freshman admits come from families where neither parent has a four-year degree, 36.8 percent come from low-income families, and 1 out of 5 admitted students is enrolled in a high school that is in the lower 40 percent of California high schools, as ranked by the Academic Performance Index (API) score.
Note: The admissions outcomes are preliminary and focus entirely on admission of freshman applicants. Transfer admissions data will be available mid-May. These data reflect admission as of March 31, 2008, and except as noted, are for California resident students only. Some campuses will continue to admit small numbers of applicants. Unless otherwise noted, the universitywide totals are "unduplicated," meaning that each student is counted only once. Data provided for individual campuses typically reflect multiple admissions offers; on average, fall 2008 freshman applicants applied to 3.6 UC campuses. In making year-to-year comparisons, note that the fall 2004 cycle was anomalous because state budget difficulties resulted in a reduction in the number of students UC was able to admit.
For more information and tables about 2008 freshman admissions to UC: www.ucop.edu/news/factsheets/fall2008adm.html

Monday, April 14, 2008

LOCKHEED MARTIN GLOBAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS TO PAY $773,000 FOR FIRING EIGHT EMPLOYEES BECAUSE OF THEIR AGE

BALTIMORE – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the settlement of its age discrimination lawsuit against Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications for $773,000 for a class of eight older employees.
In its suit (05-cv-00287-RWT), filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division, the EEOC charged that the Bethesda, Md.-based employer violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) when it discriminated against the employees, ages 65, 62, 61 (three), 53 and 47. The eight workers were fired during a reduction in force implemented in the COMSAT Mobile Communications Division in October 2000. The back pay remedies received by the claimants are in addition to severance pay already received.
Through a separate consent decree filed last year to settle retaliation claims brought in this lawsuit, Lockheed Martin has paid $131,000 in damages to two former employees whose severance was withheld because they had pursued administrative complaints with the EEOC. The EEOC had earlier obtained summary judgment on this issue. The age discrimination claims had been scheduled to go to trial in June. With the settlement of these claims, the lawsuit is now resolved in its entirety.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits employment discrimination based on age, older than 40 years. It is also unlawful to retaliate against individuals who oppose unlawful employment discrimination. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary resolution.
EEOC Regional Attorney Jacqueline McNair said, “Older workers represent a growing segment of the population and employers should not judge them according to age-based myths and stereotypes. This settlement achieves the EEOC’s objectives by providing relief to the victims while implementing measures to prevent any further age discrimination.”
In Fiscal Year 2007, the EEOC received 19,103 age discrimination charge filings, a 15% increase from the prior year and the biggest annual increase in five years. Allegations of age bias account for 23% of the agency’s private sector caseload.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/.

(Arizona) Lawmakers block discrimination bill

azdailysun.com
By HOWARD FISCHER
Capitol Media Services
Wednesday, April 09, 2008

PHOENIX -- State lawmakers won't ask voters to ban government from considering race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in employment, contracting and education.But that doesn't mean the issue won't be on the November ballot. On a 32-27 margin Tuesday the House refused to approve HCR 2041 which would spell out in the state constitution that these factors cannot be considered. Five Republicans joined with all 27 Democrats to kill the measure.The vote came despite the pleas of Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who said there needs to be a constitutional provision banning preference."There is no place in America for discrimination," he said. "It's pretty outrageous when we think the government has the power to pick winners and losers, when government has the right to decide you get something based on who you are and not (because) you've earned it on merit."He specifically blamed the American Civil Liberties Union, "probably the most un-American organization I know of," for helping to kill the bill.The measure is identical to an initiative drive launched last year by Ward Connerly, a former member of the California Board of Regents, who convinced voters in his home state in 1996 to enact a similar measure.Connerly now has taken that campaign to Arizona and seven other states.But Connerly and his allies need 230,047 valid signatures by July 3 to qualify for the ballot. Pearce said he hoped legislators would put the measure there themselves, allowing Connerly to avoid having to hire paid circulators and save money for the actual campaign. [To see the entire story, go to: http://www.azdailysun.com/articles/2008/04/09/news/state/20080409_arizona_news_49.txt ]

OFCCP Issues Final Rule on Veterans' Mandatory Job Listing Requirements

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
41 CFR Part 60-250RIN 1215-AB65
Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Obligations of Contractors and Subcontractors Regarding Protected Veterans
AGENCY: Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Labor.

ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: This final rule revises the regulations in 41 CFR part 60-250 implementing the nondiscrimination and affirmative action provisions of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended (``Section 4212'' or ``VEVRAA''). The regulations in part 60-250 implement the nondiscrimination and affirmative action provisions of VEVRAA prior to their amendment in 2002 by the Jobs for Veterans Act (``JVA''), and apply to contracts entered into before December 1, 2003. Today's final rule revises the mandatory job listing provision in the part 60-250 regulations to provide that listing employment openings with the state workforce agency job bank or with the local employment service delivery system where the opening occurs will satisfy the mandatory job listing requirements under the part 60-250 regulations. The effect of this final rule is to conform the mandatory job listing provision in the part 60-250 regulations to the parallel provision in the[[Page 18713]]regulations of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (``OFCCP'') implementing the JVA amendments to VEVRAA in 41 CFR part 60-300. Today's final rule also clarifies that the regulations in part 60-250 apply to any contract or subcontract of at least $25,000 entered into before December 1, 2003, and that the regulations in part 60-300, not the part 60-250 regulations, apply to such a contract or subcontract if it is modified on or after December 1, 2003 and the contract or subcontract as modified is for $100,000 or more.DATES: Effective Date: These regulations are effective April 7, 2008.FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sandra Dillon, Acting Director, Division of Policy, Planning, and Program Development, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room N3422, Washington, DC 20210. Telephone: (202) 693-0102 (voice) or (202) 693-1337 (TTY). [To see the entire final rule, go to:
http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-7123.htm and the OFCCP website, http://www.dol.gov/esa/ofccp/index.htm ]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

(India) Apex court upholds 27 pc quota to OBCs

The Hindu News Update Service
Thursday, April 10, 2008 : 1410 Hrs

New Delhi (PTI): In a major boost to reservation, the Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Constitution amendment law providing for 27 per cent quota for OBCs [Otherwise Backwards Classes ] in IITs, IIMs and other Central educational institutions but excluded the creamy layer from the benefit.
A five-judge Constitution bench by a unanimous verdict cleared the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 providing for the quota.
The bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan excluded the creamy layer among the OBCs from the quota benefit.
The court held that the Act does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
The verdict came on a bunch of petitions by anti-quota activists challenging the Act. They vehemently opposed government's move saying caste cannot be the starting point for identifying backward classes.
The inclusion of creamy layer in the reservation policy was also questioned by the anti-quota petitioners.
With this judgement, the interim order of March 29, 2007 staying the implementation of the Act has been lifted.
In effect, the reservation policy can be put in place for the 2008-09 academic session.
The Court held that the Constitution (93rd Amendment) Act, under which the Government came out with the law providing 27 per cent quota in Centrally-aided institutions, was not violative of the basic structure of the Constitution.
All the judges favoured periodic revision on the implementation of the 27 per cent quota.
The Court ruled that the delegation of power to the Centre to determine OBCs was valid.
The parameter applied for identifying the creamy layer among the OBCs for jobs as per the office memorandum of September 8, 1993, will be applicable, the court said.
It also held as valid the exclusion of minority institutions from the ambit of quota under the Act.
Besides the Chief Justice, the Bench comprised Justices Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakker, R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari. [To read the entire article, go to: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/000200804101231.htm ]

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Affirmative Action Challenged Anew

