Thursday, May 28, 2009

Court Upholds Law School's Denial of Funds for Christian Group

Inside Higher Ed
May 28, 2009

A federal district court judge has backed the University of Montana law school's decision to deny financial support to a Christian student group that barred as members students who won't sign its statement of faith or who engage in or advocate homosexual sex. The decision last week upheld a magistrate judge's 2008 opinion that the law school did not violate the First Amendment rights of a Christian Legal Society chapter that sought funds through the school's student fee process.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ursula Burns to head Xerox, will be first black woman to be CEO of Fortune 500 company

Daily News - Money
BY Heidi Evans
Saturday, May 23rd 2009, 4:00 AM

Ursula Burns, president of Xerox Corp., will become the company's CEO this summer.
The new head of Xerox Corp. is a native New Yorker who grew up in a lower East Side housing project.
Xerox will be the first Fortune 500 company headed by a black woman when Ursula Burns, 50, takes the reigns this summer.
Burns replaces Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy, 56, who told shareholders Thursday she would be retiring in July and had picked her lieutenant as her successor.
Burns climbed the corporate ladder at Xerox, beginning as a summer engineering intern in 1980 and rising to president of the printing giant in 2002.
As president, Burns oversaw a large chunk of the company's operations including overseas research and development, engineering, manufacturing and marketing.
She helped to build Xerox into the world's largest maker of high-speed color printers.
Last year, Burns ranked 10th on Fortune magazine's top 50 Most Powerful Women in America. She's the second-highest placed African-American woman behind only Oprah Winfrey, who was ranked No. 8.
Reached at their Rochester home Friday, Burns' teenaged daughter, Melissa, 16, called her mom "a great person, a wonderful inspiration."
"She has taken us back to the old neighborhood a few times," said Melissa, a reference to Delancey St. on Manhattan's lower East Side. "Apparently it's a lot better now than it was when she was growing up."
Burns, who attended Cathedral High School, was the middle of three children from two different absentee fathers.
In a 2003 interview with the New York Times, she described growing up poor in "the projects" - with "lots of Jewish immigrants, fewer Hispanics and African-Americans, but the common denominator and great equalizer was poverty."
Burns' mother took in ironing and ran a home day care center so she could send her kids to Catholic schools.
Burns, a math whiz, graduated from Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn with an engineering degree. She got a master's degree in mechanical engineering in 1981 from Columbia University.

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Supreme stats: 106 white males among 110 justices

The Associated Press
By MARK SHERMAN – May 20, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — If President Barack Obama wants to make the Supreme Court more diverse, he has a wider range of options than any of his predecessors. When Ronald Reagan was president, only about 40 women served on the federal bench, the most common source of Supreme Court nominees.
Today, more than 200 women hold federal judgeships, along with 88 African-Americans, 60 Hispanics and eight Asian-Americans.
All but four of the 110 Supreme Court justices in the nation's history have been white men. Two are African-American men, Clarence Thomas and the late Thurgood Marshall, and two are white women, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor.
There has never been a Hispanic, Asian-American or Native American justice.
Ginsburg is the only female justice at the moment and most of the candidates whom Obama is considering are women.
The president also has a much wider range of experienced lawyers to draw from than Reagan did when he reached down to a midlevel appeals court in Arizona to nominate O'Connor.
"The pool was simply not as broad or as deep as it is now," said Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center.
Before Jimmy Carter came to the White House in 1977, presidents beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt had put just eight women on the federal bench. Carter added 40 female federal judges in four years, including Ginsburg.
Today, 212 full-time federal judges are women, more than a quarter of the federal judiciary.

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Sotomayor Is Pragmatic, Empathetic Lawyers Say

New York Law Journal
By Mark Hamblett
May 15, 2009

Lawyers who have appeared before Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who is on the short list of candidates being considered for an upcoming vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, described her as an aggressive questioner who comes to the bench prepared and, although she is regarded as a member of the more liberal wing of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a pragmatist who would bring a different perspective to the high court. Veteran practitioner Max Gitter of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton said Judge Sotomayor would be a "great choice" for President Barack Obama to fill the seat created by the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter, because she has a keen awareness of the human consequences of a court's opinion."She has more than just legal smarts," Mr. Gitter said. "She really keeps her ear to the ground."Elkin Abramowitz of Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer sees Judge Sotomayor as a "natural" pick for the president."I think she's solid, as far as I can see there is no political bias one way or another," Mr. Abramowitz said. "I think that, like Obama, she's a pragmatist and a hard worker."Judge Sotomayor, 54, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at 8, lost her father one year later and she and her younger brother were raised in the Bronx by their mother, a professional nurse.Hard work led her to Princeton University, where she graduated summa cum laude in 1976, and then Yale School, where she graduated in 1979.After spending the next five years as a prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, she moved to the commercial litigation firm Pavia & Harcourt until 1992, when her nomination to the bench in the Southern District by President George H.W. Bush, made on the recommendation of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. She became the first Hispanic woman named to the federal bench in New York.While at the Southern District, Judge Sotomayor effectively ended the Major League Baseball players strike in 1995 when, after scolding the lawyers for baseball club owners, she granted an injunction sought by the National Labor Relations Board.In 1997, she handed Manhattan lawyer William Duker (briefly a partner of the recently sentenced Marc Dreier) two years and nine months in prison for defrauding the federal government. Judge Sotomayor said she reached the sentence after balancing the harm Mr. Duker caused by inflating his bills by $1.4 million with the good he had performed by recovering millions of dollars from failed savings and loans.In 1998, Judge Sotomayor ruled that two business improvement districts, the Grand Central Partnership and the 34th Street Partnership, violated the minimum wage laws by paying homeless people they hired only $1 to $1.50 an hour and denying them overtime.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

American Association for Affirmative Action Expresses Strong Support for the President’s Nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to Serve on the Court

Association applauds the President for acting “affirmatively” to promote equal opportunity in the selection of the Hispanic female nominee

For Immediate Release: May 26, 2009

Washington, D.C. – The American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), an association of equal employment opportunity (EEO), diversity and affirmative action professionals founded in 1974, announced strong support for the decision by President Barack Obama to nominate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. AAAA’s President, ReNeĆ© S. Dunman, stated that, “The President has demonstrated by his actions the essence of affirmative action: selecting a person who is qualified to serve and who comes from a group that has been historically unrepresented on the Supreme Court of the United States.” Dunman added, “By selecting Judge Sotomayor, President Obama has cracked one of the most persistent glass ceilings in the legal profession.”

As did many students who were virtually the first minorities and women to attend Ivy League and other prestigious colleges and universities in the late sixties and seventies, Judge Sotomayor took full advantage of her opportunity, graduating summa cum laude from Princeton University and serving as a member of the Yale Law Journal. She subsequently worked as a prosecutor and corporate lawyer, and when she joined the judiciary, she gained experience both as a trial court judge in the U. S. District Court’s Southern District of New York, and an appellate court judge, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Ms. Dunman stated, “Like the president who nominated her, when the door of opportunity opened, excellence walked through.”

Judge Sotomayor is widely admired as a judge with a sophisticated grasp of legal doctrine and a keen awareness of the law’s impact on everyday life. She understands that upholding the rule of law means going beyond legal theory to ensure consistent, fair, common-sense application of the law to real-world facts.

