Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guild Shine Light On Minority Hiring During 'Diversity Awareness Month'

MultiChannel News
SAG Will Release 'Casting Data Report' In October
Mike Reynolds -- Multichannel News, 9/30/2009 5:22:00 AM EDT

Screen Actors Guild has declared October "Diversity Awareness Month" and plans to release various hiring reports.In October, SAG will issue various diversity-based reports and videos via SAG.org, including the highly anticipated "Casting Data Report." This analysis of hiring statistics based on ethnicity/race, age and gender is an instrumental tool used by the entertainment industry.
While SAG works year round to advance issues of employment diversity, the group said it wants to shine a spotlight next month on the efforts of its Affirmative Action & Diversity Department, as well as the union's various diversity committees comprised of SAG members.

Full Story: http://www.multichannel.com/article/355965-SAG_Will_Release_Casting_Data_Report_In_October_.php

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

President Obama Proclaims Hispanic Heritage Month


THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release September 15, 2009
NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH, 2009
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION

The story of Hispanics in America is the story of America itself. The Hispanic community's values -- love of family, a deep and abiding faith, and a strong work ethic -- are America's values. Hispanics bring together the rich traditions of communities with centuries-old roots in America and the energy and drive of recent immigrants. Many have taken great risks to begin a new life in the hopes of achieving a better future for themselves and their families.
Hispanics have played a vital role in the moments and movements that have shaped our country. They have enriched our culture and brought creativity and innovation to everything from sports to the sciences and from the arts to our economy.
Hispanics have served with honor and distinction in every conflict since the Revolutionary War, and they have made invaluable contributions through their service to our country. They lead corporations and not-for-profits, and social movements and places of learning. They serve in government at every level from school boards to statehouses, and from city councils to Congress. And for the first time in our Nation's history, a Latina is seated among the nine Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.
As Hispanics continue to enrich our Nation's character and shape our common future, they strengthen America's promise and affirm the narrative of American unity and progress.
To honor the achievements of Hispanics in America, the Congress, by Public Law 100-402, as amended, has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating September 15 through October 15 as "National Hispanic Heritage Month."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 15 through October 15, 2009, as National Hispanic Heritage Month. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential-Proclamation-National-Hispanic-Heritage-Month/

BARACK OBAMA

Profiling Latinos

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
Finding Excellencia
by Deborah Santiago, September 29, 2009

By 2025, 22 percent of the U.S. college-age population will be Latino, a level already exceeded in four states: California, Florida, New York, and Texas. However, today, only 7 percent of college-age Latinos (ages 18 to 24) have earned an associate degree or higher compared with 9 percent of Blacks, 16 percent of Whites, and 25 percent of Asians.

This representation is consistent with older cohorts as well. According to the U.S. Census, only 19 percent of Hispanics, 28 percent of Blacks, 39 percent of Whites, and 59 percent of Asians ages 25 and over earned an associate degree or higher in 2008. Given the importance of college degree completion for U.S. society and its economic competitiveness, meeting the country’s future social, human capital and work force needs make it imperative to improve educational outcomes for Latino students.

As public attention is increasingly focused on the achievement gaps of Latinos in education, many are scrambling to explain our low attainment levels. In fact, the propensity to highlight an incomplete profile of Latinos dominates most conversations addressing our population. Issues related to immigration, high school dropouts, and English-language learning dominate the discourse. While important, these issues are not as applicable when addressing Latinos in higher education, and we must remember this limited applicability when considering the impact of higher education policy to increase educational attainment.

Let’s be clear: the majority of Latinos in this country, and especially in higher education, are U.S.-born high school graduates who speak English as their dominant language. Relative to other groups, we are more likely to be immigrants, English-language learners and high school dropouts. This profile, however, does not reflect the majority of Latinos in this country.

Full Story: http://diverseeducation.com/blogpost/146/profiling-latinos.html

Sexual Orientation Bias Bill Starts Moving Again

Workforce Management
September 24, 2009

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act prohibits businesses with 15 or more employees and government agencies from using sexual orientation or gender identity to make employment decisions.

A bill that would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation has once again begun a legislative journey, this time carrying a controversial provision on gender identity that was dropped by the wayside in a previous Congress.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act prohibits businesses with 15 or more employees and government agencies from using sexual orientation or gender identity to make employment decisions.
In 2007, the House approved the bill after the gender identity portion was excised. The amended measure also gained the support of the Society for Human Resource Management.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts and a champion of the measure, took out the gender identity provision in the previous iteration of the bill because otherwise he didn’t have the votes to get it through the House.
“I hope we will now,” he said at a Wednesday, September 23, hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee.
Democrats in the House strengthened their hand in the last election. They now have a commanding 256-177 majority. On the Senate side, there are 59 Democrats, pending the replacement of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy in Massachusetts.
When they reach 60, Senate Democrats will be able to overcome Republican filibusters. In 2007, Republicans had enough senators to block the sexual discrimination bill. In addition, President George W. Bush threatened to veto it. President Barack Obama has vowed to sign the measure if it gets to his desk.
Supporters say the bill would end the fear that people have of being fired because of their sexual orientation. They point to the fact that 38 states do not have laws banning such discrimination.
But the business community is leery of how the gender identity protection would be implemented in the workplace.
Camille Olson, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago, testified that the bill is ambiguous about standards that companies with transgender workers must meet for “shared facilities,” which could include dressing rooms and restrooms. She also said that it is unclear whether companies would have to modify offices and production centers.
SHRM has not taken a position on this year’s version of the bill because it is trying to figure out what the impact will be on HR professionals.

Full Story: http://www.workforce.com/section/00/article/26/69/00.php

Helping Women in 100-Hour Couples

Inside Higher Ed
September 29, 2009
By Karine Moe and Dianna Shandy

Educated women’s relationship with work today is located at the crosscurrents of some significant demographic and societal shifts. Perhaps the most important of these changes, the stunning educational achievements of women during the past 50 years, opened doors to a wide variety of interesting and well-paid careers, including academe. Women, and married women in particular, increasingly entered fields that had long been considered male bastions. Given the opportunity to prove themselves academically and professionally, educated women marched headlong into the workforce. After a century of increasing female labor force participation, then, many were surprised when at the turn of the 21st century increases in the labor force participation of women stalled -- and in some cases, such as college-educated mothers of infants, declined dramatically.
While women have always moved in and out of the labor force, these most recent movements seemed different. The press began to identify women who, after investing considerable time and money in their educations, decided to leave prestigious and highly-paid careers. While the actual number of college-educated women who quit their jobs to tend to their children constituted a small fraction of working women, the phenomenon nevertheless fueled a heated public debate.
Arguments about the size of the phenomenon aside, the important part of this story is the valuable lessons about work and family to be learned from those who walked away from careers, high powered and otherwise. Our research on these women revealed issues faced by all mothers who seek to combine paid work and childrearing. While our sample was broad and included women from many different fields, academics were well-represented in our study, and so our findings have direct relevance for academic employers.
As women’s commitment to the workforce rose dramatically in the late 1900s, at the same time, marital patterns began to shift. Paraphrasing Gloria Steinem, these highly educated women were becoming the men they wanted to marry. Instead of the professor marrying the department secretary, who then quit work to raise the family, now the professor is likely to marry another professor, or lawyer, or financial analyst. This dynamic gave rise to something we call “the 100-hour couple,” or a couple who works extremely long hours for a combined total of more than 100 hours per week. At the same time as these highly educated women began to compete for academic, professional and managerial positions (along with their husbands), we began to see a surge in the work hours expected by employers. The expectations of employers for complete commitment to work -- with many expecting employees to be available on a 24/7 basis -- has risen substantially over the past few decades, as technology has made it increasingly possible for workers to be reached at all hours.
These changes coincided with cultural shifts in expectations for parenthood. While fathers certainly spend more time with their children than ever before, they still do not spend nearly as much time as do mothers. Today's mothers describe an intensification of motherhood that can be felt in the pressure to provide “mama time” for their kids by arranging play dates, driving them to activities, monitoring piano practice and homework, etc.
Compounded by ongoing expectations for women to manage household responsibilities, these cultural and demographic shifts came together to create a perfect storm of social forces that has led women to reevaluate their relationship with work. Aside from the trends described above, certain structural characteristics of the workplace inhibit women’s ability to excel in their careers while creating the home life they desire. By addressing some of these structural barriers, employers can help to create a workplace that will attract and retain highly qualified women. The implications of our research for academic employers are myriad.