Inside Higher Education
April 8, 2008

When Texas and a few other states responded to bans on affirmative action with “percent plans,” which guarantee admission to public colleges to those who graduate in some designated top percentile of their high school classes, some critics of affirmative action were troubled. The plans were adopted in states like Texas where many high schools are largely segregated (by housing patterns, not law), so offering automatic admission for the top 10 percent of graduates assures a measure of diversity at public universities. Some critics viewed the plans as an end run around the bans on affirmative action since the plans were designed with the idea of getting more black and Latino students into top universities — but in a way that couldn’t be legally challenged.
Now a new lawsuit against the University of Texas at Austin from critics of affirmative action argues that because of the success of a percent plan, the institution should not be permitted to consider race in admissions. The suit doesn’t seek to reverse the Supreme Court’s rulings that, in certain circumstances, allowed the use of affirmative action in college admissions. Rather, the suit says that — if the Supreme Court’s directives were being carefully followed — colleges would have to eliminate or change many admissions policies that consider race and ethnicity. Critics of affirmative action think they may have a new legal strategy for use in some states, and even some defenders of affirmative action — while dubious of the argument — say it is novel and may attract new thinking to such litigation.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday on behalf of a white high school senior, Abigail Noel Fisher, who was rejected from UT Austin. Like other challenges to affirmative action, the suit charges that Fisher would have otherwise been admitted — but for affirmative action as practiced by the university. Where the argument differs is that it is based on a portion of the 2003 Supreme Court decision, Grutter v. Bollinger, that upheld the right of the University of Michigan’s law school to consider race in admissions decisions. The decision noted the obligation of public universities to consider race-neutral alternatives to the explicit consideration of race and ethnicity. That obligation is typical of court decisions upholding affirmative action, and most colleges have argued that race neutral measures alone — such as affirmative action based on class, for example — would not produce a diverse class of students.
This is where things could get tricky for the University of Texas, the plaintiffs hope, because they are pointing to numerous statements from university officials praising the 10 percent plan for helping to admit classes of students with as much or more diversity than the university had before a ban on affirmative action. For example, this statement from the university — cited in the court filings — says that “the law is helping us to create a more representative student body and enroll students who perform well academically.”
The Project on Fair Representation, which is handling the suit against the university, is not attacking the legality of affirmative action or of the 10 percent law, said Edward Blum, who is involved in the case and has worked for several efforts against affirmative action. “The court in Grutter very distinctly said that you’ve got to try race-neutral means before you use affirmative action, and the University of Texas is not,” he said. “One of the results of this lawsuit may be that other colleges and universities may be put on notice that they must use race-neutral means.”
One irony of the suit is that the University of Texas has been pushing hard since 2003 to have the state repeal the 10 percent law. At the time the law was adopted, a federal appeals court decision banning affirmative action was in place in Texas. But when the Supreme Court upheld affirmative action’s legality, the university resumed consideration of race. University officials have said that they now have enough tools available to assure a diverse class that they don’t need the top 10 percent law and fear it deprives them of flexibility. Last year, it looked like the Texas Legislature was poised to repeal the law, but at the last minute, the repeal effort failed — with many advocates for minority students saying that the 10 percent plan was still needed.
Blum said that if Texas does repeal the law, it would not change the suit. Texas can decide whether or not it wants to keep the law, he said. But it can’t consider race in admissions when the success of the law has demonstrated the ability to obtain diversity in a student body without using race-specific policies.
Patti Ohlendorf, vice president for legal affairs at Austin, issued a statement noting that the university has just received a copy of the suit and hasn’t had time to study it. “We will review the complaint, which challenges the university’s admissions procedures on Constitutional grounds, with the UT System Office of General Counsel and the Office of the Attorney General,” she said. “Each year we are very fortunate to receive applications from thousands of very able high school seniors, but as with many universities around the country, we are limited in the number of applicants we can admit. We believe that our undergraduate admissions policies are well administered and in compliance with Supreme Court precedent and all other applicable law.”
Shirley Wilcher, executive director of the American Association for Affirmative Action, said she had not seen the suit. She said that if the plaintiffs prevailed, it could limit the ability of Texas colleges to diversify. “I have never been under the impression that the percentage plans were a ceiling above which you can’t go,” she said. “There’s nothing that says that if you don’t get the level of diversity you want, you can’t go beyond that.”
She also noted that the Supreme Court hasn’t required colleges — or other entities engaged in affirmative action — to undertake every single possible alternative to the consideration of race. She questioned whether the suit may be “a ploy” to attack affirmative action in new ways. [To read the entire story, go to: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/04/08/affirm ]

