Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Civil Rights Coalition Applauds House Passage of Important Hate Crimes Bill

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Press Release
April 29, 2009
Contact: Maggie Kao (202) 466-2735

Statement of Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Washington, D.C. – The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s largest civil and human rights coalition, released the following statement on today’s House passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (H.R. 1913):

“We once again applaud the House’s bipartisan passage of this important civil rights law.

Today’s House vote is a victory for more than 300 civil rights, human rights, religious, and law enforcement organizations, who have come out in support of the bill.

Most importantly, it is a victory for those who may find themselves targeted because of the color of their skin, their gender identity, sexual orientation, gender, or disability. It is a victory for the families of victims of hate crimes – people like Angie Zapata of Colorado, Luis Ramirez of Pennsylvania, Billy Ray Johnson of Texas, and Matthew Shepard of Wyoming.

The right to be protected and the right to be safe and free from physical harm or intimidation, is probably the most fundamental of all the civil and human rights.

Today, the House has sent a clear message that Americans do not have to live in fear. We look forward to swift Senate action.”

# # #

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition. For more information on LCCR and its more than 200 member organizations, visit

Berrien Reported to be new EEOC Chair Nominee

The Washington Post
Al Kamen
April 29, 2009

Latest word is that Jackie Berrian, associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, is said to be the pick to become chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The vice chairmanship is expected to go to Thomas Saenz, counsel to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D). There had been talk that he was a likely pick to run the civil rights division at Justice, but that didn't pan out.
There was also talk a while back that White House deputy counsel Cassandra Butts might take over the troubled EEOC, but she's been spending lots of time these days on judicial appointments -- there are 69 vacancies and only three nominees so far. With that many seats left to fill, she decided to stay on at the White House.

Transsexual Wins $500, 000 Lawsuit

The New York Times
Filed at 11:00 a.m. ET
April 29, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge has awarded a former Army Special Forces commander nearly $500,000 because she was rejected from a job at the Library of Congress while transitioning from a man to a woman.
Diane Schroer of Alexandria, Va., applied for the terrorism analyst job while she was still a man named David Schroer. He was offered the job, but the offer was pulled after he told a library official that he was having surgery to change his gender.
U.S. District Judge James Robinson ruled Tuesday that Schroer was entitled to $491,190 in back pay and damages because of sex discrimination.
The Library of Congress and the Justice Department argued unsuccessfully that discrimination because of transsexuality was not illegal sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.
The American Civil Liberties Union had argued the case on Schroer's behalf. Paul Cates with the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project said the ruling was significant because a federal judge said that discriminating against someone for changing genders is sex discrimination under federal law.
Schroer is a former U.S. Army colonel who directed a classified group that tracked and targeted terrorists. Schroer retired in 2004 and worked briefly in the private sector before applying for the Congressional Research Service job at the Library of Congress.
After being offered the job, Schroer had lunch with a Library of Congress official and explained the upcoming surgery. Schroer testified the official called the next day and said the position would not be a ''good fit.''

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Keeping the Polls Open

The New York Times
Why a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act should survive.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WITH AN African American president, does the nation still need its decades-old voting rights laws?
This is one of the questions likely to animate oral arguments this morning in a Supreme Court case that could determine how far the federal government may go in policing states with histories of racial discrimination.
At issue is Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which mandates that 16 states, mostly Southern, obtain approval from the Justice Department or a federal judge before changing voting procedures; Section 5 also applies to individual jurisdictions within those states. The section was enacted after federal lawmakers became frustrated by some states' regular attempts to evade laws meant to correct voting discrimination. Congress set a five-year term for the law but has extended it three times, most recently in 2006, when overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate approved a 25-year extension, signed by President George W. Bush.
Critics argue that Section 5 gives unprecedented and unconstitutional power to the federal government over election matters that should be the province of the states. They also argue that Section 5 is no longer needed, citing not only President Obama's election but the thousands of African Americans who serve in public office at all levels.
Section 5 is indeed a powerful and intrusive tool, and progress has been made on minority participation. Yet Section 5 is, sadly, still relevant and necessary today.
Republicans, including former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and former attorney general Richard L. Thornburgh, filed a brief that makes a compelling case for upholding Section 5. It notes that between 1982 and 2006, often under Republican presidents, the Justice Department rejected 700 requests for voting changes from covered states after concluding that they were discriminatory. The officials also point to extensive findings by the House and Senate in 2006 that showed that "voting changes devised by covered jurisdictions resemble those techniques and methods" used decades ago, including discriminatory redistricting plans, switching offices from elected to appointed positions, relocating polling places and changing elections from single-member districts to at-large voting.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BRAZIL: University Racial Quotas Bogged Down in Congress

By Fabiana Frayssinet
RIO DE JANEIRO, Apr 28 (IPS) - Claudio Fernández is able to study law thanks to affirmative action quotas at the Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ). But a draft law to expand race quotas to all public institutions of higher education is stalled in the Senate."The quotas helped me overcome a situation in which the son of a domestic employee with five children – my case – cannot even imagine making it to a public university, not to mention a career in law," Fernández told IPS. The UERJ law student is poor, just like 67 percent of blacks in Brazil. Public primary and secondary schools in Brazil do not tend to provide a solid educational foundation for continuing on to tertiary level studies. In addition, private courses for the university entrance exam are costly. Most of the students who make it into the country’s prestigious public universities come from middle and upper socioeconomic strata and studied at private schools. Brazil’s tuition-free federal universities provide the best higher education in the country. The draft law that would reserve quotas for black and indigenous students in public universities and vocational-technical institutes, introduced by the leftwing government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is aimed at overcoming these imbalances, which are later reflected in the labour market. The initiative would reserve 50 percent of spots in the federal university system for students from public schools, half of whom must come from families with a maximum income of 1.5 minimum monthly salaries – equivalent to 313 dollars. The racial quotas, meanwhile, would be set according to the proportion of blacks and indigenous people in any given state, based on census information from the Brazilian Institute of Statistics. For example, in a state like Bahía in the northeast, where a majority of the population is black, the proportion would be higher, while it would be lower in the southern state of Santa Catarina. But the draft law, approved by the Chamber of Deputies on Nov. 20 - National Black Awareness Day – is bogged down in the Senate constitution and justice committee. In a telephone interview from the capital Brasilia, where a protest was held last week outside the Senate to demand passage of the law, Daniel Cara, coordinator of the National Campaign for the Right to Education, told IPS that "the approval process has been slow, given the importance of this draft law."

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Fair Judges Needed to Win Fair Pay

Huffington Post
Nan Aron
Posted April 28, 2009 01:46 PM (EST

The Lilly Ledbetter Act returned the law to what it had been for decades, before the Supreme Court intervened.

Now we need to pass new legislation the Paycheck Fairness Act S. 182 - and stand up for judges who uphold the Constitution and the law to provide equal justice for all, not just a few.Today, April 28, 2009, is Equal Pay Day. Today marks the point when the average woman's wages finally catch up with what the average man earned last year.
Women still earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and for women of color, the numbers are even worse. Equal Pay Day is an important reminder of this persistent wage gap and the urgent need to take action to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.
We've made some progress in the fight for equal pay - the first bill President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. That law reversed a damaging Supreme Court decision, which had severly limited the rights of women challenging discriminatory pay..
But the Ledbetter legislation just returned the law to what it had been for decades, before the Roberts Court interfered. We need to pass new legislation to win the fight for fair pay.
The Senate must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act S. 182, a vital next step toward achieving equal pay for equal work by amending the Equal Pay Act. President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act 45 years ago, making it illegal for employers to pay women less than men for the same work. But loopholes in the law and weak enforcement from the courts allowed many discriminatory practices to continue. The Paycheck Fairness Act addresses these concerns and equips women with the necessary tools with which to fight unequal pay.
This fight for justice has been a long one. We are all grateful for the courageous women who are willing to demand fairness. Lilly Ledbetter, who worked at Goodyear Tire in Gadsden, Alabama, never gave up the fight, despite enormous odds and personal sacrifice. She stood up for millions of working Americans, even though she will not personally benefit from the law that bears her name. Lilly Ledbetter and many others like her show that we can win if we are willing to fight back.