Full Story: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2009/09/29/shandy

Monday, September 28, 2009

Office of Diversity pursues applications despite hiring freeze

Daily Egyptian
By Christina Spakousky
Published: Sunday, September 27, 2009
Updated: Sunday, September 27, 2009

University officials are reviewing applications for the associate chancellor for the Office of Diversity, attempting to fill the position by Jan. 1.

Chancellor Sam Goldman said the university has been trying to fill the position since September 2008, which is why the search is immune from the university’s recently announced hiring freeze.
According to the job description, the associate chancellor will serve as chief diversity officer and report to Goldman. The office is responsible for several operational units including the Affirmative Action Office, the Black Resource Center and University Women’s Professional Advancement.
Sept. 11 marked the official application deadline, and Harold Bardo, chair of the search committee, said they are now evaluating candidate qualifications.
Bardo said the search committee consists of 11 people from various departments on campus including Disability Support Services, the Alumni Association and Student Affairs.
Around 10 applications have been received and it would take two to three weeks to get through them, Bardo said.
“We’ve asked the committee to review the applications as they come in. It’s (now) a matter of sitting and discussing how compatible the applicant is,” Bardo said.
Despite drafts of proposed changes to the position, Bardo said no changes were made and none will be made in the future.
“The position has been advertised and we can’t change the responsibilities,” he said.
Linda Smith, interim associate chancellor for diversity, said she applied for the permanent position but has no idea how many candidates she is up against.

Full Story: http://www.siude.com/news/office-of-diversity-pursues-applications-despite-hiring-freeze-1.1915558

MORE THAN BLACK

The Telegraph
Calcutta, India
Saturday , September 26 , 2009

“You lie!” These are the words with which Republican Joe Wilson interrupted his president’s speech in Congress earlier this month. Mr Wilson’s grammar is ambiguous. His words hang between a specific allegation and a general truth: the president is lying, or the president lies. To jump from that to the next stage is easy. If one knows that the president lies, then is Mr Wilson’s you referring to only the president, or to the president and his kind? If the latter, then who belongs to Barack Obama’s kind? Already, that thing of darkness is calling out to be acknowledged. And this is precisely what Jimmy Carter, ex-president and octogenarian Democrat, did on TV soon after. From his long knowledge of the American south, he had no doubt at all that much of the animosity towards Mr Obama was based on the fact that he was a black man. But, even more significantly, the president himself publicly disagreed with Mr Carter’s view, saying that race was not the “overriding issue” here. And with this cool dismissal, the first black president of the United States of America went back to being what he is much more comfortable being: a president who happens to be black.
This is a tightrope that Mr Obama, the person as well as the president, will never be spared from having to walk. When he called the police stupid for arresting a black man trying to break into his own home after locking himself out, he had to control the dam age by inviting this man and the policeman who arrested him to his own home for a drink. There, he oversaw a peace-making chat between the black professor and the white policeman, during which his own stakes in the situation — as a man whose colour was more complicated than either black or white — were played down with a calculated mix of the smart and the casual. Earlier, while campaigning for presidency, he had to dissociate himself from the radicalism of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, without disavowing his love and respect for the reverend. He did so, in his “race speech” of March 2008 in Philadelphia, by writing his personal story into it and yet avoiding a “racial stalemate” by making sure that “our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black”.

Full Editorial: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090926/jsp/opinion/story_11541192.jsp

SEARS SUED BY EEOC FOR AGE DISCRIMINATION

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Press Release
September 25, 2009

61-Year-Old Denied Position at Corpus Christi Store Because of Age, Federal Agency Says

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A Corpus Christi Sears store violated federal law by refusing to hire a 61-year-old applicant because of his age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit against Sears, Roebuck and Co., doing business as Sears #1217, the Sears store at 1305 Airline Road refused to hire the applicant into a loss prevention / asset protection associate position despite his qualifications and 27 years of experience. Sears explained to the EEOC that the man was “not a good fit and would be too hard to train.” A former Sears employee told the applicant in late October 2007, several months after he initially applied for the position, that the manager of the Loss Prevention Department felt he was “too old” for the position. Sears subsequently hired a number of individuals, most of whom were under 30, and none of them had experience comparable to the 61-year-old applicant.
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division (EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck and Co. d/b/a Sears #1217, Civil Action No. 2:09-cv-00253) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. In its complaint, the EEOC seeks back pay and liquidated damages, rightful place hiring for the applicant into a comparable position or front pay in lieu thereof, as well as injunctive relief.
“Given today's economic climate, we are seeing more and more older workers choosing to remain in the workforce and compete for scarce jobs," said Judith G. Taylor, supervisory trial attorney for the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office, which is handling this case. “Too often employers simply write off older applicants, with age being the determinative factor. All people, regardless of age, deserve an equal chance to compete and advance in the workplace, and the EEOC will fight for the rights of older workers, by litigation if necessary.”
In fiscal year 2008, the EEOC received 24,582 charges alleging age discrimination. This is an increase of 27 percent from fiscal year 2007, and nearly 65 percent over the past 10 years.
In July, the Commission held a public hearing on age discrimination and barriers to the employment of older workers. Additional information about the hearing can be found on the EEOC’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/abouteeoc/meetings/7-15-09/index.html.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.

EEOC SUES AT&T FOR DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Press Release
September 25, 2009

Telephone Company Refused to Hire Qualified Diabetic Applicant Because of Disability, Federal Agency Charges

AUSTIN, Texas – AT&T Services, Inc., doing business as Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, L.P. (AT&T), a major telephone company, violated federal law by refusing to hire an applicant simply because he is an insulin-dependent diabetic, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, AT&T violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to hire an applicant as a cable splicer technician in Austin only because of his “insulin use” for type 2 diabetes. Indeed, according to the EEOC, the applicant indisputably had the necessary experience and expertise to perform the job and had previously safely performed a similar job for AT&T for many years after he was diagnosed with diabetes.
Refusing to hire a qualified individual because of his or her disability, record of disability, or because the employer perceives a person as being disabled, violates the ADA. After the EEOC’s San Antonio Field office determined that AT&T had violated the law, it filed suit (CASE NO. A09CA700JN) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the victim, as well as injunctive relief.
“Hiring decisions should be based on an applicant’s qualifications and not on myths, fears and stereotypes about actual or perceived disabilities related to diabetes and insulin use,” said Senior Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office.
According to its web site, Dallas-based AT&T “is recognized as one of the leading worldwide providers of IP-based communications services to businesses.” Further information about the company is available at its web site, http://www.att.com.
“Employers must make hiring decisions based on the applicant’s ability to perform the duties of the job,” said Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “This company flatly refused to consider an applicant for employment simply because he is an insulin-dependent diabetic. AT&T should not have relied on generalized and grossly incorrect assumptions about a diabetic’s ability to perform a job, especially considering that the applicant worked for about 13 to 14 years in a similar job for AT&T, approximately ten years of which he was an insulin-dependent diabetic.” The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Court Cites Ledbetter Law in Reversing Its Prior Decision in Equal Pay Case

Workforce Management
An employer’s refusal to respond to an employee’s request for a pay raise can be a violation of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a federal appeals court has ruled in reversing its own earlier decision.
September 15, 2009

An employer’s refusal to respond to an employee’s request for a pay raise can be a violation of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a federal appeals court has ruled in reversing its own earlier decision.
In its original March 24 ruling in Mary Lou Mikula v. Allegheny County of Pennsylvania, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia affirmed a lower court’s ruling that had dismissed a claim filed by Mikula under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Mikula, a grants coordinator hired in 2001 by the Allegheny County Police Department, had lobbied unsuccessfully for a salary increase, arguing that a man in a comparable position was paid $7,000 more a year. When the pay raise was not granted, she sued under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
In January, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which eases time limits on age discrimination claims. The law states that an unlawful employment practice occurs when an individual becomes “subject to a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice.”
In its original ruling, the court “acknowledged the passage of the Act and explained that it did not change the result because it required the adoption of a discriminatory compensating decision rather than, as in this case, a request for a raise that was never answered,” according to the opinion.
However, in seeking a rehearing, “for the first time, Mikula defines her claim as a ‘classic paycheck accrual’ case, which, she asserts, is exactly the type of claim that the act was passed to protect. She claims that the county’s lack of response to her raise requests qualify as discriminatory pay decisions or ‘other practices.’ … Under this rationale, each paycheck that Mikula has received is discriminatory and constitutes a new violation that renews the statutes of limitation,” the court said in its revised ruling September 10.