AAAA hopes that the Senate will welcome Judge Sotomayor and will execute its Constitutional responsibility fully and fairly in the weeks to come. Ms. Dunman added: “We look forward to seeing a Court that is more diverse and represents all Americans on the First Monday in October.”

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UVA Diversity Chief Appointed Top Post at International Reading Association

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
by Diverse Staff
May 26, 2009, 08:46

Known for his expertise on diversity in postsecondary institutions, Dr. William B. Harvey, the University of Virginia’s vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity, will employ his aptitude in a different arena when he assumes the executive director position at The International Reading Association (IRA) on Aug. 1, 2009.

During his four years at UVA, Harvey helped recruit and retain faculty, staff and students from historically underrepresented groups. Now, as the incoming leader for the IRA, Harvey will be promoting literacy instruction and research for students who are often underserved.

“IRA, in my mind, has the capacity to do a tremendous amount of good for untold numbers of people around the world," Harvey said in an official statement. "I'm greatly excited about the opportunity to provide direction and leadership, and I hope the best days of the association are ahead of us."

According to an IRA release, Harvey was selected for his “depth of understanding on the shaping of partnerships, policy and educational reform as a result of his experience directing major programs at the university level,” and for his “extensive administrative experience and his understanding of the education field.”

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High court candidate’s ruling scrutinized

New Haven Register
Published: Sunday, May 10, 2009
By Mary E. O’Leary, Register Topics Editor

NEW HAVEN — Judge Sonia Sotomayor has a lot going for her, as President Barack Obama looks to fill the soon-to-be-vacated seat held by Justice David H. Souter.With 16 years of experience in the federal courts, the last 11 as a member of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, she has been described as a smart, hard worker, who takes no nonsense and expects litigants to be on their toes.Her high-profile decisions include, among others, ending the eight-month long baseball strike in 1995, by siding with labor, and allowing the Wall Street Journal to publish the suicide note of Vincent Foster.Sotomayor’s opinions have been characterized as moderate to liberal and she has not been afraid to disagree with the government on cases involving the White House and the religious rights of prisoners, according to analysts.But the case that will likely get the most scrutiny, if she is nominated, is Ricci v. DeStefano, New Haven’s firefighter case, which is seen as a major referendum on affirmative action with a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court expected this spring.Sotomayor was on a three-judge panel at the 2nd District Court of Appeals that upheld New Haven’s decision to throw out the test results, where 19 white firefighters and one Hispanic would have been promoted, but no blacks.The panel was criticized by Circuit Judge Jose A. Cabranes for adopting in full the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton without any elaboration or affirmation, something that is usually reserved for clear-cut, uncomplicated cases.“The questions raised in this appeal cannot be classified as such, as they are indisputably complex and far from well-settled,” Cabranes wrote for the dissenters in a 7-6 vote in which he failed to convince the full court to rehear the appeal.The case goes to the application of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause and Title VII’s prohibition on discriminatory employment practices and has generated discussion across the political spectrum.The question is can a city ignore the results of an exam, which was written to ensure race-neutrality, if it “yielded too many applicants of one race and not enough of another?” Cabranes asked.

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Obama To Nominate Sonia Sotomayor To Supreme Court

CBS News Interactive
May 26, 2009 7:36 am US/Central
Sotomayor Will Be First Hispanic On The Court, If Confirmed

President Barack Obama tapped U.S. Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court on Tuesday, officials said, making her the first Hispanic in history picked to wear the robes of a justice.If confirmed by the Senate, Sotomayor, 54, would succeed retiring Justice David Souter. Two officials described Obama's decision on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.Administration officials say Sotomayor would bring more judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice confirmed in the past 70 years.A formal announcement was expected at midmorning.Obama had said publicly he wanted a justice who combined intellect and empathy -- the ability to understand the troubles of everyday Americans.Democrats hold a large majority in the Senate, and barring the unexpected, Sotomayor's confirmation should be assured.If approved, she would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the current court.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Black Woman Named Publisher of The Chronicle of Higher Education

Journal of Blacks in Higher Education
May 21, 2009

Mireille Grangenois was recently appointed publisher of The Chronicle of Higher Education, the weekly newspaper that is widely read by college faculty and administrators across the United States. Grangenois was a managing director in multicultural advertising, marketing, branding, and public relations at the Washington, D.C., office of Burson-Marsteller, a leading public relations firm. Previously, she was vice president for advertising at the Baltimore Sun. She started her career as a reporter for the newspaper. Grangenois is a graduate of New York University.

Ledbetter All Over Again

Alliance for Justice
ATT v. Hulteen - Decision 05/18/09

Lily Ledbetter became a national leader in the fight against sex discrimination after the Supreme Court overturned a jury’s finding that Goodyear had systematically paid her less than her male co-workers. Noreen Hulteen is the latest victim of a Supreme Court that fails to acknowledge the realities of discrimination against women in the workplace.
On Monday, May 18, the Supreme Court issued its decision in AT&T Corp. v. Hulteen. Noreen Hulteen was one of four named plaintiffs challenging AT&T's policy of calculating pension and retirement benefits in a way that penalized women who had taken pregnancy leave before the effective date of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.
Ms. Hulteen and three other women sued after they discovered that their pensions were smaller than expected because AT&T failed to credit them for their time off during pregnancy as they would have credited any non-pregnancy disability leave.
The District Court found for the employees following Ninth Circuit precedent that held that an employer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it made the decision to treat pre-Pregnancy Discrimination Act pregnancy leave less favorably than all other temporary disability leave. A three judge panel on the Ninth Circuit overturned the decision, but upon rehearing the full panel of judges on the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court's decision finding that AT&T engaged in an act of discrimination each time it calculated benefits in a way that gave less credit for pregnancy leave than for any other temporary disability leave. Thus, in the view of the Ninth Circuit, the respondents were affected by the discriminatory pregnancy policy anew when they sought their retirement.
Unfortunately, a majority of the Supreme Court viewed the issue differently and Ms. Hulteen, like Ms. Ledbetter, is out of luck.
A majority of the Court followed a 1976 decision, General Elec. Co. v. Gilbert, that defied reality by holding that discrimination against pregnant women was not discrimination on the basis of sex. Therefore, the Court held, a disability plan that excluded pregnancy-related disabilities was not discrimination on the basis of sex under Title VII. Extending the reasoning of Gilbert, the Hulteen majority said that because the women took their leave at a time when it was legal to discriminate against pregnant women under Gilbert (before Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in response to Gilbert), AT&T's policy was legal even though it perpetuated a pension benefit calculation that would now unquestionably be unlawful discrimination.