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What You Need to Know About Lawful Waivers of Age Discrimination Claims

Workforce Week
By Bradley T. Adler
March 2009

To have a valid release of claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, employers must comply with several technical requirements. Courts consistently have stated that these requirements are ‘strict and unqualified,’ and if an employer fails to meet any of the statutory requirements, the waiver is ‘ineffective as a matter of law.’ Here is an outline of what companies must do to comply.

In today’s difficult economic times, many employers are carefully assessing their operational structures, particularly the efficiency and expense of their workforce. When revenues are down and expenses remain the same or go up, something has to change. That something has typically has been a dramatic reduction in the workforce.
However, many employers are surprised to learn that layoffs can result in significant legal claims by affected employees. A reduction in force is a situation that often serves as the basis for discrimination claims—particularly involving age discrimination—even though the cause of the reductions may be a loss of business, a merger or a consolidation of business operations.
When terminating an employee because of a reduction in force, many employers offer severance packages to employees to obtain a waiver of claims. In short, as a part of the layoff, the employer offers an employee some benefit—typically compensation—that the employee otherwise is not entitled to receive. In exchange, the employee is asked to sign a release agreement that waives any claims against the company arising out of his or her employment.
Typically there are no specific requirements for such waivers of federal claims. But there is one major exception: claims for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. To have a valid release of claims under the act, employers must comply with several technical requirements. Courts consistently have stated that these requirements are "strict and unqualified," and if an employer fails to meet any of the statutory requirements, the waiver is "ineffective as a matter of law." The technical requirements are:
1. A written and understandable agreement: The waiver must be part of a written agreement between the individual and the employer that is written in a manner calculated to be understood by the average individual eligible to participate.
2. Reference to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act: The waiver specifically refers to rights or claims arising under the act.
3. Prohibition against releasing future rights or claims: The agreement reflects that the individual is not waiving rights or claims for actions that occur after the date the waiver is executed.
4. Consideration required: The individual waives rights or claims only in exchange for consideration, in addition to anything of value to which the individual already is entitled.
5. Attorney consultation: The individual is advised in writing to consult with an attorney prior to executing the agreement.
6. Consideration period: In instances of single-employee terminations, the individual must be given a period of at least 21 days within which to consider the agreement. In instances where a waiver is requested in connection with an exit incentive or other employment termination program offered to a group or class of employees, the individual must be given a period of at least 45 days within which to consider the agreement. In this case, "program" is defined to include voluntary and involuntary terminations affecting two or more employees.
7. Revocation period: The agreement provides that, for a period of at least seven days following the execution of such agreement, the individual may revoke the agreement and the agreement shall not become effective or enforceable until the renovation period has expired.
With respect to the specified time periods, employers should be aware that, if the waiver is sought as a part of a settlement for a claim of age discrimination that has been filed with a court or the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, the employee is not entitled to either the 21-day consideration or the seven-day revocation period. Also, even when such time limits are applicable, an employee may sign a release prior to the end of the 21-day (or 45-day) time period, although the seven-day revocation period cannot be shortened by the parties.

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Sojourner Truth: the first African American woman with a memorial in US Capitol

Business World Index

Sojourner Truth: the first African American woman with a memorial in US Capitol---On April 28, 2009 American history will be made. The National Congress of Black Women, Inc. (NCBW) will introduce Sojourner Truth as the first African American woman to have a memorial bust in the United States Capitol building amidst hundreds of guests. After nearly a ten year effort spearheaded by the late Dr. C. Delores Tucker, former chair of NCBW, the memorial has been completed by current National Chair, Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. and members of NCBW. The Celebration of Truth campaign will include: The unveiling of the Sojourner Truth bust, a presentation of "Ain't I A Woman," by long time NCBW supporter and actress, Cicely Tyson. Music will be led by Lomax Spaulding, Yolanda Adams and Dorinda Clarke Cole at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center Emancipation Hall. "This accomplishment has been a struggle, but at the National Congress of Black Women, we have learned that it is from our struggles that we gain our victories," says Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., National Chair of NCBW. Presenting co-sponsors of the Sojourner Truth Memorial include: Ford Motor Company, Shell Oil Company, Wal-Mart, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Capitol City Links, YWCA USA, Senator Ed Brooke, Events of the Heart and the Obama Family. President Barack Obama says, "Sojourner Truth inspired generations of women to demand equality and who later would dare to reach for the ballot. Her Memorial, the first to a Black woman in the U.S. Capitol, is a milestone, not just for African Americans and women, but for all Americans."

Obama Is Nudging Views on Race, a Survey Finds

The New York Times
April 28, 2009

Barack Obama’s presidency seems to be altering the public perception of race relations in the United States. Two-thirds of Americans now say race relations are generally good, and the percentage of blacks who say so has doubled since last July, according to the latest New York Times/ CBS News poll.
Despite that, half of blacks still say whites have a better chance of getting ahead in American society, the poll found. Black Americans remain among the president’s staunchest supporters; 70 percent of black respondents now say the country is headed in the right direction, compared with 34 percent of whites.
The poll found broad support for Mr. Obama’s approach on a variety of issues, including one of the most contentious: whether Congress should investigate the harsh interrogation tactics authorized by George W. Bush. Sixty-two percent of Americans share Mr. Obama’s view that hearings are unnecessary.
Americans seem to have high hopes for the president; 72 percent said they were optimistic about the next four years. By and large, Americans expect him to make significant progress in health care, energy and immigration policy, issues central to his ambitious domestic agenda.
But the optimism is tempered by a feeling of resignation about two of the most difficult challenges he faces: reviving the economy and ending United States military involvement in Iraq. Most Americans say Mr. Obama has begun to make progress on both fronts, but many do not expect either the recession or the war to be over by the end of his term.
It is not unusual for new presidents to enjoy substantial public support at this point in their tenure. But Mr. Obama’s 68 percent job approval rating is higher than that of any recent president at the 100-day mark. Mr. Bush had the approval of 56 percent of the public at this juncture.
But while Americans clearly have faith in Mr. Obama, the poll revealed something of a disconnect between what the public thinks the president has already accomplished and what it expects him to achieve.

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Britain proposes affirmative action bill

Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — Is the end near for the English gentleman of privilege?
Britain has proposed an affirmative action bill meant to tackle thorny class divisions and encourage equal opportunities for women and minorities — a proposal already causing an uproar in some circles.
Under the proposed act, white male job applicants could lose out to women and minorities with equal qualifications, while private companies with 250 employees or more would be required to disclose salary discrepancies between male and female employees.
Although no date has been set for parliamentary debate, the Labour-led government hopes to push the bill through before next year's general election. The bill, which would collect a raft of anti-discrimination provisions in a single act, would likely fail under a Conservative-led government.
"The economies of the future that will prosper are the ones which are not blinkered, held back by old-fashioned hierarchies, by a sense of women knowing their place, by overlooking the talents and abilities of people on the basis of the color of their skin," Equalities Minister Harriet Harman said Monday when the bill was published.
Business leaders say the proposals are ill-timed, as industries grapple with the recession.
"This bill will discourage job creation and make employers fearful of the recruitment process," said David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce. "Coupled with the 50 percent tax rate, this sends a poor message about doing business in the UK."
The United States was one of the first countries to pass affirmative action legislation — measures originally designed encourage the hiring of blacks, who had been subject to large-scale discrimination. The programs were later extended to women and other minorities.
Britain's bill takes that one step further by addressing long-standing inequalities between the classes — divisions that go back centuries.