Full Story: http://www.workforce.com/section/00/article/26/67/79.php

OFCCP Webinar Presentations Available

The Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has made available its recent American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA) webinar series presentations: "Construction Contractors: 16 Steps to AA Compliance," and "New Federal Supply and Service Contractors: What You Need to Know."

The presentations are in PowerPoint format. They are available at: http://www.dol.gov/esa/ofccp/

Discriminatory Twist in Networking Sites Puts Recruiters in Peril

Workforce Management
Recruiting and Staffing
September 2009

Sourcing applicants from Twitter or LinkedIn or screening candidates through Facebook or MySpace may open employers to discrimination charges. By Fay Hansen

In the rush to cut recruiting budgets and avoid the avalanche of résumés now generated by job boards, employers are increasingly tapping professional and social networking sites as a sourcing tool.
Some employers now rely heavily or even exclusively on Twitter or LinkedIn to fill open positions. While this approach may create short-term cost savings and new efficiencies, it may also skew applicant pools and trigger discrimination lawsuits.
“Networking sites, including Twitter, exclude whole populations,” says Jessica Roe, managing partner at Bernick, Lifson, Greenstein, Greene & Liszt in Minneapolis. “We are going to end up with a very homogenous workforce. The social networks represent limited social groups and very small labor pools. It’s an enormous issue.”
According to the latest data from Quantcast, only 5 percent of LinkedIn users are black and only 2 percent are Hispanic.
“Social networking sites are problematic because the population is limited and highly selective,” Roe notes. “I anticipate more race and age claims over the next two years, and a significant portion will be from sourcing through social networking sites, where the users are generally white and age 20 to 40. We’ll see lawsuits.
“Employers don’t want to pay recruiters, so they take the path of least resistance, but they have to look very carefully at the applicant pool and cast a much broader net. Recruiters are often swept up by the latest process. Minor decisions lead to major consequences.”
Using networks for recruiting is ripe with risk for future discrimination claims, says Pamela Devata, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago.
“Sourcing from professional network sites such as LinkedIn carries a risk that the method could be challenged on discrimination grounds,” Devata says. “It represents a hiring pool that is not open to the general population. Using a limited network may have a disparate impact. If hiring through these networks can be challenged, it will be.”
Employers should consider the risk of litigation arising from disparate impact claims.

Full Story: http://www.workforce.com/section/06/feature/26/68/67/

Behind the U.N. hoopla, a new agency for women emerges

CNNPolitics.com
Story Highlights
United Nations consolidates agencies, creates group focused on women's issues
Women's advocates say previous agencies lacked clout
Roughly 60 percent of the world's population living in poverty are women and girls
By Moni BasuCNN

(CNN) -- A parade of world leaders took the lectern at the United Nations on Wednesday. But days before the speeches on a host of issues, the global body quietly undertook an issue that often flies under the radar: Women.
Last week, the United Nations consolidated four agencies that tackle women's issues and created a new super agency. Humanitarian workers around the world embraced the move. It was about time, they said, that the world got serious about how half its population lives.
The 1945 charter on which the United Nations was founded mandates equal rights for men and women. Since then, the United Nations has added new agencies that focus specifically on children, the environment, refugees, health, education, atomic energy and Palestinians. All report directly to the secretary general, except the agencies pertaining to women.
Women's advocates said the agencies were run by lower-ranking officials and lacked clout.
In 2006, a high-level panel on U.N. reform described the women's agencies as "incoherent, under-resourced and fragmented." It recommended that the United Nations create a dynamic agency focused on gender equality and women's empowerment. And last year, a coalition of 300 private development agencies launched the European Campaign for Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR), which pressured the United Nations to create a single organization to address what it described as consistent neglect of women's needs.
Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS-Free World, said a double standard persists, despite the image of the United Nations as a strong women's advocacy machine. The only thing the U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has in common with the well-known U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) is a similar sounding name, Donovan said.
UNIFEM had neither the high-level U.N. staff nor the money of UNICEF, said Donovan, who worked at UNICEF for 15 years. She said UNIFEM's entire global budget equaled the budget of the UNICEF operation in Ethiopia.
Donovan hopes the new agency will "lift the ideals that are worded so eloquently in U.N. declarations and resolutions off of the inert pages they're written on and plant them in real women's lives."
"Women who have been leading and achieving for decades without the help of the U.N. system will now enjoy the strengths and benefits that the U.N. can offer," she said.
Development agencies shared high expectations for the new agency's promotion of women's rights in a world where a disproportionate number of the suffering and persecuted are female.
"This is a great move," said Helene Gayle, president of CARE, an international humanitarian agency that focuses on empowering women and girls in developing nations.

Full Story:http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/09/24/UN.women/index.html

Monday, September 21, 2009

STARK, DELAURO CALL FOR GENDER EQUITY IN CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS

NEWS – CONGRESSMAN PETE STARK
239 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5065
www.stark.house.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 18, 2009
CONTACT: Brian Cook, (202) 225-3202

STARK, DELAURO CALL FOR GENDER EQUITY IN CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS
Letter Urges Secretary of Labor to Update 29-year-old Regulations

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA) and Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) sent a letter co-signed by 24 of their colleagues urging Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis to modernize the affirmative action goals set by the Office of Federal Contracts and Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to reflect the realities of female participation in the construction industry today.

Rep. Stark: "The regulations for federal contractors in the construction industry are out of date and must be updated. Our equal opportunity policies should reflect the progress our country has made, as well as the most up-to-date census data."

Rep. DeLauro: “Modernizing these contract requirements is a no-brainer. These OFCCP standards are based on forty-year-old data that in no way reflect the considerable progress we have seen in the construction industry over the past four decades. These standards should reflect the America of 2010, not the America of 1970.”

Below is the full text of the letter:

The Honorable Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor
Frances Perkins Building
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20210

18 September 2009

Dear Secretary Solis:

Congratulations on your confirmation. We are writing to request a re-evaluation of the affirmative action goals for women set by the Office of Federal Contracts and Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in the regulations implementing Executive Order 11246. As you know, the current goal for the utilization of women within Federal construction contracts and subcontracts has not been updated from a level of 6.9% of total work hours since 1980. We believe that with the historic levels of public investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the continued and substantial under-representation of women in numerous industries in which that Act is likely to create jobs, the time is right to review this goal and reaffirm the Federal Government’s commitment to gender equity in the workplace.

Background:
At the time of the original affirmative action regulations in 1978, the OFCCP found that “a review of statistics relating to women in the construction industry shows an almost total exclusion of women from employment. Continued reliance by contractors on established hiring practices may reasonably be expected to result in a continuation of almost total female exclusion”. (i)

The OFCCP standards – which progressed from 3.1% to 5% to 6.9% over a period of three years – were designed to end this exclusion and they have made a very positive start. However, the resulting 6.9% participation goal has not been further expanded in over 30 years. This standard is outdated and woefully inadequate to reflect the current availability of qualified women to perform jobs in a variety of industries. The fact that the construction industry is still characterized as a non-traditional occupation (NTO) for women (one in which women comprise less than 25% of the general workforce) is evidence of remaining barriers and the need for Federal action.

There are a number of reasons why it is important to expand access for women into NTOs – particularly construction and the trades. Research has shown that women in NTOs typically earn 20-30% more than those in traditionally female jobs and have greater access to more comprehensive benefits and unionization. NTOs also tend to have more established career ladders that allow women to progress to higher wages and benefits. Furthermore, NTOs employ roughly equal proportions of black, white, and Hispanic women (ii), so inclusion efforts will benefit women of all backgrounds.

Despite these benefits, barriers to the entrance of women into NTOs remain. These include a lack of training and apprenticeships for women, as well as isolation and sexual harassment in the non-traditional work environments (iii). As we re-tool the country’s workforce to changing industries such as alternative energy, the Federal Government has both a chance and a responsibility to remove barriers to opportunity, improve the position of women in society, and boost the economy.