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At Xerox, a Transition for the Record Books

The New York Times
Published: May 21, 2009

After eight years of hard work turning around a company in disarray, Anne M. Mulcahy has managed to make her departure as chief executive of Xerox look effortless.
During a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday, Ms. Mulcahy revealed that she would retire as chief executive in July but remain chairwoman. Her handpicked successor is Ursula M. Burns, the president of the company. The management change had been predicted for years, making it one of the least tumultuous power changes in Xerox’s recent history.
“For the better part of the past decade, she has been at my side helping to turn Xerox around and more importantly transform Xerox for a new era,” Ms. Mulcahy told the company’s shareholders about Ms. Burns.
According to Xerox, this is the first time a female chief executive has replaced another female chief executive at a Fortune 500 company. In addition, Ms. Burns is the first African-American woman to run a company this large. Xerox reported revenue of $17.6 billion in 2008.
Xerox declined to make either executive available for interviews.
Tapped to head Xerox in mid-2001, Ms. Mulcahy took over a lethargic company that had lost ground to Japanese rivals like Canon and Ricoh. Abrupt management changes and a bungled reorganization of the sales force intensified the company’s woes to the point that analysts speculated it might have to file for bankruptcy.
In addition, Xerox had endured an extensive investigation of its accounting practices by the Securities and Exchange Commission. As the chief executive, Ms. Mulcahy negotiated a settlement that put the accounting issues to rest.
Observers credit Ms. Mulcahy with helping Xerox recover by bringing its costs into line and strengthening its products. Xerox has created printers that compete better on cost and size, including the introduction this month of copiers that lower the cost of printing color documents. It has also continued to build services and technology for managing documents within large corporations.
“She has really completed a remarkable turnaround,” said Shannon Cross, the managing director of Cross Research, an equities research firm.
Ms. Mulcahy, 56, has spent 33 years at Xerox, working in roles that spanned sales, marketing and human resources. Ms. Burns, 50, is also a longtime Xerox veteran, having started as an engineering intern in 1980.
“They’re both insiders that sort of bleed toner, as it were,” said Steve Reynolds, an analyst with Lyra Research, which follows the printing and imaging industries.
As president, Ms. Burns has most recently been overseeing a large swath of Xerox’s operations. She has conducted meetings with investors and Wall Street analysts alongside Ms. Mulcahy as well.

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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Succeeds Founding Director Irene Hill at Helm of RESOLVE

WASHINGTON – Stuart J. Ishimaru, Acting Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), has appointed expert mediator and manager Victor Voloshin as the EEOC’s Chief Mediation Officer and Director of RESOLVE, the agency’s internal mediation program, the EEOC announced today.
Voloshin came to the EEOC from the District of Columbia Superior Court, where he served as ADR Training and Evaluation Manager at the Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division. He succeeds Irene Hill, who has served as RESOLVE’s director since the program’s inception in 2003.
Ishimaru said, "We offer a heartfelt thank you to Irene Hill for a job superbly done, and a hearty welcome to Victor Voloshin, who I am convinced is uniquely qualified to carry on the excellent work done by the RESOLVE program, and to carry it to new heights."
“I'm excited to join EEOC and humbled to follow in Irene’s footsteps leading the RESOLVE program,” Voloshin said. “RESOLVE plays a vital role in supporting the agency's mission, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.”
The RESOLVE program mediates conflicts among EEOC employees, both in Washington headquarters and in the agency’s 53 field offices throughout the nation. RESOLVE addresses both individual concerns and systemic problems in an office or office component. The program conducts vigorous outreach and maintains a roster of skilled external mediators. Each year, RESOLVE handles some 50 mediation cases, maintaining a processing rate of under 80 days per case, and also conducts several group facilitations and conflict-resolution trainings.
Before his stint at DC Superior Court, Voloshin, served as ADR Director and EEO Officer for New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent mayoral agency responsible for handling complaints against the New York City Police Department; as an adjunct professor in the Conflict and Dispute Resolution Program at New York University; and in private practice as an attorney, mediator and arbitrator. He holds a B.A. from Christopher Newport University and an M.B.A. and J.D. from the College of William and Mary. A native of Kiev, Ukraine, who has lived in the United States for over 18 years, Voloshin brings a strong cross-cultural and cross-ethnic perspective.
“I leave the program in excellent hands,” Hill said, following a transition with Voloshin. “Victor is extremely well qualified to take the program to the next level.” Hill has returned to her position as Attorney-Advisor to the Director of EEOC’s Office of Field Programs.
In addition to the internal mediation program RESOLVE, the EEOC operates FAST, an external federal ADR program directed by veteran attorney Douglas Gallegos through the agency’s Office of Federal Operations, and private-sector mediations out of agency field offices. The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
EEOC Says Statesville Supermarket Fired Employee for Being Non-Latino

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – West Front Street Foods, LLC, doing business as Compare Foods, will pay $30,000 and provide other relief to settle a national origin and race discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that West Front Street Foods fired Robert Bruce, a white, non-Hispanic meat cutter, from a Compare Foods supermarket it operated in Statesville, N.C., based on his race and national origin. The lawsuit also charged that Bruce was replaced by a Hispanic worker as a racially motivated maneuver.
Race and national origin discrimination violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the litigation on September 8, 2008 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (EEOC v. West Front Street Foods, LLC d/b/a Compare Foods, Civil Action No 5:08-cv-102).
In addition to the monetary payment, the consent decree resolving the case also requires West Front Street Foods to distribute a formal, written anti-discrimination policy; provide periodic training to all its employees on the policy and on Title VII’s prohibition against national origin and race discrimination; send periodic reports to the EEOC concerning employees who are fired or resign; and post a “Notice to Employees” concerning this lawsuit.
Last year the EEOC settled a lawsuit against another Compare Foods supermarket in Charlotte (EEOC v. E & T Foods, LLC d/b/a Compare Foods, Civil Action No 3:06-cv-318, W.D.N.C). In that case, the EEOC also charged that the employer fired three non-Hispanic employees in the store’s meat department because of their race or national origin and replaced them with Hispanic workers.
“Federal law clearly prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an employee’s race or nationality,” said the regional attorney of EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, Lynette A. Barnes. “Everyone deserves the freedom to compete in the workplace on a fair and level playing field.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency’s web site at


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Owner Fired Housekeeper Solely Because of Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charged

DALLAS – A federal district court today awarded the maximum damages of $50,000 and significant injunctive relief in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a discrimination lawsuit against a Dallas-based commercial janitorial company, the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, the owners of First Sreymco, LLC, doing business as Jani-King, reduced the work hours of housekeeper Sonia Alvarado simply because she was pregnant and subsequently fired her. The company ignored medical assurances that Alvarado presented to them, the EEOC said, and co-owner Michelle Myers told her that the company did not want to take any risks because of her pregnancy.
Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, under which employ­ment discrimination on the basis of preg­nancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions con­stitutes unlawful sex discrimination. In June 2007, Alvarado filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC, initiating an investigation by the agency’s Dallas District Office.
The EEOC’s suit (EEOC v. First Sreymco, LLC, d/b/a Jani-King, Civ. 3:08—CV—1607--D) was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, on September 12, 2008. Despite receiving notice of the lawsuit, Jani-King failed to file an answer to the litigation or otherwise appear in the case, and the court entered a default judgment against the company on May 13, 2009.
Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater awarded $50,000, which is the maximum amount of damages an employer having fewer than 100 employees is required to pay in an employment discrimination lawsuit. The judge ruled that these damages consisted of both compensatory damages to com­pensate Alvarado for the pain and anguish she suffered as a result of the discrimination, and punitive damages to punish Jani-King for its malicious or reckless indifference to Alvarado’s federal right to be free from employment discrimination.
The court also awarded significant injunctive relief against Jani-King. The judge ordered Jani-King, its owners, managers, successors, and all persons in active concert or participation with them to be enjoined from engaging in discrimination on the basis of sex or pregnancy. The judge further ordered Jani-King to institute, disseminate, and enforce a policy under which pregnant employees are permitted to work as long as they are able to and choose to do so.
Devika Seth, senior trial attorney with the EEOC’s Dallas office, said, “We hope this Judgment sends a message to employers that women who wish to continue working and are able to do so should not be penalized simply because they are expecting a child. We are so proud of Ms. Alvarado for coming forward and standing up for her right to work.”
“I lost my happiness when Jani-King told me they didn’t want me because I was pregnant,” said Alvarado. “The news of the judgment has brought hope back to me because I know now that there is support for pregnant women when their employer breaks the law.”
During Fiscal Year 2007, pregnancy charges rose to a record high level of 5,587, up 14 percent from the prior fiscal year’s record of 4,901.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available on its web site at