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Cracks in the Ceiling

AmLaw Daily
Posted by Dimitra Kessenides
By Patricia Gillette
April 28, 2009 5:00 AM

Timing is everything.
Two years ago, I embarked on a study called The Opt In Project to look outside of the legal profession for examples of the successes and failures of retaining women and advancing them to leadership positions. At the time, I was a partner at Heller Ehrman. I had been working as a labor and employment lawyer for nearly 30 years and had started to believe that people in large law firms were too focused on part-time and mentoring/client development training programs as The Solution to the exodus of women from those firms.
Working with my colleague Anne Mercogliano (she was then a diversity coordinator at the firm), the hope was that our research would shed some light on the challenges faced by women in the legal profession and lead us to recommendations that might, over time, result in meaningful change.
Our findings were discouraging, interesting, surprising, and even hopeful. One point in particular made a strong impression on me. The factors that were pushing women away from law firms were the same ones cited by Gen Y lawyers entering the profession as important to their careers: a desire for a more balanced work life, even if that meant reduced pay. I was struck by the fact that the women voicing these concerns in law firms were seen as outliers; in corporations, the women were driving change.
In May, 2007, we published The Opt In Report (download the report here), presenting the argument that law firms must rethink their traditional structures in order to survive--from the way lawyers progress in their careers to the way clients are billed for services. Those changes, in turn, were needed to keep women in the profession.

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AAUW Releases Data to Show How the Wage Gap Varies from State to State

American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Contact:Lisa Goodnight, goodnightl@aauw.org202/785-7738

Women Continue to Earn Less Despite Educational Attainment

WASHINGTON — To commemorate Equal Pay Day, April 28, 2009, AAUW has released a new state-by-state earnings comparison by gender that shows that the wage gap is stubbornly in place despite the overall positive effect a college degree has on women workers. Observing Equal Pay Day reminds the nation of the gross inequities facing women, who must work from January 2008 through April 2009 to earn what their male counterparts received in 2008 alone.
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, AAUW finds that women earn 78 percent as much as men earn, and the numbers are even worse for women of color. Compared with white male workers, African American women earn about 67 cents on the dollar (African American men make 78 cents); Hispanic women make about 58 cents (Hispanic men make almost 66 cents).
The new AAUW comparison looks at women's and men's earnings in 50 states and the nation’s capital for the college-educated population and the workforce as a whole using the most recent data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2007).
The pay gap varies significantly from state to state. For the entire full-time workforce, the narrowest wage gaps exist in the District of Columbia, Vermont, and California — where female, full-time workers make 85 percent as much as their male counterparts. At the other end of the rankings are Wyoming, West Virginia, and North Dakota, where women earn 62 percent, 65 percent, and 66 percent, respectively, of what men make.
For the college-educated, year-round workforce, the narrowest wage gap exists in Vermont, where female full-time workers make 87 percent as much as their male counterparts. Hawaii follows at 83 percent, then Delaware at 80 percent. Louisiana — where female full-time workers make 65 percent of what their male counterparts earn — and West Virginia and Mississippi, both at 67 percent, are emerging as the states with the largest pay differences between male and female college-educated workers.
"Our analysis is quite disturbing, especially when you consider how more and more families are depending on a woman's paycheck as the primary source of income in these tough economic times. Consequently, the issue of pay equity takes on an added sense of urgency. This is just one of the reasons why we're urging the Senate to join the House and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act," said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would provide additional tools to deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act.
Over a 40-year career, women could lose between $500,000 and $1 million. In higher-paying fields, such as law, the wage gap can result in even greater lifetime losses. For all women, the disparity is further compounded by losses in retirement and Social Security income that depend on wage-based contributions. Nationwide, working families lose $200 billion of income annually to the gender wage gap.
"Women with college degrees earn considerably more than women with less education, but they earn considerably less than men with college degrees. As we know from our research for Behind the Pay Gap, these differences start right out of college. Achieving full equity for women workers will require more than individual women making educational achievements," said Catherine Hill, PhD, AAUW director of research.
To learn more about Equal Pay Day, visit

Monday, April 27, 2009

Supreme Court Ruling Unlikely to End Affirmative Action

New America Media, Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson , Posted: Apr 26, 2009

Editor's Note: In June, the Supreme Court almost certainly will rule that the city of New Haven, Conn. discriminated against white firefighters on its promotional test. But that won’t end affirmative action because repeated polling of Americans has indicated that they favor it, argues NAM contributing writer Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

The U.S. Supreme Court will vote in June whether New Haven, Connecticut discriminated against white firefighters on its promotional test. It’s hardly the first time the Supreme Court has ruled on race related employment and education cases. In each instance the rulings have done much to fuel the notion that a majority of Americans oppose affirmative action.Nothing could be further from the truth.In countless polls and surveys, a solid majority of Americans do vehemently oppose the use of quotas, preferences, set asides and what’s deceptively labeled “reverse discrimination.” They have also backed anti-affirmative action initiatives that have cannily and deceptively played on words to stir outrage and indignation that affirmative action subverts the cherished American values of equality, fair play, and reward for merit. The same polls, however, show that when the pollsters avoid an all-or-none choice between affirmative action as it currently exists and no affirmative action whatsoever a majority of Americans support affirmative action at some level. Title VII of the civil rights law explicitly gives employers the right to ban tests that have a “disparate impact” on racial groups.

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Not Moving On Up: Why Women Get Stuck at Associate Professor

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Monday, April 27, 2009

Message to deans, department chairs, and other administrators in higher education: Pay more attention to associate professors— particularly women, for whom the path to promotion is often murky and less traveled.
That's one of several recommendations from a panel of the Modern Language Association, whose new report, released today, describes how male associate professors in English and foreign languages are routinely promoted to full professor quicker than women are. To help reverse that trend, the MLA's Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession suggested several moves, such as backing away from the monograph as the dominant form of scholarship that counts toward advancement, attaching bigger salary increases to the jump from associate to full professor, and creating mentor programs that focus specifically on preparing associate professors for promotion. The report, "Standing Still: The Associate Professor Survey," is available on the association's Web site.
"Every associate professor should be promoted at some point," said Kathleen Woodward, a professor of English at the University of Washington and the report's lead author. "Universities have devoted so much attention to assistant professors trying to get tenure, as they should, but associate professors are important, too."
The report shows that women at doctoral institutions take two and a half years longer than men to reach full professor. The gap shrinks to one and a half years at master's institutions, and the smallest gap—a year is at baccalaureate colleges. A closer look at private independent colleges by the association revealed that women there take three and a half years longer than their male counterparts to advance to associate professor.
Over all, the average time to promotion for female associate professors is 8.2 years, compared with 6.6 years for men.
And although many studies show that female academics spend more time caring for children than do their male peers, the association's report found that such family obligations aren't the tipping point when it comes to advancement. Women are promoted more slowly than men, no matter what their marital or parental status is, according to the report, for which 400 professors were surveyed.

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Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession Releases Its Report on the Associate Professor Survey
The Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession, as part of the committee's Associate Professor Project, has written a report presenting findings of the MLA's 2006 survey of MLA members who hold the rank of professor and associate professor and teach English or other modern languages in United States colleges and universities. The data reveal differences in the career paths and progress of men and women in the fields of language and literature represented in the MLA, including the number of years spent at the rank of associate professor before promotion to professor; time devoted to research, teaching, service, and other professional activities; time given to personal commitments such as child care, elder care, and other family responsibilities; views of tenure and promotion; and job satisfaction.

Standing Still: The Associate Professor Survey
Full Report
Key Findings

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Virginia Tech Decision Sparks Debate on Diversity Work and Faculty Evaluations

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
by Jamal Eric Watson Apr 23, 2009, 10:53

The decision by Virginia Tech to abandon a controversial proposal aimed at requiring faculty to engage in diversity-related activities, has prompted a larger debate on college campuses across the nation over what role, if any, should diversity work play in the evaluation of faculty members.
While many colleges and universities across the nation have long rewarded faculty members who voluntarily engage in promoting diversity on their respective campuses, the accolades often come in the form of monetary grants, certificates or awards and are not requirements that have to be met in order to secure tenure or gain a promotion in faculty rank.
But there are some faculty members and administrators who are pushing to make faculty diversity work a requirement for promotion, arguing that if academics are not forced to expand their comfort zones and scholarly interests, they simply won’t.
Still, when universities have tried to implement such policies, they have faced fierce criticism from faculty and from outside conservative and first amendment groups that argue such a requirement is too stringent and violates academic freedom. In the end, all of these institutions eventually backed away from their original proposal.
Diversity work, however, is still being considered and evaluated by tenure and promotion committees at institutions all across the nation, says Dr. Winnifred R. Brown-Glaude, an assistant professor of Africana studies at The College of New Jersey.
Brown-Glaude is the editor of Doing Diversity in Higher Education, a collection of case studies that examine diversity issues at 12 colleges across the United States.
“What we found was that faculty members viewed diversity work as an extension of their intellectual work and to separate the two is a false divide,” says Brown-Glaude, who adds that many institutions mistakenly treat diversity work as service to the college or university and such service is often weighted less than scholarly work.