What We Ask:
A recalculation of the 6.9% participation rate is long overdue. The original number was based on data from the 1970 Census. A more appropriate participation goal, based on current workforce and demographic data, is both legally defensible and critical to assist women in making more gains in non-traditional fields. We also ask that this figure be subject to regular review – as opposed to the current “indefinite extension” status that has left the inclusion figure at 6.9% since 1980.

The 1978 regulations reference a working committee that was to make recommendations and conduct oversight for the women’s participation goal. It is unclear to what extent this committee was or is (still) active at the OFCCP. Is this committee currently active within the OFCCP in any form? If not, we propose that a similar committee be re-instated – and comprised of a variety of members, from both the Federal government and non-governmental advocacy groups.

Conclusion:
With the historic Federal investment in the areas of infrastructure and the ‘green’ economy, there must come a matching Federal commitment to gender equity and opportunity. Recalculating the goal for female participation in OFCCP contracts is a small, but important step for the Federal government to take in ensuring equal access to the new jobs that the Administration will create.

Thank you for your attention to this issue. We look forward to hearing from you. If you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Megan Curran in the office of Congressman Stark on (202) 225-5065 or Leticia Mederos in the office of Congresswoman DeLauro on (202) 225-3661.

Sincerely,

Pete Stark
Rosa DeLauro
Joe Baca
Steve Cohen
Keith Ellison
Eliot Engel
Bob Filner
Hank Johnson
Marcy Kaptur
Dennis Kucinich
Barbara Lee
John Lewis
Stephen Lynch
Jim McDermott
Jerry McNerney
Carolyn Maloney
Eric Massa
Mike Michaud
Donald Payne
Chellie Pingree
Jared Polis
Jan Schakowsky
Joe Sestak
Jackie Speier
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Henry Waxman


i. Wider Opportunities for Women (2005). “Women and Nontraditional Work”.
www.wowonline.org/resources/publications.index.asp

ii. Wider Opportunities for Women (2005). “Women and Nontraditional Work”. www.wowonline.org/resources/publications.index.asp

iii. Wider Opportunities for Women (2005). “Women and Nontraditional Work - Barriers”. www.wowonline.org/resources/publications.index.asp

Obama's shunning response to the racism debate

The Los Angeles Times
September 21, 2009
Opinion
Gregory Rodriguez

The president is smart to simply refuse to talk about whether racism motivates his critics.

Barack Obama had no choice but to disagree with Jimmy Carter. Carter called some of Obama's most hysterical critics racist. But our first nonwhite president once again tried hard not to be sucked into a racial uproar. As much as he and his liberal allies like to declare that Americans need to hash out racial issues publicly, the subject of race can only damage his presidency. On Wednesday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs categorically declared that the president did not think the criticism directed at him and his policies was "based on the color of his skin." The next day, Obama declined to answer a reporter who asked again about Carter's remarks. Over the weekend, the president insisted that the "biggest driver" of the vitriol was distrust of government.I don't interpret Obama's refusal to engage as a sign of passivity. In fact, after half a century of talking about race until we're blue in the face (so to speak), the president's silence is one of many signs that he is showing us a new, post-civil-rights, post-affirmative-action way to deal with America's racial divide.The worst thing about affirmative action -- or "positive discrimination," as the Europeans accurately call it -- is that it seeks to turn racial and ethnic stigmas into socioeconomic advantages. Rather than seeking to mute or erase the significance of racial distinctions, affirmative action turned what was perceived as bad into good. It spread the fallacy that being black, brown or, in some cases, yellow (although I've never really met a yellow person) allows anyone to somehow sail through school, careers and life. That's a crock, but the rationale behind it was summed up in 1978 by Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun in his partial dissent in the Bakke case: "I suspect that it would be impossible to arrange an affirmative action program in a racially neutral way and have it successful," he wrote. "To ask that this be so is to demand the impossible. In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race.... And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently."Blackmun figured, or at least hoped, that we'd only have to live with this counterintuitive logic for a decade or so, but he was wrong. This isn't to say that affirmative action wasn't justified -- at least on some levels -- or that it didn't help anybody. But as much as it helped minorities climb into the upper middle classes, it also institutionalized a racial glass ceiling.

Full Story: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-rodriguez21-2009sep21,0,1722453.column

OFCCP Issues two new Contractors' Guides

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has issued two new technical assistance guides for federal contractors, a guide for new federal contractors and a technical assistance manual for supply and service contractors. The New Contractors' Guide (August 2009) provides basic information about the laws enforced by the agency and the compliance responsibilities of federal contractors. The guide covers the obligations of both supply and service and construction contractors.

For a copy of the New Contractors' guide, visit the OFCCP's website at: http://www.dol.gov/esa/ofccp/ or go directly to the guide (pdf format): http://www.dol.gov/esa/ofccp/TAguides/New_Contractors_Guide.pdf.

The OFCCP has also issued a Technical Assistance Guide for Supply and Service Contractors (August 2009). The guide is intended for use by non-construction contractors and subcontractors who have obligations under the laws enforced by the agency. According to the OFCCP: The contents of this guide have been designed to assist supply and service contractors and subcontractors in:�� Understanding their contractual obligation to comply with the Federal laws that place nondiscrimination and affirmative action responsibilities on Federal contractors and subcontractors;�� Understanding the role of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in administering and enforcing these Federal equal employment opportunity laws;�� Developing written affirmative action programs required under OFCCP-administered laws; and�� Preparing for an OFCCP compliance evaluation.

For a copy of the Technical Assistance Guide for Supply and Service Contractors, go to: http://www.dol.gov/esa/ofccp/TAguides/SS_Technical_Assistance_Guide.pdf or the agency's general website, http://www.dol.gov/esa/ofccp/.

ABERCROMBIE & FITCH SUED BY EEOC FOR RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MUSLIM TEEN APPLICANT

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Press Release 9-17-09

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.– National clothing retail giant Abercrombie & Fitch, doing business as Abercrombie Kids, allegedly discriminated against a 17-year-old Muslim by refusing to hire her because she wore a hijab, or head scarf, in observance of her sincerely held religious beliefs, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in discrimination lawsuit filed today in federal court.
According to the EEOC’s suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, Civil Action No. 09-CV-602-GKF-FHM, Abercrombie Kids interviewed Samantha Elauf for a position at its store located in Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa, Okla. The EEOC alleges that Abercrombie refused to hire Elauf because she was wearing a head covering when she was interviewed and this violated the company’s “Look Policy,” which prohibited the wearing of head coverings. Elauf had applied for a sales position with Abercrombie Kids.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, protects workers from discrimination based upon religion in hiring and in the terms and conditions of their employment. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
“The EEOC is committed to eliminating religious discrimination in the workplace” said Webster Smith, acting director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, which is responsible for the agency’s litigation in Oklahoma. “As religious diversity increases in the workplace, companies need to be more vigilant in respecting and balancing employees’ needs to practice their religion, including engaging in religious expression.”
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Michelle M. Robertson added, “Employers must abide by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and reasonably accommodate employees’ sincerely held religious practices unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the company. It is unlawful for employers to treat applicants or workers differently based on their religious beliefs or practices in any aspect of employment, including recruitment, hiring and job assignments.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