Missouri Anti-Affirmative Action suit heard

KWMU 90.7 News Talk
Marshall Griffin, KWMU JEFFERSON CITY, MO (2009-05-19)

An anti-Affirmative Action ballot initiative is at the center of a lawsuit heard today in Jefferson City.The attorney for the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative argued that Secretary of State Robin Carnahan distorted the original intent of their ballot question.It reads, in part, that it would "ban Affirmative Action programs designed to eliminate discrimination against, and improve opportunities for, women and minorities."Laura Egerdal is Communications Director for the Secretary of State's office."When that ballot summary language is written, it's written so that the people of Missouri can clearly understand the effect of what it is that they're voting on...and in this case, we're confident that our language will be found fair and sufficient by the court," Egerdal said.The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative wants the language changed to read that it would, "ban state and local government affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment in public contracting, employment, or education based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin."Meanwhile, the ACLU is also suing the Secretary of State's office, claiming that Carnahan's language isn't strong enough.

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House poised to keep top 10 percent rule, with UT exception

The Dallas Morning News
12:00 AM CDT on Friday, May 22, 2009

By CHRISTY HOPPE / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – The House is poised to limit automatic admission to the University of Texas at Austin to the top 8 percent of graduating high school seniors but keep the current top 10 percent rule the same for all other public campuses.
Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, said his bill aims to give schools such as the University of Texas at Austin and UT-Dallas the discretion they need over college admissions.
Dan Branch, R-Dallas, said his bill aims to give schools such as the University of Texas at Austin and UT-Dallas the discretion they need over college admissions.
That route, approved Thursday as House members debated how to structure automatic admissions to state universities, is dramatically different from what the Senate has approved, a cap that would allow a maximum of 60 percent of a freshman class to come from the top 10 percent law.
The decade-old law has been credited with adding diversity to campuses with more Hispanic, black and rural students.
But with 26,000 high school seniors winning automatic admission to colleges, some campuses are finding themselves inundated with must-take freshmen, and they have complained that they are losing discretion on who to admit.
UT, in particular, now has about 85 percent of its freshmen being dictated by the automatic admissions law.
While the House bill initially mirrored the Senate approach, an amendment that would handle UT separately won widespread support.
House members said that since most of the problems were with the surge of students at UT, the otherwise successful top 10 law should not be changed at other universities.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paid Sick Days Bill Teed Up; Groups Start Dialogue on Flexibility

Workforce Management
May 15, 2009

Legislation that would ensure paid sick leave for American workers has been modified because of employer concerns about the way that time off was provided in a previous version of the bill, according to Capitol Hill staff and advocates.
Under the measure, which will be introduced within days, employees would earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours they work up to a total of 56 hours—or seven days—annually, said Karen Minatelli, director of work and family programs at the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Minatelli spoke at a Capitol Hill event Thursday, May 14, a few days in advance of the expected introduction of the measure, the Healthy Families Act.
The advent of the bill is part of a flurry of recent Washington activity on flexible work. On May 7, the Society for Human Resource Management issued a set of workplace leave principles that it hopes will form alternatives to bills like the paid sick leave measure.
On Wednesday, May 13, a group called Workplace Flexibility 2010 released a framework to guide the development of flexible work policy.
The version of the paid sick leave bill that failed to win approval in the previous Congress required companies with 15 or more employees to offer seven paid sick days.
Employers said that provision was confusing and recommended an accrual process, according to a Senate labor committee aide who was not authorized to speak on the record.
The bill also would allow time off to employees who are victims of domestic violence and would require medical certification for more than three days off in a row.
But the business community continues to have reservations about the upcoming bill, including how it defines full-time employees and how it would affect paid time off.
The labor committee aide said that if a company’s PTO plan could be used for the same purposes as the sick day legislation and under the same circumstances, it would put the company in compliance.

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Gender Discrimination Begins Much Earlier Than Exec Levels, Report Shows

Workforce Management
May 12, 2009

‘Holding Women Back,’ which is based on responses from 12,800 leaders in 76 countries, finds that women face gender discrimination from the very beginning of their careers.--

Despite discussion regarding women hitting the glass ceiling once they reach the executive level, discrimination starts much earlier in their career, according to a recent paper by Development Dimensions International.
“Holding Women Back,” which is based on responses from 12,800 leaders in 76 countries, found that women face gender discrimination from the very beginning of their careers.
“Our data suggests that when you look at the things that would help people develop in their careers, women wouldn’t get the same opportunities as men did,” said Ann Howard, DDI’s chief scientist.
One of the main areas where employers fail to include women is in their high-potential programs, where they identify those employees who managers believe could make strong leaders someday.
According to the study, there were 28 percent more men than women in high-potential programs at the first level of management and 50 percent more men than women in such programs at the executive level.
The problem with many companies’ high-potential programs is that there is often no standard procedure to identify candidates, Howard said. Usually it’s up to the managers to choose candidates, she added.
“I’m not saying that there is some evil plot here,” Howard said. “It’s just that managers might think about future executives as men because that is the traditional norm at the company.”
Many companies don’t track how many women participate in high-potential programs, which also adds to this problem, said Jan Combopiano, vice president and chief knowledge officer at Catalyst, a New York-based organization dedicated to helping businesses build inclusive workplaces for women.
“It’s really important that there is accountability tied to these programs,” Combopiano said. “It’s critical for overcoming gender stereotyping.”
Another way to make sure that women have the same opportunities as men to advance their careers is by having a formal succession planning program in place, Howard said.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Commentary: What's a 'qualified woman or minority'?

updated 3:55 p.m. EDT, Thu May 14, 2009

Story Highlights
Roland Martin: Why isn't the word "qualified" used often for white men?
He says "qualified" is often applied to idea of hiring women, minorities
He says every job should be filled with someone who has talent to succeed

By Roland S. Martin
CNN Contributor

Editor's note: A nationally syndicated columnist, Roland S. Martin is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith" and "Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America." Visit his Web site for more information. He is hosting "No Bias, No Bull" at 8 p.m. ET on CNN while Campbell Brown is on maternity leave.