Johns Hopkins Pledges $5 Million Toward Faculty Diversity Initiative

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
by Sarah Lake
Apr 8, 2008, 22:21

Johns Hopkins University announced plans to invest at least $5 million over the next five years in the Mosaic Initiative, a program focused on hiring and retaining women and people of color.

“Our aim is to create a mosaic of the best and the brightest faculty across all our schools and in all our disciplines, a mosaic including rising stars interested in becoming part of the intellectual life of this great institution,” provost Kristina M. Johnson said.

This academic year, Johns Hopkins has added 206 more women and 45 more minorities to its full-time faculty of 3,519 than it did four years ago, she said. Even with these additions, women make up only 38 percent of full-time faculty and less than 20 percent of full professors. Minorities continue to be underrepresented on campus, making up only 6 percent of the full-time faculty and less than 4 percent of full professors, Johnson said. [To read the entire article, go to: http://diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_10970.shtml ]

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Affirmative action petition is pulled

NewsOK.com
April 5, 2008
By John Greiner
Capitol Bureau

A motion to withdraw an initiative petition prohibiting government-sponsored race and gender preferences was filed with the state Supreme Court on Friday by the group promoting the petition. aturday, April 5, 2008
3 metro homicide victims identified
The Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative's motion said it didn't believe it could withstand a challenge to the number of signatures it collected for a statewide vote on the proposal, State Question 737.
The American Civil Liberties Union had filed the signature challenge on behalf of protesters including Reps. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, and Jabar Shumate, D-Tulsa.
A hearing on the challenge was set for Tuesday before a Supreme Court referee.
The circulators of the petition had collected 141,184 signatures.
They needed a minimum of 138,970 valid signatures of registered voters and would have to withstand any legal challenges to get on an election ballot.
Taxpayers' money consideredIn February, Secretary of State Susan Savage told the Supreme Court the petition had large numbers of duplicate names and addresses.
But on Feb. 25, the court said the signatures were numerically sufficient and then established a period for people to file a protest.
The motion to withdraw the petition said the validity rate for the signatures it collected would need to be in excess of 90 percent, "which is a statistical impossibility given historical validity rates . ...”
It also said the group didn't want to waste the court's efforts or taxpayers' money when it was reasonably certain it would fail to have enough valid signatures. [To read the entire article, go to: http://newsok.com/article/3225847/1207371424]

AAAA Remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Dear AAAA Members, Colleagues and Friends:

On the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we take time to reflect upon what has transpired since his passing. Much has been attained towards achieving Dr. King’s dream and vision – more women and persons of color are moving up the corporate ladder, in higher education and government. We are beginning to address the need for persons with disabilities to become full participants in the workplace and society. The wage gap is closing, albeit slowly, and we are experiencing a first in presidential politics: a woman and an African American are candidates for the presidency and a Hispanic was a recent contender as well.

There is much more ground to cover, however. The number of charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission remains unacceptably high. Racial harassment cases and incidents with nooses are far too common, even in the academy. Many professionals who happen to be of color continue to face daily insults based on their race. I can recall our Executive Director and I leaving Omaha, Nebraska a few weeks ago and we faced a most demeaning experience with TSA screeners at the airport – a reminder that while we have our accomplishments, some continue to see us as less than equal in America.

At our upcoming 34th annual conference in Falls Church, VA, themed a “New Era of Leadership and Action,” we will re-commit to the struggle to promote equal opportunity, access and diversity through affirmative action. I hope to see you there.There is still much to be done. We need all of you to ensure that Dr. King’s sacrifice will not have been in vain.

Sincerely,

ReNee S. Dunman
President, AAAA