COMMISSION APPROVES PROPOSED ADA REGULATIONS FOR PUBLIC COMMENT

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
PRESS RELEASE
9-16-09

New Regulations Conform to Changes Made by ADA Amendments Act of 2008

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) revising its regulations to provide that an individual seeking protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) establish that he or she has a disability consistent with the original, expansive intent of Congress when it enacted the ADA in 1990. The NPRM, approved by 2-1 vote, carries a 60-day period for public comment.
The NPRM makes several significant changes to the definition of the term “disability” necessitated by enactment of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The NPRM will be available from the Commission’s website, www.eeoc.gov, along with a question-and-answer guide about the proposal and instructions for submitting public comments.
“Today’s Commission action marks a key step in implementing the landmark Amendments Act, which will smooth the road for those trying to establish disability under the ADA,” said Acting EEOC Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The Commission acted following careful and thorough deliberations, and we look forward to reviewing any and all public comments before issuing our final regulation.”
Acting EEOC Vice Chair Christine M. Griffin said, “Congress recognized that the intent of the ADA was being misread, that its goals were being compromised, and that action had to be taken. These regulations will shift the focus of the courts away from further narrowing the definition of disability, and put it back where Congress intended when the ADA was enacted in 1990.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an antidiscrimination statute, was signed into law in July 1990. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The statute requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees and job applicants with disabilities—defined as people with mental or physical impairments that substantially limit a major life activity, persons with a record of a disability, or who, while not actually disabled, are regarded as disabled.
The ADA Amendments Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2009, states that Congress expects the EEOC to revise its regulations to conform to changes made by the Act, and expressly authorizes the EEOC to do so. The new law rejected the holdings in several Supreme Court decisions and portions of EEOC’s ADA regulations that Congress believed construed the definition of “disability” too narrowly, preventing individuals with impairments such as cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder from bringing discrimination claims. The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the proposed rule make it easier for an individual alleging employment discrimination based on disability to establish that he or she meets the ADA’s definition of “disability.” The ADA Amendments Act also modifies the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment discrimination in the federal workforce on the basis of disability.
The EEOC voted June 17 to adopt the rules changes, which then went to the Office of Management and Budget for review, and to federal agencies.
Consistent with the ADAAA, the NPRM emphasizes that the definition of disability -- an impairment that poses a substantial limitation in a major life activity -- must be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA, and should not require extensive analysis; that major life activities include “major bodily functions”; that mitigating measures, such as medications and devices that people use to reduce or eliminate the effects of an impairment, are not to be considered when determining whether someone has a disability; and that impairments that are episodic or in remission, such as epilepsy, cancer, and many kinds of psychiatric impairments, are disabilities if they would “substantially limit” major life activities when active. The regulation also provides a more straightforward way of demonstrating a substantial limitation in the major life activity of working, and implements the ADAAA’s new standard for determining whether someone is “regarded as” having a disability.
The 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule-making will officially commence upon publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register, which is expected to be published the week of September 21, 2009. The EEOC encourages the public to offer its views and suggestions.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dueling 'racist' claims defuse once powerful word

The Associated Press
By JESSE WASHINGTON (AP)
Everybody's racist, it seems.
September 17, 2009

Republican Rep. Joe Wilson? Racist, because he shouted "You lie!" at the first black president. Health care protesters, affirmative action supporters? Racist. And Barack Obama? He's the "Racist in Chief," wrote a leader of the recent conservative protest in Washington.
But if everybody's racist, is anyone?
The word is being sprayed in all directions, creating a hall of mirrors that is draining the scarlet R of its meaning and its power, turning it into more of a spitball than a stigma.
"It gets to the point where we don't have a word that we use to call people racist who actually are," said John McWhorter, who studies race and language at the conservative Manhattan Institute.
"The more abstract and the more abusive we get in the way we use the words, then the harder it is to talk about what we originally meant by those terms," he said.
What the word once meant — and still does in Webster's dictionary — is someone who believes in the inherent superiority of a particular race or is prejudiced against others.
This definition was ammunition for the civil rights movement, which 50 years ago used a strategy of confronting racism to build moral leverage and obtain equal rights.
Overt bigotry waned, but many still see shadows of prejudice across the landscape and cry racism. Obama's spokesman has rejected suggestions that racism is behind criticism of the president, but others saw Wilson's eruption during the presidents' speech as just that.
"I think (Wilson's outburst) is based on racism," former President Jimmy Carter said at a town hall meeting. "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president."

Full Story: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hgbvXT1pzalqgsKAEWJkqD2HVk6AD9AP7RKG1

Committee Calls for Affirmative Action in Colombia Higher Education

Journal of Blacks in Higher Education
Weekly Bulletin
September 17, 2009

Slavery was abolished in the South American nation of Colombia in 1851. Today official figures show that Afro-Colombians make up 11 percent of the total population. But the actual percentage of the population that is black may be as high as 26 percent, according to some demographic experts...

An investigative committee set up by the Colombian government has found that black Colombians face significant “structural discrimination.” Life expectancy, education levels, and income are lower for Afro-Colombians than for those of other ethnic groups in the country.
The committee recommended that quotas be established so that blacks are guaranteed places at Colombia universities, in the armed forces, and in government jobs. The committee also urged that the government institute incentives for private firms to hire black managers and for political parties to field black candidates.

Full Story: http://www.jbhe.com/latest/news/9-17-09/colombia.html

White conservatives say it's their turn for empowerment

latimes.com
Are Obama's policies fueling the angry protests, or is race part of the equation?
By Robin Abcarian and Kate Linthicum and Richard Fausset
September 17, 2009
Reporting from Los Angeles and Atlanta

Last weekend, Cindy Wilkerson, a 44-year-old former social worker, helped organize three busloads of protesters who rode from Mississippi to Washington for the big protest targeting President Obama and his policies. The passengers, all white, wore T-shirts identifying themselves without irony as "Freedom Riders."Decades ago, that phrase evoked something quite different. It was bestowed on the predominantly black and white activists who traveled to the Deep South to challenge segregation -- and were sometimes met with hostility and violence."We were riding for freedom," said Wilkerson. "For the freedom of Mississippians and all Americans. . . . The consensus is that this is not a left-wing government, but that this is more of a Marxist [government], you know?"The Age of Obama has brought many things to the American scene -- none more important than the proof that skin color is no barrier to success. But for some white Americans, it has also helped crystallize a sense of dislocation, anger and powerlessness.Some, like Wilkerson's group, have even adopted the language and techniques used by blacks, women, Latinos and gays in their civil rights struggles. But some analysts ask: Is this white victimhood? Strident TV host Glenn Beck of Fox News Channel tapped into the feeling this summer when he accused Obama of having "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."For some, it was reinforced by the sight of a New Haven, Conn., firefighter telling senators that the Latina judge Obama had nominated to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, had discriminated against him in an appellate case because he is white. Or Obama condemning the arrest of a black Harvard professor by a white police officer."White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to," wrote commentator Patrick J. Buchanan in response to Obama's speech on race during the 2008 campaign. "This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard." Among the grievances: affirmative action provisions that "advance black applicants over white applicants."Wilkerson complained that Saturday's protest did not win sufficient media coverage. "It's like we are the forgotten people," she said. She says she believes the movement is not about race -- a black man, she said, helped design the Freedom Riders T-shirt -- nor victimization, but about legitimate disagreements with Obama's policies.Ron Walters, an emeritus professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland who was a campaign manager for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 1980s presidential bids, has written that today's anti-tax "tea party" protests and heated town hall rhetoric are reminiscent of the conservative resurgence of the 1970s. That movement was driven in part by racial hostility and the ability of its leaders to convince white followers that they were victims. (The years after the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act saw court-ordered integration of schools and the adoption of affirmative action programs.)"Now that's precisely what we have today," Walters said Wednesday. "In terms of many people who lost the election feeling disempowered and disenfranchised. The movement of conservatism is dethroned. People are feeling, therefore, resentful about that and determined to demonstrate that resentment in ways that intimidate people, quite frankly."

Full Story: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-white-victimhood17-2009sep17,0,2618101.story?page=2

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Muslims Widely Seen As Facing Discrimination

Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
September 9, 2009

Overview
Eight years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Americans see Muslims as facing more discrimination inside the U.S. than other major religious groups. Nearly six-in-ten adults (58%) say that Muslims are subject to a lot of discrimination, far more than say the same about Jews, evangelical Christians, atheists or Mormons. In fact, of all the groups asked about, only gays and lesbians are seen as facing more discrimination than Muslims, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of the public saying there is a lot of discrimination against homosexuals.

The poll also finds that two-thirds of non-Muslims (65%) say that Islam and their own faith are either very different or somewhat different, while just 17% take the view that Islam and their own religion are somewhat or very similar. But Islam is not the only religion that Americans see as mostly different from their own. When asked about faiths other than their own, six-in-ten adults say Buddhism is mostly different, with similar numbers saying the same about Mormonism (59%) and Hinduism (57%).

By a smaller margin, Americans are also inclined to view Judaism and Catholicism as somewhat or very different from their own faith (47% different vs. 35% similar for Judaism, 49% different vs. 43% similar for Catholicism). Only when asked about Protestantism do perceived similarities outweigh perceived differences, with 44% of non-Protestants in the survey saying Protestantism and their own faith are similar and 38% saying they are different.