(CNN) -- I couldn't help but laugh this morning when I saw the headline for a debate on "Should Obama feel obliged to appoint a qualified woman, African American or Hispanic to the Supreme Court? If so, why, and on what basis should he choose among these groups?"
Hmmm. A "qualified" woman, African-American or Hispanic. My first thought? Hell no! Give me the most unqualified person to sit on the highest court in the land!
Yeah, right.
It's always amazing when diversity is discussed that people feel the need to use the qualifier "qualified." If you think about it, there never seems to be an assumption when white men are being discussed that they are unqualified. Their qualification is simply assumed and is inherent in their whiteness and maleness.
Sure, go ahead and say, "Man, you're being too sensitive!" But I do want you to think about this for a second. Why do we as a society feel the need to say it's important to have "qualified" women or minorities? Isn't that assumed?
If President Obama is going to pick a Supreme Court justice, it never has dawned on me that he will grab a list of people who aren't capable of doing the job. The thought never even enters my mind.
Part of the issue is that a lot of folks have bought into the notion that any minority has gotten a job based on their skin color or a woman is hired because of her gender, so therefore, we better emphasize the need for a "qualified" person.
You ought to see some of the e-mails I've gotten from folks who think they are hurting my feelings by saying I'm a "quota" or "affirmative action" hire and took the job of "a deserving white person." Oh, yeah, these are a part of the greatest hits in my inbox.
A few years ago, I recall a white female news director in Texas who often reveled in her liberal way of thinking. She would go on and on about being a white liberal but would often talk about how hard it was to find "qualified" minorities for jobs. Then I would look at some of the most incompetent white men and women who worked for her and ask myself, "I wonder if they passed the qualified test?"
Another time, I challenged a white male recruiter on the term, and he would just say over and over, "You, know, qualified." And I kept pressing him on whether he asks the same question of someone white, and he couldn't answer the question.
Now, I'm sure the folks who despise affirmative action will quickly say, "See, if it weren't for affirmative action, no one would even use such terms!"
Yeah, right.
In the 17 years I've been a professional journalist, I've seen unqualified white men, white women and, yes, minorities hired and promoted, and affirmative action had nothing to do with it. People make hiring decisions based on the flimsiest of reasons, whether it's what schools they went to (such as assuming everyone from an Ivy League school is the best; no, some are incompetent), they know the right people, or they were so "articulate" that they were given a shot.

Full Story:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor Could Be on Obama's Short List for Replacing Souter

U.S. News and World Report
By Alex Kingsbury
Posted May 11, 2009

President Obama has been vague about what type of jurist he intends to nominate to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the nation's highest court. There's no end of speculation about what the president means when he says he's looking for someone with "heart and empathy" and a keen understanding of "how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives." But many think that means he intends to diversify the bench.
Indeed, analysts largely agree that Obama is looking for a candidate with a hard-knocks background and wants to appoint either a woman or a minority jurist. That puts Sonia Sotomayor, a woman of Puerto Rican descent from the Bronx who is a federal appeals court judge, atop most short lists. Others mentioned include Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood, and Pamela Karlan and Kathleen Sullivan, both professors at Stanford Law School.
Vetters and opposition researchers are zeroing in on Sotomayor, the perceived front-runner. A video from a 2005 forum at Duke University recently surfaced in which Sotomayor appears to jokingly refer to the Court of Appeals "making policy" (a phrase sure to enflame conservatives). But the case most mentioned by critics is her concurrence in a ruling against a group of white Connecticut firefighters who sued over a hiring policy that gave preference to minority candidates. The reverse-discrimination case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which has yet to issue a ruling.
It's both ironic and fitting, court watchers say, that Sotomayor may face the most scrutiny over an affirmative action ruling. Such cases are among the most contentious and intractable in the realm of civil rights issues. If Sotomayor is nominated, it will imply that her gender and lineage, in addition to her legal work, recommend her for the position. Of course, a diverse heritage and background aren't always indicative of a justice's take on civil rights. David Souter, who was a civil libertarian, became a staunchly liberal advocate in civil rights cases over the years. "The next justice will have to fill Souter's enormous shoes in terms of civil rights decisions," says Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "The list of potential candidates is noteworthy not only because of the diversity of the candidates themselves but also the strength of their legal work."

Full Commentary:

The Supreme Court’s Hostility to the Voting Rights Act

The New York Times
Published: May 12, 2009

It is hard to imagine an area in which Congress has more express constitutional authority to act than in protecting the right of minorities to vote.
When the Civil War ended and the hard work began in creating a nation with a single standard of citizenship, the 14th Amendment was adopted to make it clear that blacks had equal rights. The 15th Amendment said the right to vote could not be denied or abridged on account of race.
Both amendments gave Congress the “power to enforce” them “by appropriate legislation.”
But that is not how much of the current Supreme Court — perhaps a majority — seem to see it. The case — widely considered this term’s most watched — is a challenge to the heart of the Voting Rights Act, its Section 5. The court may be on the brink of ruling that Congress did not have the power to reauthorize it.
The post-Civil War amendments were a turning point. The first 11 amendments were a list of things the government could not do, and the 12th Amendment was a technical fix.
The 13th Amendment, which barred slavery, the 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment were the first to give the federal government new powers. The nation had a large problem, eradicating the vestiges of slavery and racial inequality, and it knew that Congress needed potent tools to get the job done.
When the framers drafted these amendments, they were worried that Congress would have too little power to get the job done, not too much. Senator Lyman Trumbull warned that if Congress’s authority were interpreted too narrowly, “the trumpet of freedom that we have been blowing throughout the land has given an ‘uncertain sound,’ and the promised freedom is a delusion.”
It was not until the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s that Congress got serious about the assignment laid out in the post-Civil War amendments. It passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 when about 7 percent of blacks in Mississippi were registered to vote. The act outlawed literacy tests, directed the attorney general to challenge poll taxes and, in Section 5, required certain covered jurisdictions to “pre-clear” any new election rules with the Justice Department or a federal court to ensure that they did not disenfranchise minorities.
The following year, the Supreme Court upheld the Voting Rights Act, and it did so in three more cases. Congress has also been steadfast in its support for the act over the years, as have the presidents who have repeatedly signed laws renewing and extending it. Before renewing the act in 2006, Congress held 21 hearings and collected 16,000 pages of testimony to determine that it was still needed. The Senate then voted in favor of renewal by 98-to-0, the House by 390-to-33 and former President George W. Bush signed it.
So what is the problem? The Voting Rights Act has run smack into the “federalism” crusade of the court’s conservative bloc.

Full Editorial:

Stanford psychologist Claude Steele named 21st University Provost

Columbia Spectator
by Joy Resmovits

WEB EXCLUSIVE 2:20p.m. Claude Steele, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, will become Columbia's next provost, according to a University announcement and an e-mail University President Lee Bollinger sent to students on Wednesday afternoon. Steele will become the first African American to hold the post.
He will begin his tenure on Sept. 1, 2009, succeeding current Provost Academic Brinkley to the role of the University's chief academic officer and the president's right-hand man. Coming from an external institution, Steele will have to learn about Columbia's idiosyncrasies and bureaucratic structure fairly quickly.
Steele is currently Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences and director of Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has been teaching psychology in Stanford since 1991, and worked as the department's chair from 1997 to 2000. Steele has also directed Stanford's Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity since 2002.
In a phone interview on Wednesday afternoon, Bollinger said that his contact with Steele, though not intimate, stretches back over a decade. From 1987-1991 he taught at the University of Michigan, Steele overlapped with Bollinger. "He's very well known, one of the leading figures in the field of psychology, in stereotyping work," Bollinger said.

Full Post:

EEO Agencies Seek Substantial Increases in Funding and Staff for FY 2010

The Obama Administration is seeking substantial increases in the fiscal year 2010 budgets of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). The EEOC is requesting a budget of $367,303,000 for fiscal year 2010 and an additional 140 Full time equivalents (staff). This request represents an increase of $23.378 million from the fiscal year 2009 appropriation.