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Calif. Attorney General Says Prop. 209 Unconstitutional in Some Cases

Equal Justice Society
Posted by Keith Kamisugi on Wednesday, April 22, 2009
UPDATE: Article by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bob Egelko

California State Attorney General Jerry Brown today filed a brief (PDF) with the state Supreme Court today opining that article 1, section 31 of the California Constitution (Prop. 209) is unconstitutional as applied in certain circumstances.
The letter brief was filed in response to the Supreme Court’s request for an opinion regarding Coral Construction v. City and County of San Francisco, a case pending before the Court concerning whether San Francisco’s attempt to remedy longstanding exclusion of minority- and women-owned businesses in its public contracting violates article I, section 31.
The letter stated: “To the extent that the prohibitions against race- and gender-based discrimination in article I, section 31 of the California Constitution (hereafter referred to as section 31) are aligned with the prohibitions enforced under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, section 31 is constitutional.
“However, to the extent that section 31 is interpreted more broadly to bar race- or gender-conscious programs that would be permissible under the Fourteenth Amendment, it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the federal Constitution, pursuant to Washington v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 (1982) 458 U.S. 457 (Seattle) and Hunter v. Erickson (1969) 393 U.S. 385 (Hunter). To that extent, section 31 would create an unequal political structure based on race and gender that is not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest.”
“It is unclear precisely what governmental interest section 31 was intended to serve,” the letter also stated. “If it is the interest in protecting all Californians from discrimination based on race or gender, that is concededly a compelling governmental interest. However, there appears to be no factual basis to support a governmental interest in denying preferences that are permissible under the Fourteenth Amendment.
“Ironically, by effectively disadvantaging racial minorities and women in the political process, without an evident compelling governmental reason for doing so, section 31 seems to accomplish the very evil it purported to eliminate, viz. racial and gender discrimination.”

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SPLC Report Finds Low-Income Latinos in South Targeted for Abuse, Discrimination

Southern Poverty Law Center
April 21, 2009

Low-income Latino immigrants in the South are routinely the targets of wage theft, racial profiling and other abuses driven by an anti-immigrant climate that harms all Latinos regardless of their immigration status, according to a report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The report — Under Siege: Life for Low-Income Latinos in the South — documents the experiences of Latino immigrants who face increasing hostility as they fill low-wage jobs in Southern states that had few Latino residents until recent years.
"This report documents the human toll of failed policies that relegate millions of people to an underground economy, where they are beyond the protection of the law," said Mary Bauer, author of the report and director of the SPLC's Immigrant Justice Project. "Workplace abuses and racial profiling are rampant in the South."
Under Siege is based on a survey of 500 low-income Latinos — including legal residents, undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens — at five locations in the South. The locations were Nashville, Charlotte, New Orleans, rural southern Georgia, and several towns and cities in northern Alabama.
The survey findings, coupled with accounts from in-depth interviews, depict a region where Latinos are routinely cheated out of wages by employers and denied basic health and safety protections. They are racially profiled by overzealous law enforcement agents and victimized by criminals who know they are reluctant to report crime to these same authorities. Even legal residents and U.S. citizens of Latino descent said racial profiling, bigotry and other forms of discrimination are staples of their daily lives.
A number of immigrants in the survey described the South as a "war zone."
"The assumption is that every Latino possibly is undocumented," Angeles Ortega-Moore, an immigrant advocate in North Carolina, told SPLC researchers. "So it [discrimination] has spread over into the legal population."
Maria, who came to Tennessee from Colombia, told SPLC researchers her immigration papers are in order, but she is still afraid of being stopped by the police. "You never know when you will come across a racist police officer," she says in the report.
Discrimination against Latinos in the region constitutes a civil rights crisis that must be addressed, the SPLC report says. The report concludes that comprehensive immigration reform — including a workable path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants — is the only realistic, fair and humane solution.
Reform legislation must be coupled with strong enforcement of labor and civil rights protections. This would make crime victims and communities safer, curb racial profiling and other abuses, and better protect the wages and working conditions of all workers, according to the report.
"We're talking about a matter of basic human rights here," said SPLC President Richard Cohen. "By allowing this cycle of abuse and discrimination to continue, we're creating an underclass of people who are invisible to justice and undermining our country's fundamental ideals."

Graduate Education and the Changing Face of America

Council of Graduate Schools
Press Release April 23, 2009

Report urges national commitment to developing domestic talent

Washington, DC (April 23, 2009) – U.S. graduate education is widely considered the best in the world, attracting top domestic and international students to our nation’s colleges and universities.But there is a leak in the domestic pipeline, particularly in science and engineering. At a time when the need has never been greater for professionals with the advanced, interdisciplinary training required to solve complex problems, some groups remain highly underrepresented in graduate schools, even as our nation becomes increasingly diverse.A new report from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) argues that now is the time to reverse this troubling trend by fully developing our domestic talent pool, particularly people from traditionally underrepresented groups, in order to create the highly-skilled workforce necessary to compete in the 21st century economy.Broadening Participation in Graduate Education was released today at a forum held at the Library of Congress, during which Members of Congress, industry leaders, graduate deans and alumni of programs that successfully increased diversity in graduate schools shared their perspectives on the role of graduate education as a key component of a national talent development strategy.The report urges that the U.S. cultivate talent wherever it exists, with particular emphasis on identifying those from traditionally underrepresented groups. It highlights examples of campus, federal, and private initiatives that have had success in broadening participation in graduate education. The report also offers policy recommendations to increase the number of students prepared to enter graduate school, especially in the critical areas of science and engineering.“This report addresses why our nation must develop our domestic talent pool now to prepare the next generation of leaders, knowledge creators, and experts in a wide spectrum of fields," said Debra W. Stewart, CGS president. “Increasing diversity and enhancing inclusiveness efforts are essential as we work to make graduate education a viable option for a growing number of Americans,” Stewart added.The report distinguishes between diversity, described as expanding access and opportunity, and inclusiveness, defined as the commitment and support structures necessary to ensure that[more]Council of Graduate SchoolsOne Dupont Circle NW, Suite 230 • Washington, DC 20036(202) 223-3791 • www.cgsnet.orgstudents from a multitude of different backgrounds, and in different life situations, achieve degree completion.The report’s recommendations for universities and policy makers are intended to revitalize the historic partnership between higher education, government, and the private sector. They include:• Organizing a national summit on investing in human capital and talent in the 21st century.• Creating incentives for all students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to pursue graduate education in critical fields through competitive fellowships and traineeships, loan forgiveness, and other measures.• Increase inclusiveness within graduate programs by providing students with the support and resources they need to graduate and to succeed.• Expanding U.S. citizen participation in doctoral study in key fields, such as science, engineering, and those that foster global understanding of languages and culture, by enacting a National Defense Education Act for the 21st Century -- one that makes a special effort to develop the full diversity of talent in our nation.More information on the report is available at Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of over 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. Among U.S. institutions, CGS members award 95% of the doctoral degrees and 84% of the master’s degrees.* The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.* Based on data from the 2007 CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reverse discrimination case could transform hiring