Full Report: http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=436

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

President Obama Announces Intent to Nominate Chai Feldblum to EEOC

The White House
September 14, 2009

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:

Chai R. Feldblum, Nominee for Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Chai Feldblum is a Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center where she has taught since 1991. She also founded the Law Center’s Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic, a program designed to train students to become legislative lawyers. Feldblum previously served as Legislative Counsel to the AIDS Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. In this role, she developed legislation, analyzed policy on various AIDS-related issues, and played a leading role in the drafting of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and, later as a law professor, in the passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. She has also worked on advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and has been a leading expert on the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. As Co-Director of Workplace Flexibility 2010, Feldblum has worked to advance flexible workplaces in a manner that works for employees and employers. Feldblum clerked for Judge Frank Coffin and for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and B.A. from Barnard College.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Obama-Announces-More-Key-Administration-Posts-9/14/09/

Employee Testing After Ricci: What to Do Now

Workforce Management
September 2009

Employers who learn that a test or other selection device has a discriminatory impact on some employees now find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Using the test may lead to one kind of discrimination claim, while discarding the test may lead to another. That makes it more important than ever that employers think through the possible issues before using any test or selection device in making employment decisions. By James A. Burns Jr.

To help choose among job applicants or candidates for promotions, many employers use tests or other selection devices such as educational requirements aimed at predicting who is likely to do well in the relevant position. One risk of doing so is that such tests or devices, although neutral on their face, may screen out a disproportionate number of women, minorities or members of other protected groups. Upon learning that a test would have such an effect, an employer wary of facing a discrimination suit may be tempted not to use the test in deciding who to hire or promote.
On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court held that such an approach can easily backfire. In seeking to avoid unconscious discrimination against some employees, an employer may intentionally discriminate against others. In Ricci v. DeStefano, the court held that scrapping a test because a statistically significant proportion of a particular race or sex did poorly on the test amounts to intentional discrimination against those who did well on it, unless the employer can show a “strong basis in evidence” for fearing that using the test would lead to liability.
Employers who learn that a test or other selection device has a discriminatory impact on some employees now find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Using the test may lead to one kind of discrimination claim, while discarding the test may lead to another. That makes it more important than ever that employers think through the possible issues before using any test or selection device in making employment decisions.
Two kinds of discrimination Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits two types of employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex and religion. First, the law prohibits intentionally treating one employee better than another because of such protected characteristics. This is called “disparate treatment” discrimination. Second, the law prohibits unintentional discrimination that results when an employer uses a test, selection device or practice that is neutral on its face but has a disproportionate adverse impact on members of a protected group. This is “disparate impact” discrimination. In the Ricci case, the court addressed what happens when an employer may face both kinds of claims from different groups of employees.
The court’s decision The city of New Haven, Connecticut, used a written test to help decide which firefighters would be eligible for certain promotions. In reviewing the test results, the city discovered that the test had a statistically significant adverse effect on African-Americans. Not only was the passing rate for black firefighters only about half of what it was for whites, but none of the employees with top scores—the only ones eligible for promotion under city rules—was black. Understandably, the city worried that using the test would lead black employees to file, and probably win, a suit alleging that the test had a discriminatory racial impact, so the city decided not to use the test in deciding who could be promoted.
In what likely appeared to the city as a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” it was then sued by 18 firefighters (17 white and one Hispanic) who had done well on the test, alleging that the city had discriminated against them based on race by refusing to use the test and thus denying them a chance at promotions.
By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of those non-black employees, holding that they had been subject to intentional race discrimination by the city. The court acknowledged that the city’s test had a statistically significant adverse effect on blacks, but said that alone did not justify throwing out the results and thereby discriminating against white and Hispanic employees based on their race, given that the city had taken reasonable steps to make sure that the test was job-related.
To justify discarding a test, the court held, an employer must be able to show a “strong basis in evidence” that it will lose a disparate impact suit brought by employees who would be screened out if the test were used. Statistics alone are not enough.

Full Story: http://www.workforce.com/section/03/feature/26/64/87/

Monday, September 14, 2009

We Can’t Stop Talking About Race in America

The New York Times
September 13, 2009
The New Season Theater

By DAVID MAMET

PRESIDENT OBAMA, like his predecessor President Bill Clinton, has suggested that this country engage in a dialogue about race.
But what has our 230-year national experience been but a dialogue about race?
Our earliest drama on the subject, “Metamora,” by John Stone (1829), concerns the relations between the Massachusetts settlers and Prince Philip of the Wampanoags. So does the novel “Hope Leslie” by Catherine Sedgwick (1827).
Much of the contentiousness that characterized the First Continental Congress centered on the subject of slavery. Since then the Fugitive Slave Law, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Missouri Compromise, the Dred Scott decision, the Emancipation Proclamation, the 14th Amendment and so on, down to the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the trial of the Scottsboro Boys, the internment of the Japanese, busing, affirmative action and the 2008 election, have kept the subject alive in the national discourse.
My current play, “Race,” is intended to be an addition to that dialogue.
As a Jew, I will relate that there is nothing a non-Jew can say to a Jew on the subject of Jewishness that is not patronizing, upsetting or simply wrong. I assume that the same holds true among African-Americans.
In my play a firm made up of three lawyers, two black and one white, is offered the chance to defend a white man charged with a crime against a black young woman. It is a play about lies.
All drama is about lies. When the lie is exposed, the play is over.

Full Story: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/theater/13mame.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1252951450-Sl9KLTZPdDYdPVRc3IoZHA

ALLSTATE TO PAY $4.5 MILLION TO SETTLE AGE BIAS SUIT

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Press Release
September 11, 2009

EEOC Resolves Class Case Against Insurance Giant Over Rehiring Policy Which Adversely Impacted Older Workers During Companywide Reorganization

ST. LOUIS – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a major settlement of an age discrimination class lawsuit against Allstate Insurance Company, one of the nation’s largest insurers, for $4,500,000 to be paid to approximately 90 older former employees, in addition to significant remedial relief.
In its lawsuit, filed in October 2004 under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the EEOC charged that in the year 2000 Allstate adopted a hiring moratorium for a period of one year, or while severance benefits were being received, that applied to all its employee-sales agents who were part of its Preparing For The Future Reorganization Program. The program was part of Allstate’s reorganization from employee agents to what the company considered independent contractors. The EEOC alleged that the policy had a disproportionate impact on Allstate’s employees over the age of 40 because more than 90 percent of the agents subjected to the hiring moratorium were 40 years of age or older. Allstate denies that its hiring moratorium violated the ADEA.
“Discrimination against older workers is counterproductive and wrong, and the EEOC has been taking a close look at ways to increase our law enforcement efforts in this area,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Corporate America must be more vigilant in guarding against job bias affecting older workers, or risk action by the EEOC. This settlement shows there is a high price to pay for discriminatory employment policies and practices that adversely impact older workers.”
In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Smith v. City of Jackson that a facially neutral policy, such as Allstate’s hiring moratorium, which disproportionately affected those age 40 and over violated the ADEA unless the policy was based on a reasonable factor other than age.
As provided in the Stipulated Order resolving the litigation, pending approval by U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (Civil Action No. 4:04CV01359 ERW), Allstate will pay former employees who sought employment -- or would have sought employment with the company in the absence of its policy -- a total of $4.5 million to be divided among the class via a settlement fund. The order, in effect for three years, also provides for discrimination prevention training, posting of notices, reporting and monitoring, and other relief designed to educate Allstate managers in order to prevent future violations of the ADEA.
In 2007, the parties settled claims of disparate treatment which were asserted for two individuals. Those claims were settled for $250,000 and are not covered by this settlement.
EEOC Regional Attorney Barbara A. Seely of the agency’s St. Louis District Office, which handled the litigation, said, “This settlement should go far in educating Allstate’s managers about their responsibilities under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The training and other injunctive remedies provided will reinforce these prohibitions and help the company effectively prevent inadvertent violations of the ADEA going forward.”
In July, the Commission held a public hearing on age discrimination and barriers to the employment of older workers. Additional information about the hearing can be found on the EEOC’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/abouteeoc/meetings/7-15-09/index.html.
According to its web site (www.allstate.com), the Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate “is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer. A Fortune 100 company, with $130 billion in total assets, Allstate sells 13 major lines of insurance. Allstate was founded in 1931 and became a publicly traded company in 1993. The Allstate Corporation encompasses more than 70,000 professionals.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Your Career: Female bosses and harassment

msnbc.com
Women in positions of power targeted more often than the rank-and-file
By Eve Tahmincioglu
msnbc.com contributor
updated 12:23 p.m. ET, Mon., Aug 24, 2009