In the FY 2010 Budget Justification, EEOC explains the Chair's priorities as follows:

Since the establishment of the EEOC in 1965, much progress has been made in reducing illegal discrimination in the American workplace. Yet discrimination continues to be a substantial problem for too many people in America. Significant work remains to be done.
A key for the EEOC to be successful is a strong law enforcement and litigation program. Concrete steps will be taken to restore capacity to effectively investigate charges and litigate cases. While past EEOC focus has primarily been on individual cases of discrimination, the agency has stated its bipartisan desire to shift emphasis to combating systemic discrimination. A strong systemic program is crucial to battling unlawful patterns or practices of discrimination which have a broad impact on an industry, profession, company, or geographic location.
Recently enacted legislation will improve the EEOC’s law enforcement capability. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 restores the long standing EEOC position that discriminatory compensation decisions or other unlawful practices occur each time compensation is paid. We expect more charges to be filed as a result of this Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008 restores congressional intent of the original ADA, and directs us to construe the term “disability” broadly. We will issue regulations interpreting the Act as well as conduct outreach activities to educate the public. We anticipate that in fiscal year 2010, more than 5,000 charges will be filed which will result in a significant increase to our workload.
In addition, we will address the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) of 2008, which prohibits public and private employers from using genetic information in making employment decisions. The Commission will provide training programs and technical advice and assistance regarding GINA and its implementing regulations that we will issue in 2009.
Finally, the EEOC will utilize outreach efforts with stakeholder organizations on particular workplace issues or topics in the race context. Additionally, through our enforcement and litigation efforts, we will pursue charges for priority, novel or emerging legal issues in the context of race discrimination.

The Department of Labor's budget request proposes an increase of $25.6 million and 213 FTE for the OFCCP. In the Secretary of Labor's budget justification, she reports:

The FY 2010 budget request includes a program increase of $25,600,000 to fund 213 FTE and a new case management system. The additional FTE will support enforcement and outreach efforts related to compensation. Given the complexities of new procedures outlined in the two federal register notices – Interpreting Nondiscrimnation (Standards) and Voluntary Guidelines for Requirements of Executive Order (guidelines), OFCCP needs to place additional emphasis on outreach and training, as well as improving the various approaches and investigative techniques used to evaluate compensation. In addition, the program increase will also support litigation to amplify enforcement activities by funding external experts to verify OFCCP’s allegations and assessments to solidify its commitment to strong enforcement.In FY 2008, OFCCP made total financial settlements of $67,510,892 in back pay and annualized salary and benefits for a record 24,508 American workers who had been subjected to unlawful employment discrimination. This marks the fourth consecutive year that OFCCP has posted record enforcement numbers.

The increase for OFCCP will reportedly restore the program to its 2001 levels.


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Hospital Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit
PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh hospital has agreed to pay $100,000 and furnish other equitable relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged the hospital with firing an employee because she had cancer.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit against LifeCare Hospitals of Pittsburgh, Inc., former business manager Diana Altieri-Hand, of Murrysville, Pa., needed a reasonable accommodation for her disability after she had surgery for cancer and underwent chemotherapy. Altieri-Hand was a longstanding employee of LifeCare Hospitals of Pittsburgh or its predecessor and had a good performance record. LifeCare Hospitals of Pittsburgh, a free-standing hospital facility managed or operated by LifeCare Management Services, LLC, initially provided a reasonable accommodation to Altieri-Hand.
However, the EEOC charged, in about August 2007 the regional director of finance suddenly stopped accommodating Altieri-Hand’s disability and demanded that she return to work full-time with no restrictions. The EEOC’s complaint alleged that after Altieri-Hand returned to work full-time, the supervisor discriminated against her because of her disability, including substantially increasing her workload, removing her full-time staff assistant, and subjecting her to unwarranted work scrutiny. Finally, the EEOC charged, the hospital fired Altieri-Hand because of her disability.
Disability discrimination violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ disabilities as long as this does not pose an undue hardship on the business. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 08-1358, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.
The consent decree resolving the lawsuit prohibits the hospital from engaging in disability discrimination and retaliation. As part of the settlement, the hospital will also train all employees regarding the ADA’s prohibitions against disability discrimination. LifeCare did not admit liability in the consent decree, which is pending judicial approval.
“It is particularly disturbing and sadly ironic when a health care facility, of all places, refuses to reasonably accommodate an employee’s disability,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence. “The resolution of this case will remind employers about their legal responsibilities under the ADA.”
During Fiscal Year 2008, disability discrimination charges rose to 19,453 -- an increase of 10 percent from the prior fiscal year and the highest number of disability bias charges filed with the EEOC in 14 years.The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at

'White African-American' Suing N.J. Med School for Discrimination

Paulo Serodio Says He Was Harassed, Assaulted After Defining Himself as African-American
May 13, 2009—

Can a white guy be African-American?
Paulo Serodio says he is.
Born and raised in Mozambique and now a naturalized U.S. citizen, Serodio, 45, has filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey medical school, claiming he was harassed and ultimately suspended for identifying himself during a class cultural exercise as a "white African-American."
"I wouldn't wish this to my worst enemy," he said. "I'm not exaggerating. This has destroyed my life, my career."
The lawsuit, which asks for Serodio's reinstatement at the school and monetary damages, named the Newark-based University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and several doctors and university employees as defendants.
Filed Monday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, the lawsuit traces a series of events that Serodio maintains led to his 2007 suspension, starting with a March 2006 cultural exercise in a clinical skills course taught by Dr. Kathy Ann Duncan, where each student was asked to define themselves for a discussion on culture and medicine.
After Serodio labeled himself as a white African-American, another student said she was offended by his comments and that, because of his white skin, was not an African-American.
According to the lawsuit, Serodio was summoned to Duncan's office where he was instructed "never to define himself as an African-American & because it was offensive to others and to people of color for him to do so."
"It's crazy," Serodio's attorney Gregg Zeff told "Because that's what he is."
Serodio, who lives in Newark, said he never meant to offend anyone and calling himself African-American doesn't detract from another person's heritage.
Neither the American Civil Liberties Union nor the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People responded to messages seeking comment on the meaning of African-American.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Diversity Scorecard - 2009

When we published last year's Diversity Scorecard, we said that this year's edition would take a more nuanced look at how law firms are faring in boosting diversity within their ranks. At the time, we predicted that our new approach would shake up the rankings. And it has.