The Washington Post
The Associated Press Saturday, April 18, 2009; 3:57 PM

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Inside a burning building, fire doesn't discriminate between Matthew Marcarelli and Gary Tinney. Inside the New Haven Fire Department, however, skin color has put them on opposite sides of a lawsuit that could transform hiring procedures nationwide.
This week, the Supreme Court will consider the reverse discrimination claim of Marcarelli and a group of white firefighters. They all passed a promotion exam, but the city threw out the test because no blacks would have been promoted, saying the exam had a "disparate impact" on minorities likely to violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Besides affecting how race can be considered in filling government and perhaps even private jobs, the dispute also addresses broader questions about racial progress: Do minorities and women still need legal protection from discrimination, or do the monumental civil rights laws that created a more equal nation now cause more harm than good?
Also, beneath the specific details of the firefighters' lawsuit lies an uncomfortable truth: On most standardized tests, regardless of the subject, blacks score lower than whites.
Reconciling that reality with efforts to ensure "justice for all" remains a work in progress _ one that will be molded by the Supreme Court.
New Haven's population is 44 percent white, 36 percent black and 24 percent Hispanic (who can be any race). At the time of the 2003 test, 53 percent of the city's firefighters, 63 percent of lieutenants and 86 percent of captains were white. Blacks were 30 percent of the firefighters, 22 percent of lieutenants and 4 percent of captains.
Tinney, a black lieutenant who has been a firefighter for 14 years, was seeking a promotion to captain when he took the exam.
He says both the test and his fire department have hidden biases against minorities: The department is historically white, with the first blacks joining in 1957, and jobs, relationships, knowledge and choice assignments are passed on from friend to friend and generation to generation.
"I just call it 'the network,'" Tinney says.
The white firefighters' attorney, Karen Torre, said they would not be interviewed for this story. In a conversation on Fox News' "Hannity" program, Marcarelli said it was "gut wrenching" to learn that he was No. 1 on the test but would not get promoted.
"It's something that shakes what you believe in. Because you believe if you work hard, you're rewarded for that, and that's not necessarily the case," Marcarelli said.

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Testing for 'Mismatch'

Inside Higher Ed
Peter Schmidt
April 20, 2009

If members of some minority groups are admitted to elite colleges because of affirmative action -- and don't perform as well as they expected -- does this show a serious flaw in efforts to diversify student bodies?
Critics of affirmative action answer in the affirmative, and this is the basis of the controversial "mismatch" theory -- namely that affirmative action doesn't actually help its intended beneficiaries because they may struggle academically where admitted instead of enrolling at less competitive institutions where they might excel. Mismatch is heatedly debated -- in part because of the political potency of the argument. After all, it allows critics of affirmative action to say that they aren't just worried about white applicants, but about black and Latino students, too.
In a paper released Friday, four scholars at Duke University (three in economics and one in sociology) propose a new way to test for mismatch. They say that much more information is needed than has typically been available in the past. But because they were able to obtain this information for Duke, they argue that a mismatch test is possible. They propose a test in which applicants admitted to an elite university are asked to predict their first-year grades and are then told the average grades earned by members of similar ethnic and racial groups admitted under similar circumstances. In this situation, they argue, students admitted under affirmative action could make an informed judgment on whether they were being mismatched.
The data released by the scholars in explaining their idea could be quite controversial. Private colleges and universities historically release very little information, broken down by race and ethnicity, about the admissions qualifications and subsequent performance of students. Getting even SAT averages by race can be difficult. Duke provided the researchers not only with SAT averages, but with admissions officers' average rankings of admitted students on a five-point scale, by race, as well as the students' own projected first-year grades and actual grades.
Generally, the data show that Asian admitted students had better rankings and scores than all other groups, although their advantage over white students was modest. But Asian and white applicants are generally far above other applicants. And while all groups, on average, overestimated their academic performance in their first year at Duke, black and Latino students had the largest gaps between the performance they expected and what they achieved.
The study, "Does Affirmative Action Lead to Mismatch," is by Peter Arcidiacono, Esteban M. Aucejo, Hanming Fang and Kenneth I. Spenner, and was released by the National Bureau of Economic Research. (An abstract is available here, as is information on how to download the study for $5.)

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Race goals are easier, not better

Jewish World Review
by Clarence Page
April 20, 2009 / 26 Nisan 5769

Here's a quick history quiz for you. Which nationally prominent leader said this?
"Edicts of nondiscrimination are not enough. Justice demands that every citizen consciously adopts a personal commitment to affirmative action, which will make equal opportunity a reality."
Was it the Rev. Jesse Jackson? The Rev. Al Sharpton? Sister Souljah?
No, it was then-Gov. Ronald Reagan of California in his 1971 executive order. He sounded more liberal, at least on this issue, than the racial quota-fighter who became president nine years later.
Times have changed, but on race not all that much, as far as Julian Bond is concerned. The civil rights era hero, now chairman of the NAACP, whipped out that old quote like an ace up his sleeve during a debate at the Library of Congress last week to argue that what was good for Gov. Reagan two generations ago is good enough for America now.
I'm not as certain of that as he is. Sitting in the audience at the debate, I was struck by how much America's persistent problems with race have changed, while so many of our leading affirmative action proponents have not.
Yet I was also struck by how replacing race-based affirmative action with the class-based kind is easier to say than to do, especially at elite colleges and universities.
That's one reason why Bond opposed the evening's proposition: "Should affirmative action be based on wealth and class rather than race and ethnicity?"
President Barack Obama thinks it should, he has said in writing and out loud. "We have to think about affirmative action," he said in at last summer's convention of black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American journalists in Chicago, "and craft it in such a way where some of our children who are advantaged aren't getting more favorable treatment than a poor white kid who has struggled more." It is safe to say that, in the fashion of President Richard Nixon opening doors to China, Obama's position later helped him with white voters and didn't hurt him very much with blacks.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

High Court Poised To Closely Weigh Civil Rights Laws

The Washington Post
Cases Heard as Nation Debates Race

By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Supreme Court has an opportunity to reaffirm or reshape the nation's civil rights laws as it faces a rare confluence of cases over the next two weeks, including a high-profile challenge brought by white firefighters who claim they lost out on promotions because of the "color of their skin."
The cases also touch on the Voting Rights Act, the need to provide English classes for immigrant children and, more tangentially, discriminatory mortgage lending.
The most emotionally charged case is from the New Haven, Conn., firefighters, whose complaints define the real-life quandary that sometimes accompanies government efforts to ensure racial equality.
The firefighters accuse city officials of violating civil rights laws and the Constitution by throwing out a promotions test on which they performed well but no blacks scored high enough to be eligible. The city responds that relying on test results with such wide racial discrepancies could have violated federal law and left them open to being sued by minorities.
The court will hear the arguments, along with the others, in the midst of an evolving national conversation about the role of race and diversity and in the wake of the historic presidential election.

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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Panelists to Discuss Work-Life Balance in an Economic Downturn; EEOC to Issue Employer Best Practices Document

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a public meeting at 10 a.m. (Eastern Time), Wednesday, April 22, to address best practices to avoid discrimination against workers with caregiving responsibilities. The meeting, at agency headquarters, 131 M Street, N.E., is open for public observation of the Commission’s deliberations, in accordance with the Sunshine Act.
Following the announcement of notation votes, the Commission is scheduled to hear from invited expert panelists on the importance of caregiver-friendly workplace policies in economic hard times. The panelists are:
Cynthia Calvert, Deputy Director, The Center for WorkLife Law
Karen Minatelli, Director of Work and Family Programs, National Partnership for Women and Families
Heather Boushey, Senior Economist, Center for American Progress
Jeff Norris, President, Equal Employment Advisory Council
Prior to the panel presentation, the EEOC Office of Legal Counsel will present a new document, Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities. The new document, which will be released to the public at the meeting, will supplement formal guidance issued by the Commission in 2007 on how EEOC-enforced laws apply to employees with caregiving responsibilities.
Any matter not discussed or concluded may be carried over to a later meeting. The Commission agenda is subject to revision. You may call (202) 663-7100 (voice) or (202) 663-4074 (TTY) on the day of the Commission Meeting to confirm the above schedule.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information about the Commission is available on its web site at


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Hispanic, Black Employees Subjected to Racial and Ethnic Slurs, Agency Charged