Ellen worked in the male-dominated world of television ad sales for a decade without experiencing much sexual harassment. But things changed when she started to climb the ladder.
Ellen, who lives in San Francisco but did not want her full name used, says her male colleagues and even her superiors started talking about their sexual experiences in graphic detail when she was around and made lewd comments that made her uncomfortable enough to complain to her human resource department.
“I was being harassed. I was being undermined,” she explains. “I think they were intimidated by me, and this was the only way to get power back.”
Thomasina Tafur, who runs a consulting firm in Memphis, Tenn., experienced a similar phenomenon when she rose up the corporate ranks at a major transportation company. One colleague would make over-the-top comments in a room full of managers about how good she looked.
“The higher you were, the more of a power trip it became for men, and sometimes I thought they were not even aware of what they said,” she says.
Female managers are 137 percent more likely to experience sexual harassment than their rank-and-file counterparts, according to a recently released study.
Even Heather McLaughlin, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota and the primary investigator on the study, was surprised by the findings.
“It’s sort of a paradox,” she says. “You would expect that having that status and power over other employees would protect you from that behavior.”
Turns out it doesn’t, and McLaughlin’s conclusion is that “because of gender norms, people are still not accepting women in power positions.”
The report, “A Longitudinal Analysis of Gender, Power and Sexual Harassment in Young Adulthood,” looked at data that tracked nearly 600 individuals from adolescents into their 30s.
Undermining authority
The women in the study reported that men were not sexually harassing them because they wanted a relationship with them, McLaughlin says. “It was more about proving themselves,” she says about the harassers.

Full Story: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32476564/ns/business-careers

Sotomayor ’76 shaped U. affirmative action practices

The Daily Princetonian
By Mendy Fisch Senior Writer
Published: Monday, September 14th, 2009

When Sonia Sotomayor ’76 was a sophomore at Princeton, she wrote her first legal document supporting affirmative action.
In the spring of 1974, Sotomayor, a co-leader of the student group Accion Puertorriquena, drafted a formal complaint claiming that University administrators displayed “a lack of commitment” to increasing the number of Latino students and faculty at the University.
Accion Puertorriquena and the Chicano Caucus, another student group, submitted the complaint to the New York office of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) on April 18, 1974. Over the next few years, the University established new hiring and recruitment practices that gradually changed the ethnic makeup of the faculty as well as that of the student body.
As Sotomayor’s stance on affirmative action came under fire during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings this past summer, her advocacy for affirmative action during her time at Princeton helped shed light on her political convictions.
The complaint
Sotomayor arrived on campus in 1972, at a time of unprecedented change in affirmative action hiring practices at universities and businesses across the country.
Thomas Wright ’62, a former University vice president and secretary who was serving as the University’s general legal counsel at the time, recalled that when Sotomayor was on campus, there was “a convergence of efforts” that ushered in a new era of hiring practices at establishments across the country.
“Efforts by the U.S. government, by the universities (importantly including Princeton which was unusually active in the overall effort), and student groups” all led to a reassessment of employment norms, Wright said in an e-mail.
But Sotomayor and many of her peers were not satisfied with the University’s progress in this area. While the University was making strides in hiring women and members of some minority groups, the administration showed a “total absence of regard, concern, and respect” for Latinos and their culture, Sotomayor wrote in a letter to The Daily Princetonian in May 1974. She went on to describe the University’s lack of progress in instituting affirmative action practices for Latinos as “an attempt — a successful attempt so far — to relegate an important cultural sector of the population to oblivion.”
Joseph Schubert ’74, who became friends with Sotomayor while they were undergraduates, recalled that “the University’s record in hiring Latino faculty and administrators was abysmal in those days,” adding that “students rightly felt that they had to publicize that record and bring pressure to change the situation.”
Submitting a complaint to HEW was Sotomayor’s idea, Frank Reed ’76, the head of the Chicano Caucus around the time when the complaint was submitted, told The Washington Post. She handed him a typed copy of the complaint the winter before, Reed said, and asked him for his support.
The complaint stated that, while Princeton’s official affirmative action plans established timetables of goals for hiring members of some minority groups, no such plan had been established for Latinos. It asserted, moreover, that the University offered no courses on Puerto Rican or Mexican culture, that it did not make a sincere effort to recruit qualified Latinos for University positions and that it employed too few Latinos in non-academic positions.
In the ensuing weeks, news of the complaint sparked debate at the University and across the country. Several Latino groups at other colleges also submitted complaints about the hiring practices at their institutions.
“Princeton in many ways typifies the lack of commitment on the part of universities in general,” Reed told the ‘Prince’ that May, as Accion Puertorriquena and the Chicano Caucus reached out to students at other schools, including the University of Pennsylvania.
The complaint also evoked a critical reaction from some at Princeton.
The Latino groups “feel no compulsion, rational or moral, to prove that there exist qualified Ph.D.s whom Princeton has statistically overlooked,” Robert Segal GS ’84 argued in a letter to the ‘Prince,’ noting that “exceptionally qualified Ph.D.s of less exotic extractions are often treated with indifference.”
HEW responded quickly to the complaint. In May 1974, James Crowley, an employee of the Office of Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education, met with Sotomayor and other Latino students, as well as then-associate provost Conrad Snowden. Following the meeting, Snowden agreed to send drafts of the University’s affirmative action plan to HEW, Sotomayor and the Princeton University Women’s Organization by the end of June.
Results of pressure from a ‘loyal opposition’
In the two years after Sotomayor filed the complaint, the University marked many milestones in its implementation of an affirmative action program in hiring. Luis Garcia, a Latino, was named assistant dean of student affairs in September 1974. Less than a year later, the University submitted a formal affirmative action plan to HEW, and the plan was approved in September 1975. Around that time, then-University president William Bowen GS ’58, along with students and other University members, testified before the U.S. Department of Labor on the University’s affirmative action practices.
It is difficult to determine exactly how much of this was done as a result of the complaint, said Wright, who authored the new affirmative action plan with Snowden.
The University was required to submit a plan to HEW “as part of a much larger program by the federal government at the time,” Wright added.

Full Story: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2009/09/14/23770/

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Case Against the Case Against Affirmative Action

The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 09, 2009, 01:00 PM ET

By Kevin Carey

Crossing the Finish Line, the new book from former Princeton president William Bowen, former Macalaster College president Michael McPherson, and Matthew Chingos, is getting a lot of coverage today. (The Chronicle here, the Times here). I haven't read it yet (no review copy, ahem), but it looks very interesting. The authors tracked 94,000 students who entered 21 flagship public universities in the fall of 1999. They found major differences in graduation rates among different student groups, with minority students less likely to finish on time. This is consistent with other research.
Bowen and McPherson have also come out swinging against the so-called "mismatch" theory of why affirmative action is supposed to be bad for minority students. The mismatch theory states that student are ill-served by attending a college that is more academically challenging than they would otherwise have attended, particularly if the students weren't academically stellar to begin with. Crossing the Finish Line found the opposite to be true: black men who had less than a 3.0 grade point average in high school were more likely to graduate from the most selective flagship universities than from less selective institutions.
They also cite programs at institutions like the University of Maryland--Baltimore County where a combination of high academic expectations and high levels of academic support produce positive graduation outcomes for black students. Unfortunately, such programs are few and far between. Why? They cost money, of course, but lots of things that colleges do cost money. This is a matter of priorities. Why isn't helping minority students earn degrees more important than, say, fielding a really good basketball team?