By Ed Shanahan
The Minority Law Journal
May 01, 2009

Well, you can’t say we didn’t warn you.
When we published last year’s Diversity Scorecard, we said that this year’s edition would take a more nuanced look at how law firms are faring in boosting diversity within their ranks. At the time, we predicted that our new approach would shake up the rankings. And it has.
Last year’s first-place finisher, New York’s Cleary, Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, dropped all the way to a tie at number 20 on our list. And Cleary was hardly alone in falling out of the Scorecard’s upper echelon. All told, five firms lost their top 20 status altogether. One of those, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, plummeted more than 50 spots on this list, from number 6 to number 57.
On the flip side, our new method of calculating diversity was a boon to numerous firms. The most prominent beneficiary was Palo Alto’s Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which, after two consecutive second-place finishes, finally ascended to the top spot. Other winners included the seven firms that rose into the top 20. None climbed higher than Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgard & Smith of Los Angeles, which jumped from number 47 all the way to number 4.
All this churn comes courtesy of a new ranking formula adopted after we found ourselves wondering whether our traditional approach to measuring diversity—calculating the overall percentage of minorities within a firm—ignored something significant. Did it really make sense to treat all lawyers of color as essentially equivalent in stature? Should a firm get the same kind of credit for a minority associate as it does for a minority partner? We decided that it was time to start giving more credit to firms that have increased the racial diversity of their partnership ranks. Under our revised formula, we add each responding firm’s percentage of minority lawyers to its percentage of minority partners to come up with a diversity score. This number is a truer gauge, we believe, of what kind of progress a firm is making in hiring lawyers of color at every level, with an emphasis on those at the most senior levels. (Click here for a fuller explanation of our methodology, and a list of firms that did not respond.)
A look at the top of this year's rankings, makes it clear how much a higher-than-average percentage of minority partners contributed to some firms’ improved showing. Consider Lewis, Brisbois: At 12.1 percent, its proportion of minority partners is nearly double the average for all firms, 6.3 percent. Each of the other firms that climbed into the top 20 this year also has a higher-than-average percentage of minority partners: Carlton Fields (12 percent minority partners); Epstein, Becker & Green (13.9 percent); Howrey (9.8 percent); Hughes Hubbard & Reed (9.8 percent); Kenyon & Kenyon (12.1 percent); and Shutts & Bowen (13.4 percent). First-place finisher Wilson Sonsini boasts a minority partner percentage nearly triple the survey average.

Full Report:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Companies Must Set Diversity Goals

Workforce Management
Workforce Management Online, May 2008

While many people think diversity in the workplace is a numbers game—think headcounts and quotas—the truth is measuring diversity involves more than simple math. This series focuses on how one major Midwestern city, despite being beset with economic issues, is dealing with the issue of workforce diversity. Detroit’s experience can bee seen as an example for other metropolitan areas. By Laura Weiner

While many people think diversity in the workplace is a numbers game—think headcounts and quotas—the truth is measuring diversity involves more than simple math.
"It should all start with a plan," said Christopher Metzler, former director of Equal Employment Opportunity studies, diversity and inclusion at Cornell University and now the associate dean of human resources at Georgetown University. "What exactly do you want your diversity program to do?"
Some companies may want to increase their bottom line with new contract wins, while others want a staff that is more varied in their ideas.
Sometimes searching for the latter ultimately brings in the former.
"Back in 2005, with instruction from our board of directors, we started to investigate our diversity strategies," said Ed Dodge, vice president and director of human resources at Detroit-based SmithGroup, an architectural engineering firm.
"We knew there had to be some focus on the bottom line. As it turns out, we were recently selected for a project at Indiana University after they narrowed the pool down to our company and another firm, both of which had indicated above all the other firms that there was a diversity program in place. We were selected ... that is a very obvious case of how our program is affecting our bottom line."
Not all strategies have such a direct effect.
"Having a diverse staff is not necessarily going to increase your bottom line," said Metzler. "In order to do that, you may have to look externally, possibly at marketing strategies, like gearing products towards a more Latino customer base, for example."

Full Story:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Kemp mourned by president, lawmakers

The Hill
By Jeremy P. Jacobs
Posted: 05/03/09 03:11 PM [ET]

Lawmakers and former colleagues paid their respects on Sunday to former Congressman Jack Kemp, remembering the former Buffalo Bills quarterback for his dedication and ideals.Kemp, a New York Republican who was GOP's vice presidential nominee in 1996, passed away of cancer Saturday in Bethesda, Md., at the age of 73.
Democrats and Republicans praised Kemp for a brand of politics that would be considered unique nowadays. Kemp staunchly advocated for tax cuts and supply-side economics, which conservatives applaud, while arguing just as passionately for civil rights and affirmative action, major tenets of liberal orthodoxy. Kemp once called himself a "bleeding-heart conservative."In a statement, President Obama said Kemp's service had a significant impact on both the Republican Party and the country. Obama applauded Kemp in particular for his attitude toward race relations."From his tenure as a Buffalo congressman to his ascent in national politics," Obama said, "Jack Kemp was a man who could fiercely advocate his own beliefs and principles while also remembering the lessons he learned years earlier on the football field: that bitter divisiveness between race and class and station only stood in the way of the 'common aim of a team to win.'
"Michelle and I extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the entire Kemp family."

Full Obituary:

Justice Souter Departs

The New York Times
Published: May 2, 2009

When President George H. W. Bush nominated him to the Supreme Court in 1990, David Souter was an obscure New Hampshire judge with a thin paper trail, hard to figure out, and supporters of civil liberties, civil rights and abortion rights worried that he was being put on the court to do damage to their causes.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said Judge Souter had failed to show “abiding commitment” to “core constitutional values.” He and other liberal senators voted against confirmation.
How wrong Senator Kennedy, and almost everyone else, was. Abiding commitment to core constitutional values is precisely what Justice Souter — who has decided to retire — has demonstrated in his 18 years on the court. To the relief of liberals and the dismay of conservatives — who have made “No More Souters!” a judicial-nomination rallying cry — Justice Souter turned out to be nothing like what anyone expected.
The first opinion he wrote overturned, for a unanimous court, the conviction of a black man for killing a white woman, because the defendant had not been given ample opportunity to challenge the makeup of the nearly all-white Georgia jury. Justice Souter went on to become a reliable champion of civil rights. In 2003, he provided a critical fifth vote upholding the University of Michigan’s affirmative action program.

Full Editorial:

Should Obama appoint a Latina to the Supreme Court?

By Arturo Mora, Kansas City Star Midwest Voices columnist 2009

Of course he should, if she’s qualified. How about a black man or woman? A white woman? A white man? Yes, yes and yes, if the person is qualified.
If, as is very possible, he ends up picking a woman or minority, is that “identity politics?” Is it high level affirmative action? Is it fair? Yes, yes, and most importantly yes, if done right.
In America we have always been hyper aware of “identity” when choosing Supreme Court justices, even if we never realized it. We were not color or gender blind when the only choices were white males. For almost two centuries the “identity politics” was, women or minorities need not apply.
I believe in affirmative action as a benefit to a fair society, but I don’t believe in quotas. They are not the same thing. Specifically, I believe in a responsible effort to gather a diverse and qualified pool of nominees. It does not mean choosing someone only because of their race or gender.
Is all that fair? With only nine justices, every pick is magnified. One black, one Latina, four or five women, seems fair in comparison to our population, but that sounds like quotas. And where’s the Asian, the Jew, the Native American? How do we walk that fine line, fairness to all groups without quotas?

Full commentary:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Employment Discrimination and the 2009 H1N1 Flu Virus (Swine Flu)

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of national origin, for example, discrimination against Mexicans.
See Title VII statute, regulations, and guidance prohibiting national origin discrimination.
Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act (the ADA) regulates medical examinations and disability-related inquiries of employees and applicants, only permitting them if certain conditions are met.
For the EEOC's guidance about exams and inquiries of employees, see EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, (defining medical examination and disability-related inquiry and explaining conditions under which they may be given to employees).
For the EEOC's guidance about exams and inquiries of applicants, see EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Preemployment Disability-Related Questions and Medical Examinations.