MIAMI – National department store Nordstrom, Inc. will pay $292,500 to 10 former employees and furnish other remedial measures to settle a harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. EEOC had charged that the department store manager harassed Hispanic and black employees based on their national origin, race, and color, and retaliated against those who complained about the harassment.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an alterations department manager complained that she “hate[d] Hispanics,” and that Hispanics were “lazy” and “ignorant.” Hispanic tailors were chastised by the alterations manager for speaking to each other in Spanish. The same manager made other derogatory remarks such as “I don’t like blacks” and “you’re black, you stink.” The alterations manager harassed the alterations staff at Nordstrom stores in Palm Beach Gardens and Wellington, Fla.
The employees complained to Nordstrom about the harassment, but the harassment did not stop. The alteration’s manager retaliated against those who complained by continuing the racially offensive comments, unfairly berating employees and citing them for alleged performance problems.
Acting Chairman of the EEOC, Stuart J. Ishimaru, stated, “It does not matter whether someone is employed on the sales floor or, as in this case, working behind the scenes, the EEOC will pursue instances of harassment in violation of federal employment discrimination laws.”
Under the terms of a consent decree, Nordstrom will pay $292,500 in damages. The decree also requires the company to distribute its policy addressing unlawful harassment to all employees in the Wellington and Palm Beach stores; provide harassment training, post a notice on the resolution of the lawsuit, and submit a semi-annual report to EEOC on all harassment complaints received during the next two years.
“Employers must act swiftly to correct harassment and prevent abusive conduct,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Nora E. Curtin. “Instead of dealing with the despicable racial and ethnic comments, Nordstrom management allowed the harasser to retaliate against the employees for complaining.”
EEOC District Director Jacqueline H. McNair added, “We are pleased that Nordstrom and the EEOC reached a satisfactory resolution of this lawsuit. The resolution includes significant equitable relief that will benefit all Nordstrom employees. We trust that additional training and the proposed policy will improve the work environment, and emphasize a commitment to preventing further discrimination.”
Harassment based on national origin, race, and color violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit on Sept. 27, 2007, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Palm Beach Division (Case No. 07-80894-CIV-RYSKAMP/VITUNAC), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation, voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

Applicability Date for E-Verify Federal Contractor Rule Extended

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

WASHINGTON—The applicability date of the final rule requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to begin using U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) E-Verify system has been pushed back by six weeks to June 30, 2009.
The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (collectively known as the Federal Acquisitions Regulatory Councils) will publish an amendment in the Federal Register tomorrow postponing the applicability of the final rule until June 30, 2009. The rule requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to agree to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their employees was first published on Nov. 14, 2008, and went into effect on Jan 19, 2009.
The extension provides the Administration an adequate opportunity to review the entire rule prior to its applicability to federal contractors and subcontractors.For more information on E-Verify, visit

Related Files
Applicability Date for E-Verify Federal Contractor Rule Extended (27KB PDF)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Scholars Debate the Efficacy of Race Versus Class-based Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
by Michelle J. Nealy
Apr 17, 2009, 10:26

Substituting class for race-conscious affirmative action may be more politically palatable, but it does little to improve racial diversity on college campuses, said affirmative action proponents at a debate Thursday evening.
“Substituting class for race may make some more comfortable with affirmative action, but it makes poor policy,” said NAACP chairman Julian Bond, during a debate between four activists and scholars on whether class-based affirmative action should replace race-conscious admissions.
The debate came as race-based opportunity policies have been impeded by statewide referendums. Last November, Nebraska became the latest state, behind California, Michigan and Washington, to ban affirmative action. In a sign of where diversity policies are headed, the Supreme Court two years ago ruled that public school administrators should use socioeconomic status, not race, to integrate segregated public schools.
Arguing in favor of class-based preferences in college admissions at a debate held at the Library of Congress, Dr. John McWhorter rejected policies that lower standards for Black and Hispanic students in an effort to increase diversity.
“If you set the bar low, that is the kind of performance you will get. [Moreover] there is no evidence that the presence of Black and Latino students significantly improves education,” said McWhorter, senior fellow for the Manhattan Institute.
There is also the argument that the beneficiaries of race-based affirmative action policies are middle- to upper-class Black and Hispanic students, not necessarily those from underprivileged backgrounds.
Class-based policies, proponents say, may generate more public support since lower-and middle-class White are often the casualties in race-based affirmative action.
Still Bond, a civil rights icon, insists that using class as a substitution for race would be an abandonment of affirmative as it was intended.
“Affirmative action resulted from an American consensus,” Bond said, as “a remedy for past racial injustices. Changes in our society, not least in the election of our first African-American president, do not signal a change in our racial temperature so significant that race-conscious affirmative action can now be discarded.”
Adding to Bond’s argument, Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University and a prominent advocate of affirmative action said succinctly, “You will not get racial diversity if you just rely on class and wealth. This has been studied by many. If you use only income, you will only increase the proportion of White students.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009


Vol. 15, No. 3,659 - The American Reporter - April 16, 2009
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
Dummerston, Vt.

DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- I was surprised to see that President Bush would take time out from the "war on terror" to denounce affirmative action. I was even more surprised that President Bush and his handlers picked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday to launch his attack.
This was either yet another example of unbridled arrogance by the Bush team or a stunning show of cluelessness. But given the Republican Party's long-standing hostility to anything that might cut into white privilege, it's safe to assume the Bush administration consciously chose Jan. 15 to offer its support to a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the University of Michigan's affirmative action program.
Even more than arrogance or cluelessness, President Bush's pronouncement dripped with hypocrisy. Here's a man who was a mediocre student who got into Yale because he was the son of a wealthy and politically connected alumnus attacking a public institution's program that attempts to give a similar boost to minority applicants.
So, what's the fuss about?
The University of Michigan awards bonus points in the admission process to black, Native American and certain Latino students. Out of the 150 points required to gain admission, a student's grades are worth up to 80 points. The quality of the applicant's high school and the academic rigor of its courses are worth up to 18 points. And being a minority applicant is worth 20 points.
Those 20 points haven't made much of a difference in the number of minority students at the University of Michigan. The state's population is 14 percent black, but the undergraduate population at the university is only 8.4 percent black. The university's law school, the target of the lawsuit, fares even worse; only 6.7 percent of its students are black, and the law school has said that percentage would drop to 4 percent without affirmative action.
That so few students are being helped is not surprising. Even with programs like Michigan's, white students still comprise about 80 percent of the total student population at private and public four-year colleges and universities, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
President Bush trotted out the old Republican code word for affirmative action - "quotas" - in his attack on Michigan's program. But students aren't being selected or rejected solely on their ethnicity in Michigan or at any other college or university. To say otherwise is a lie.
Affirmative action has never been about quotas. It's not about offering opportunities to unqualified people. It's not reverse discrimination against whites. It's merely giving underrepresented groups of people greater access to academic institutions and the workplace.
Why is affirmative action needed? Because of the way the odds are stacked against blacks in general, and black men in particular, from the cradle to the grave.

Full Commentary:,659/2031.html

Glass ceiling

The Cavalier Daily
Maria Chee
Sent: Thursday, April 9 2009

A glass ceiling often exists for women and ethnic minority groups in academia as in corporate America. It is an invisible and artificial cap on advancement, a bar to leadership level seen but not reached. It results from socioeconomic and political structural conditions, historical legacy, power relations, cultural interactions and lived experiences, among others, not from these people’s preference for supporting roles.
Asian Americans in the workforce have reported difficulty getting mentors or sponsors and exclusion from informal networks. Traditionally, Asian Americans have concentrated in the science, technology, engineering and math — the STEM disciplines, although that has been changing. Many naturalized citizens and immigrants arrived as adults for doctoral training. Some have cited the lack of competitive communication skills, social capital, and cultural understanding for operation in American organizations. Those who are American born or raised also encounter obstacles. For example, behaviors appropriate in their cultural milieu are perceived to be lacking leadership caliber in corporate America, not unlike women and other ethnic minorities.
The Asian American population is highly heterogeneous; categorically it faces the “foreigner” stereotype. Individuals and media continue to perceive and portray them as foreigners. U.S. born Asian children who are similar to other American children are found to be subject to persistent disadvantages merely because they look foreign. Glass ceiling can involve unintended and implicit biases reflected in people’s attitudinal orientations and institutional practices. The above provides just a few perspectives.

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The Wrong Fight Against Discrimination

The Chronicle of Higher Education
From the issue dated September 26, 2008

The enemies of diversity are hoisting a glass every night these days. All over the country, they have succeeded — or are making a serious run at success — in undoing efforts to increase diversity in academe and other sectors of society. That is because they are getting those of us who support diversity to fight the wrong battle, under the wrong conditions, on a field chosen by our foes.
We who think that colleges and universities in a healthy society will reflect that society's population have been guilt-whipped into defending a process at the expense of a goal. We have grown up with the phrases "affirmative action" and "equal opportunity" chained together as though their meaning were the same, which it is not. The enemy has hornswoggled us into thinking that in order to improve diversity on campuses and in public employment, we have to defend affirmative action as though it were Little Round Top at Gettysburg.
Affirmative action is a process, a means to an end. It is a relatively recent governmental invention intended to accomplish a particular task, which is primarily to ensure that employers recruit people from ethnic and racial groups not historically represented in socially acceptable numbers in the ranks of the employed. The societal goal, however, is equal opportunity: ensuring that people don't get screened out of opportunities based on factors unrelated to job performance. Those two concepts exist independently.
There came a point a few years ago when we should have said to the opponents of equal opportunity: "All right, if you don't think affirmative action is the best way to increase the presence of people with dark skin in our universities and public agencies, fine. Tell us what your plan is."
We should have called their monumental bluff. They have no plan. They don't care what happens to dark-skinned, low-income children; they neither have nor know any.
But the important fact is that we don't need affirmative action anyway. Affirmative action — and its sorry linguistic hangers-on, like quotas, opportunity adjustments, and geographic balancers — simply doesn't add much to what any sensible employer today would do anyway, and antidiscrimination laws can handle the rest.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Diversity: The Obama Effect

Workforce Management
February 2009

Experts believe the election of the first African-American president of the United States will redefine workplace diversity, placing a greater emphasis on multiculturalism and socioeconomic status. By Jessica Marquez

In many ways, Subha Barry believes her job will be easier now that the United States has its first African-American president. She was having lunch at a diversity conference in Hong Kong when the organizers broadcast President-elect Barack Obama’s November 4 victory speech in Chicago.
"I remember thinking that the job of any supporter of diversity is going to be much easier because we now have this visual symbol in the most powerful role in the world," says Barry, managing director of global diversity and inclusion at Merrill Lynch.
But Barry also realizes that with Obama’s presidency comes a new set of challenges—the most game-changing of which will be how his position raises the bar in defining diversity. No longer will it be sufficient for companies to simply consider race, sex and religion in silos, Barry says. Experts believe there will be more focus on multicultural as well as socioeconomic diversity within the workplace.
"In this country, we have these constructs that view race in a one-dimensional perspective. But in other countries the consideration of race is more complex, so he is viewed as multicultural," says Ana Duarte McCarthy, chief diversity officer at Citigroup. "The fact that Obama is multicultural will put more focus on what it means to be multicultural."
Obama’s father was born in Kenya, and his mother was an American from the Midwest.
At the same time, Obama has spoken about the need for more socioeconomic diversity in higher education, and experts expect that to spill into the workplace.
"There has started to be chatter online about a move toward class-based affirmative action," says Tarun Mehta, an attorney in the San Francisco office of Bryan Cave. This could mean that employers will have to take into account socioeconomic differences as part of their diversity initiatives.
But before companies can even think about working on these more sophisticated diversity initiatives, they will have to address a slew of new challenges that are expected under Obama’s administration. These include increased criticism of affirmative action policies by opponents as well as greater enforcement of affirmative action policies by the government.
All of this comes as companies face the biggest economic crisis in years. A Conference Board survey of CEOs released in October found that having a diverse workforce fell in importance by four rankings since last summer, while reducing health care costs jumped seven rankings.
"It’s probably going to be more difficult for HR to get the CEO’s attention on these kinds of issues right now," says Toni Riccardi, senior vice president of HR and chief diversity officer at the Conference Board. "It’s not that diversity is less important to employers; it’s just that other things are more important."
Election’s impact Within days of the election, HR executives already were hearing arguments from critics of affirmative action saying that Obama’s victory was a sign that there isn’t a need for diversity policies, says Lewis Benavides, vice president for HR at Texas Woman’s University and a member of the Society for Human Resource Management’s special-expertise panel on workplace diversity. A similar concern was raised by several SHRM diversity panel members at a meeting November 10 in Alexandria, Virginia, Benavides says.
"There is an acknowledgement that when the highest officer of the land is an African-American, there will be people who will say, ‘Why do we need these programs anymore?’ " he says.
It’s an issue particularly for companies with voluntary diversity programs, experts say. Companies may also see an increase in reverse-discrimination lawsuits from white males, Mehta says.
"Given the economic conditions, it might not be hard for opponents of affirmative action to find possible plaintiffs for these cases," he says.
At the same time, companies with affirmative action policies in place can expect that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs will have more resources under Obama and be more aggressive about enforcing affirmative action policies.
The majority of Fortune 1,000 companies have contracts with the government, and thus have affirmative action policies, experts say.
Under the George W. Bush administration, agencies like the OFCCP saw their budgets cut, so they weren’t as effective as they could have been, says Renee Dunman, president of the Affirmative Action Association, a group of diversity and affirmative action officers from private and public organizations. In fiscal 2008, President George W. Bush requested a budget of $84.2 million for the OFCCP, down from $85.2 million in 2006 and significantly down from the $92.3 million requested in 2001. "I think Obama is going to look at that budget and say, ‘No wonder you can’t do the compliance piece,’ " she says.

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Blacks and Mexican Americans Disproportionately Denied Law School Admittance

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
by Ronald Roach
Apr 15, 2009, 08:36

Despite an increase in capacity, law schools have been admitting fewer African-American and Mexican American students over the last 15 years.

As director of the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic at the Columbia University Law School, law professor Conrad Johnson knows that digital technology has the power to highlight and amplify social justice concerns and to enable people to take direct action. Under Johnson’s leadership, the clinic has developed and maintained the Columbia-hosted Web site titled “A Disturbing Trend in Law School Diversity,” which highlights more than a decade of declining to stagnant African-American and Mexican American enrollment at U.S. law schools.
“What we tried to do in this study is something we haven’t seen done very often (and that) is to measure the trends of inclusiveness in the context of the capacity of law schools to take in students, which has increased by 10 percent over the last 15 years,” Johnson says.
The Web site features 12 graphs taken from Law School Admission Council (LSAC) data showing how first-year African-American and Mexican American enrollment has declined 8.6 percent, from a total of 3,937 in 1992 to 3,595 in 2005. The Web site notes that in 1992 there were 176 accredited U.S. law schools and by 2006 that total had increased to 195 accredited schools, offering a gain of nearly 4,000 first-year seats for law school students. It’s also shown that, while African-American and Mexican American applicants have endured falling admissions rates, their undergraduate grade point averages and Law School Admission Test scores have improved during the same period.
“Instead of measuring this year against last year, we decided to say ‘let’s look at 15 years and let’s look at LSAT scores, GPAs and capacities of law schools to take in new students,’ and I think that’s going to be particularly important to continue to monitor the fuller picture as opposed to a small slice of the picture,” Johnson notes.
More recently, the American Bar Association reported that first-year African-American law school enrollment went from 3,107 in 2005-2006 to 3,516 in 2006-2007 and fell to 3,486 in 2007-2008. First-year Mexican American law school enrollment went from 851 in 2005-2006 to 915 in 2006-2007 and fell to 888 in 2007-2008.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

DOL Regulations Enforcing "Beck Poster" Rule Rescinded

On January 30, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13496, revoking Executive Order 13201, which required Government contractors and subcontractors to post to inform their employees that under Federal law they have certain rights related to union membership and the use of union dues and fees -- the "Beck Poster" rule. Under the now-rescinded rule, contractors were to post notice of employees' statutorily-protected "Beck" rights, including their rights not to join a labor union and to object to the use of their agency-fee payments for purposes unrelated to collective bargaining. In revoking the rule, Obama replaced the Bush mandate with a broader obligation requiring federal contractors to inform employees of all rights protected under the NLRA, not just Beck rights. This more balanced approach presumably will require contractors also to post notice of employees' rights to join a union and of the protections from interference or retaliation embodied in the Act. Obama's EO instructs the Secretary of Labor to initiate rulemaking to prescribe the actual content of the notice. The DOL Office of Labor- Management Standards (OLMS) enforces these rules.