New admission policy at UC system angers Asian-Americans
Associated Press
May 3, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - A new admissions policy set to take effect at the University of California system in three years is raising fears among Asian-Americans that it will reduce their numbers on campus, where they account for 40 percent of all undergraduates.University officials say the new standards - the biggest change in UC admissions since 1960 - are intended to widen the pool of applicants and make the process more fair.But Asian-American advocates, parents and lawmakers are angrily calling on the university to rescind the policy, which will apply at all nine of the system's undergraduate campuses.They point to a UC projection that the new standards would sharply reduce Asian-American admissions while resulting in little change for blacks and Hispanics, and a big gain for white students.
"I like to call it affirmative action for whites," said Ling-chi Wang, a retired professor at UC Berkeley. "I think it's extremely unfair to Asian-Americans on the one hand and underrepresented minorities on the other."Asian-Americans are the single largest ethnic group among UC's 173,000 undergraduates. In 2008, they accounted for 40 percent at UCLA and 43 percent at UC Berkeley - the two most selective campuses in the UC system - as well as 50 percent at UC San Diego and 54 percent at UC Irvine.Asian-Americans are about 12 percent of California's population and 4 percent of the U.S. population overall.

Full Story:,0,3230843.story

Voices Reflect Rising Sense of Racial Optimism

The New York Times
May 3, 2009

MILWAUKEE — Although the civil rights movement gave Samuel Sallis equality under the law a long time ago, he was left wanting most of his life, he says, for the subtle courtesies and respect he thought would come with it. Being a working-class black man downtown here meant being mostly ignored, living a life invisible and unacknowledged in a larger white world.
Then Mr. Sallis, 69, noticed a change.
“I’ve been working downtown for 30 years, so I’ve got a good feeling for it,” Mr. Sallis said. “Since President Obama started campaigning, if I go almost anywhere, it’s: ‘Hi! Hello, how are you, sir?’ I’m talking about strangers. Calling me ‘sir.’ ”
He added: “It makes you feel different, like, hey — maybe we are all equals. I’m no different than before. It’s just that other people seem to be realizing these things all around me.”
In dozens of interviews in seven states over the last several days, black men and women like Mr. Sallis said they were feeling more optimistic about race relations than even a year ago, when Mr. Obama emerged as a serious presidential contender after a string of primary and caucus victories. Many whites said they were feeling better, too, expressing an invigorated sense of openness toward people of other races.
Yet no one claims that racial prejudice has disappeared.
In a recent report to law enforcement agencies, the Homeland Security Department warned that right-wing extremists could use Mr. Obama’s election as a recruiting tool. And the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, reported finding 926 active groups in the United States in 2008, up 50 percent from 2000.
Still, Mr. Sallis said, “it feels like there’s a possibility now that wasn’t there before.” ...

The interviews reflect findings in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, in which two-thirds of Americans said race relations were generally good, with the percentage of blacks who said so doubling since July.

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USCIS Seeks Comments on I-9 Information Collection

The Department of Homeland Security is seeking comments on the paperwork burden related to the I-9 form, Employment Eligibility Verification. The comment period has been extended for 30 days and the new deadline is May 28, 2009. The Federal Register notice is below:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Agency Information Collection Activities: Form I-9, Extension of an Existing Information Collection, Comment Request ACTION: 30-Day Notice of Information Collection Under Review: Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification; OMB Control No. 1615-0047.-----------------------------------------------------------------------

The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has submitted the following information collection request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The information collection was previously published in the Federal Register on December 17, 2008, at 73 FR 76505 (page 76510), allowing for a 60-day public comment period. USCIS did not receive any comments for this information collection. The purpose of this notice is to allow an additional 30 days for public comments. Comments are encouraged[[Page 19234]]and will be accepted until May 28, 2009. This process is conducted in accordance with 5 CFR 1320.10.

Written comments and/or suggestions regarding the item(s) contained in this notice, especially regarding the estimated public burden and associated response time, should be directed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), USCIS Desk Officer. Comments may be submitted to: USCIS, Chief, Regulatory Products Division, Clearance Office, 111 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, DC 20529-2210. Comments may also be submitted to DHS via facsimile to 202-272-8352 or via e-mail at, and to the OMB USCIS Desk Officer via facsimile at 202-395-6974 or via e-mail at When submitting comments by e-mail please make sure to add OMB Control Number 1615-0047 in the subject box. Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies should address one or more of the following four points: (1) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agencies estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. Overview of this Information Collection: (1) Type of Information Collection: Extension of a currently approved information collection. (2) Title of the Form/Collection: Employment Eligibility Verification. (3) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable component of the Department of Homeland Security sponsoring the collection: Form I-9. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (4) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond, as well as a brief abstract: Primary: Individuals or households. This form was developed to facilitate compliance with section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which prohibits the knowing employment of unauthorized aliens. The information collected is used by employers or by recruiters for enforcement of provisions of immigration laws that are designed to control the employment of unauthorized aliens. (5) An estimate of the total number of respondents and the amount of time estimated for an average respondent to respond: This figure was derived by multiplying the number of respondents (78,000,000) x frequency of response (1) x hour per response (9 minutes or 0.15 hours). The annual record keeping burden is added to the total annual reporting burden which is based on 20,000,000 record keepers at (3 minutes or .05 hours) per filing. (6) An estimate of the total public burden (in hours) associated with the collection: 12,700,000 annual burden hours. If you need a copy of the proposed information collection instrument with instructions, or additional information, please visit: If additional information is required contact: USCIS, Regulatory Products Division, 111 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, DC 20529-2210, (202) 272-8377. Dated: April 23, 2009.Stephen Tarragon,Deputy Chief, Regulatory Products Division, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.[FR Doc. E9-9619 Filed 4-27-09; 8:45 am]

The female advantage

The Boston Globe/
A new reason for businesses to promote women: it's more profitable
By Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow May 3, 2009

IN THE CUTTHROAT world of business, companies are always looking for ways to increase their profits. They outsource to Bangalore. They endlessly tweak their "brands." Some even try to shed their least desirable customers.
Now, a growing number of consultants and corporate leaders swear by a new strategy to boost the bottom line, one that departs from the standard bag of tricks: put more women in charge.
Several studies have linked greater gender diversity in senior posts with financial success. European firms with the highest proportion of women in power saw their stock value climb by 64 percent over two years, compared with an average of 47 percent, according to a 2007 study by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company. Measured as a percent of revenues, profits at Fortune 500 firms that most aggressively promoted women were 34 percent higher than industry medians, a 2001 Pepperdine University study showed. And, just recently, a French business professor found that the share prices of companies with more female managers declined less than average on the French stock market in 2008.
This mounting body of evidence represents an important twist in the debate over women in business. For decades, women's advancement has been seen as an issue of fairness and equality. Now some researchers are saying it should also be seen in another way: as a smart way to make money.
"The business case is so strong," says Alison Maitland, senior visiting fellow at Cass Business School in London, and coauthor of the 2008 book "Why Women Mean Business." "We need more women in senior management."
The numbers are certainly striking, but their meaning is not yet fully understood. Correlation does not equal causation: While the link between higher levels of female leadership and profits is fairly well-established, it's less clear that women are directly responsible for the success. Rather, companies of a particular kind - forward-thinking, adaptable - may both turn higher profits and promote more women. And some of the data on women's influence are mixed. One recent study, for example, found that the presence of senior women just below the CEO led to higher profits - but the effect of female CEOs was neutral or slightly negative.
And if the high-level women do directly cause better performance, it is not entirely clear why.

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