On March 30, the Department of Labor issued a notice that the regulations implementing the "Beck" rule were rescinded. See the notice below:

Office of Labor-Management Standards
29 CFR Part 470
RIN 1215-AB71

Obligation of Federal Contractors and Subcontractors; Notice of Employee Rights Concerning Payment of Union Dues or FeesAGENCY: Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employment Standards Administration, Labor.
ACTION: Final rule; rescission of regulations.------

SUMMARY: This final rule rescinds the regulations found at 29 CFR part 470, which implemented Executive Order 13201. Executive Order 13496, signed by President Obama on January 30, 2009 and published in the Federal Register on February 4, 2009, revoked Executive Order 13201, thus removing the authority under which such regulations were promulgated. Accordingly, the Secretary of Labor (the ``Secretary'') is issuing this final rule to rescind the regulations that implement and enforce the now-revoked Executive Order 13201.

DATES: Effective Date: March 30, 2009.FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Denise M. Boucher, Director, Office of Policy Reports and Disclosure, Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employment Standards Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Suite N-5609, Washington, DC 20210, (202) 693-1185. This number is not toll-free.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On January 30, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13496, which revokes Executive Order 13201 and instructs executive departments and agencies to revoke any orders, rules, regulations, or policies implementing or enforcing Executive Order 13201. Executive Order 13496, Section 13, 74 FR 6107 (February 4, 2009). Pursuant to the now-revoked Executive Order 13201, the Secretary promulgated[[Page 14046]]regulations implementing and enforcing its terms, 29 CFR Part 470, which required government contractors and subcontractors to post notices informing their employees of certain rights under federal law. These regulations also required federal contracting agencies and covered government contractors and subcontractors to include certain provisions of the Order in their contracts, subcontracts, and purchase orders. Because Executive Order 13496 expressly revokes Executive Order 13201, the authority for the Secretary's implementing regulations at 29 CFR Part 470 no longer exists. As a result, the implementing regulations are now without force and effect, and the Secretary no longer enforces them. Consequently, this final rule rescinds these regulations. The Secretary has determined that it need not publish the rescission of these regulations as a proposed rule, as generally required by the Administrative Procedure Act (``APA''), 5 U.S.C. 553(b). Notice to the public and provision of a public comment period for this rule are unnecessary because Executive Order 13201, which authorized 29 CFR Part 470, has been revoked, and, therefore, no legal basis exists for these regulations. Furthermore, Section 13 of Executive Order 13496 provides that regulations implementing Executive Order 13201 shall be promptly revoked. Therefore, good cause exists for dispensing with the notice and comment requirements of the APA. 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). For the same reasons, good cause exists to make this rule effective immediately upon publication of this rule. 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).Regulatory ProceduresExecutive Order 12866 This final rule has been drafted and reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12866, section 1(b), Principles of Regulation. The Department has determined that this rule is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under Executive Order 12866, section 3(f), Regulatory Planning and Review. The Department has also determined that this rule is not ``economically significant'' as defined in section 3(f)(1) of Executive Order 12866. Therefore, the information enumerated in section 6(a)(3)(C) of the order is not required.Regulatory Flexibility Act This rescission is not a rule as defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601(2) and 604(a)) because a general notice of proposed rulemaking was not published nor an opportunity for notice and public comment provided in connection therewith. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act is not required. The Secretary has certified this conclusion to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.Unfunded Mandates Reform Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995--This rule will not include any Federal mandate that may result in increased expenditures by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, of $100 million or more, or in increased expenditures by the private sector of $100 million or more.Paperwork Reduction Act This rule contains no new information collection requirements for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 804 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of the United States-based companies to compete with foreign-based companies in domestic and export markets.List of Subjects in 29 CFR Part 470 Administrative practice and procedure, Government contracts, Union dues, Labor unions.0Accordingly, pursuant to Executive Order 13496 and for the reasons stated herein, the Secretary hereby amends Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Subchapter C, by removing Part 470 and reserving it for future use. Authority: Executive Order 13496. Signed in Washington, DC, this 24th day of March, 2009.Shelby Hallmark,Acting Assistant Secretary for Employment Standards.Andrew D. Auerbach,Deputy Director, Office of Labor-Management Standards.[FR Doc. E9-6926 Filed 3-27-09; 8:45 am]


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Black Employees Targeted With Racial Slurs, Fired for Complaining, EEOC Says

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Marjam Supply Company, Inc., a building materials supplier, will pay $495,000 to five former employees to settle a race discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 03-cv-5413-SCR in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, White Plains Division) charged that Marjam discriminated against African American employees in its Newburgh warehouse facility on the basis of their race by subjecting them to differential discipline and termination, creating a hostile work environ­ment, and retaliating against employees who objected to the discrimination.
The EEOC charged that a Marjam supervisor and other Marjam employees made unwelcome racial slurs and comments. The racially hostile workplace included repeatedly calling an employee the N-word, talking about the Ku Klux Klan and referring to burning crosses in front of African American employees. An employee who complained was fired, the EEOC’s lawsuit charged. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
“Egregious racial harassment still occurs in the 21st century workplace, even though some people may think such discrimination can only be found in history books,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Hostile work environments are unacceptable. The EEOC is committed to vigorous enforcement of the employment anti-discrimination laws to ensure that every worker has an equal opportunity to reach his or her full potential.”The consent decree was sub­mitted to the district court judge for approval after the parties reached a settlement agreement in mediation. In addition to the $495,000 in back pay and compensatory damages to be paid to five former employees, the three-year consent decree includes the following injunctive relief:
Adopting non-discrimination and complaint procedures;
Appointing an Equal Employment Office Coordinator;
Establishing a toll-free number for reporting discrimination complaints;
Providing anti-discrimination training;
Issuing a memorandum to all employees on Marjam’s commitment to abide by all federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination;
Posting a notice about the EEOC, the lawsuit, and Marjam’s non-discrimination and complaint procedures; and
Monitoring and reporting on carrying out the settlement terms.
“Employers must recognize that they have a responsibility to prevent racial harassment in their workplace and to take swift action to correct any discrimination when it occurs,” said Spencer H. Lewis, director of the EEOC’s New York District Office. “In addition, retaliating against employees for complaining about discrimination is unlawful and taken very seriously by the Commission.”
During Fiscal Year 2008, the EEOC received 33,937 race discrimination charge filings, up 11% from the prior year. Of the total, approximately 8,600 race charges alleged racial harassment, up 23 percent from nearly 7,000 such filings in FY 2007.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the federal agency is available on its web site at

Orientation for Whites

Inside Higher Ed
April 13, 2009

Many colleges have special orientation programs, prior to those offered for all entering students, for those who are from minority groups. The idea is that minority students entering a predominantly white college benefit from talking about the issues they may face, and connecting with fellow minority students and with groups on campus that help them. The programs have also been criticized over the years -- and sometimes abandoned as a result -- for segregating students at the start of college.
Mount Holyoke College, which has for many years had a voluntary program for minority students in advance of the general orientation, plans this year to start a special section at the same time, also voluntary, for white students from the United States. (There is also a mandatory pre-orientation for international students.) Over three and a half days, the white and minority students will spend time separately and together, talking about race, before they join the four-day program for all new students.
Joyce Holl, executive director of the National Association of Orientation Directors, said that she had never before heard of a college creating a program at orientation for white students. She said she believed a minority of orientation programs have special options for minority students, and that the majority of orientations are -- in their entirety -- for all students.
As Mount Holyoke's plans have been discussed on some Web sites for college students, reaction has been mixed, but some of those reacting appear to think that the idea is to keep minority and white students completely apart. Elizabeth Braun, dean of students at the college, said that the reality is that that two groups will probably spend more than half of the program time together, but will also have time to meet separately as white and minority students.

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