Full Comment: http://chronicle.com/blogPost/The-Case-Against-the-Case/7977/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

For Certain Types of Students, an Ever-Receding Finish Line




The Chronicle of Higher Education


By David Glenn


September 8, 2009



Ten years ago this month, after the summer of American Pie and The Blair Witch Project, roughly 94,000 students arrived as first-time freshmen at 21 American flagship public universities. Four years later, 49 percent of those students had graduated from the institution where they began. Two years after that, an additional 28 percent had done so, for a total six-year graduation rate of 77 percent.
At less-selective public universities, the numbers are even worse. For one recent cohort, the six-year graduation rate at the University of Cincinnati was 46 percent, according to federal data. At the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, it was 51 percent.
All of those rates will need to improve—a lot—if the nation is going to come remotely close to the Obama administration's goal of restoring America's position as the country with the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
In Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Public Universities, released on Wednesday by Princeton University Press, three scholars dissect the experiences of the entering class of 1999 at those 21 flagship universities, along with the entire public-university systems of Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.
"Graduation rates are hugely consequential for what's going to happen to the country down the road," says William G. Bowen, a former president of Princeton University. Mr. Bowen wrote Crossing the Finish Line with Matthew M. Chingos, a graduate student in government at Harvard University, and Michael S. McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation and a former president of Macalester College.
Among the book's central themes: Large disparities exist in graduation rates by gender, ethnicity, and family income, even after accounting for differences in standardized test scores and high-school preparation. That is not exactly news, but the book grounds those findings in an unusually rich set of data.
Related Content

Imagine two students with, say, SAT scores of 1050 and B-minus high school grade-point averages. The only visible difference between them is social class: One of them comes from a family whose income is below the national median, and neither of his parents completed college. The other comes from a family with above-median income, and both of his parents completed college. At all but one of the universities studied in Crossing the Finish Line, the more-privileged student would have been significantly likelier—between 6 and 17 percentage points likelier, depending on the institution—to graduate within six years. (The exception was the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where the graduation rate for less-privileged students is slightly higher than the rate for their wealthier peers, after controlling for differences in high-school background.)
The gaps shaped by gender, race, and ethnicity are more complex. At the 21 flagship universities in the study, African-American women and Hispanic women did relatively well. Their six-year graduation rates (72 percent and 76 percent, respectively) were close to the rate for white men (75 percent). But African-American men and Hispanic men lagged far behind, with rates of 59 percent and 66 percent, respectively. Even after controlling for differences in test scores and high-school preparation, black male students' graduation rate was 5 percentage points behind that of white men.
"What we were struck by," Mr. Bowen says, "is just how pervasive and persistent and substantial these disparities are."


Princeton University Press News Release: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8971.html

Purchase this book from the AAAA Bookstore: http://astore.amazon.com/ameriassocfor-20

Repair Job at Justice

The Washington Post
Editorial
The delicate job of restoring credibility to the department's Civil Rights Division
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NO PART OF the Justice Department was more harmed by partisan politics during the Bush administration than the Civil Rights Division. Political litmus tests were inappropriately and illegally applied in hiring career and nonpolitical posts. ("Libs" and "pinkos" need not apply.) Department leaders de-emphasized and at times discouraged litigation in areas that had been central to the division's mission, including voting rights, housing and employment discrimination. They often shunned cases against police departments and other institutions engaged in a "pattern or practice" of discrimination. Morale plummeted, leading to a mass exodus that sapped the division of skilled lawyers and institutional memory.
The New York Times reports that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. intends to refocus the division on core functions and hopes to hire more than 50 additional lawyers.
Significant advances have been achieved in protecting the voting rights of minorities and in combating discrimination in all facets of American life. But Mr. Holder is right to try to restore the vitality and integrity of the beleaguered division. Without the force and presence of the government, many of these advances could be imperiled.
Yet Mr. Holder must be careful not to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors. If it was wrong then to fill career slots only with "loyal Bushies," it would be wrong now to reserve slots only for committed liberals seeking to make up for lost time.
And he should seize the moment to rethink goals and approaches, even if it means challenging liberal orthodoxy. Is housing discrimination, for example, still such a vast problem that only the concerted efforts of the Justice Department can remedy the harm? The answer may be "yes," but we would hope that Mr. Holder and his civil rights team at least test these and other assumptions.
They should also rethink whether 50 new slots are needed to augment the 340 or so lawyers already on staff.

Full Story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/08/AR2009090803101.html

Obama Back to School Speech Reveals Racial Fears

Diverse Issues in Higher Educaton
By Arelis Hernandez
Sep 9, 2009, 08:38
Summary: Sesame Street and President Barack Obama have two things in common when it comes to managing public discourse.

Story:
Sesame Street and President Barack Obama have two things in common when it comes to managing public discourse. In the 1960s, the popular television show was accused of promoting socialism because it taught children how to share. Now, the president is being called a communist for encouraging students to stay in school.

These are just two examples of how seemingly innocuous rhetoric can metamorphose into a controversy of national proportions. While commentators railed the debate as “silly,” some experts say the issue is an articulation of racial fears.

African-American political expert Ronald Walters says race and politics are the two issues behind the contention.

“I’ve never seen something like this when a president wanted to speak to children and there was any kind of noticeable opposition,” Walters says. “With an African-American president there are going to be some firsts.”

The back-to-school address had school districts around the country asking — for the first time for many—whether to allow students to hear their country’s leader speak. In some states, like Texas, schools opted out completely from airing the speech or interrupting the school day for the live webcast.

“You wouldn’t have this if [former President Bill] Clinton wanted to talk to school children even though at that time we were an ideologically divided country,” Walters says.

Former presidents like Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — all of whom made similar speeches—are viewed as father-like figures and putting Obama in that role makes some Americans nervous. That’s because, Walters says, Obama is perceived as an outsider to the mainstream white culture.

University of Maryland American Studies Associate Professor Sheri Parks says whereas Reagan was like a grandfather to the nation; Obama represents a younger, cooler father figure that collides with stereotypical “bogeyman” archetypes of the young black male.

But Joel Gomez, associate professor of educational leadership at The George Washington University, says trying to explain or understand public reaction to this episode can be problematic because it could be interpreted in various ways.

Full Story: http://diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_13034.shtml

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

GEORGINA C. VERDUGO APPOINTED DIRECTOR OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights E-Mail
September 8, 2009

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has appointed Georgina C. Verdugo as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As the Department’s civil rights and health privacy rights law enforcement agency, OCR investigates complaints filed by the public and provides technical assistance and public education to ensure understanding of and compliance with Federal nondiscrimination and health information privacy laws.
Ms. Verdugo’s extensive experience includes leading the Washington, D.C. office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, one of the nation’s preeminent Latino civil rights organizations; serving in President Clinton’s Administration as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legislative Affairs, where she directed and supervised the legislative agenda for the Division of Civil Rights and other Department Divisions; working as Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard of California; and serving as Executive Director of Americans for a Fair Chance, a collaborative civil rights project.

From 2002 to 2003, Ms. Verdugo was Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego, California, where she prosecuted border crime cases and advised on civil rights matters, and from 2004 to 2008 she was Associate Counsel for the Los Angeles Unified School District, where she provided legal and policy advice, and advised the District on civil rights, First Amendment, and other issues affecting the students and the school district. Just prior to joining OCR, Ms. Verdugo was a Partner in private practice in Los Angeles representing public entities.

Ms. Verdugo received her BA from the University of California, Los Angeles and her law degree from the University of San Francisco. She also received a Master of Laws degree from the University of London (King’s College/London School of Economics), and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School, Harvard University.

E-Verify Rules Take Effect Today (September 8, 2009)

According to the Department of Homeland Security:
September 2, 2009

Federal Contractors Required to Use E-Verify Beginning Sept. 8, 2009
WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is reminding federal contractors and subcontractors that effective Sept. 8, 2009, they will be required to use the E-Verify system to verify their employees’ eligibility to work in the United States if their contract includes the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify Clause. In July, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano strengthened employment eligibility verification by announcing the Administration’s support for the regulation that will award federal contracts only to employers who use E-Verify to check employee work authorization.
E-Verify, which compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) (see link to the right) against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility, is a free web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The system facilitates compliance with federal immigration laws and helps to deter unauthorized individuals from attempting to work and also helps employers avoid employing unauthorized aliens.
The Federal Acquisition Rule; Case 2007-013; Employment Eligibility Verification (see link to the right) extends use of the E-Verify system to covered federal contractors and subcontractors, including those who receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Applicable federal contracts awarded and solicitations issued after Sept. 8 will include a clause committing government contractors to use E-Verify.
Companies awarded a contract with the E-Verify clause on or after Sept. 8 will be required to enroll in E-Verify within 30 days of the contract award date. E-Verify must be used to confirm that all new hires, whether employed on a federal contract or not, and existing employees directly working on these contracts are legally authorized to work in the United States.
More than 145,000 participating employers at nearly 550,000 worksites nationwide currently use E-Verify to electronically verify their workers’ employment eligibility. Since Oct. 1, 2008, more than 7.6 million employment verification queries have been run through the system and approximately 97 percent of all queries are now automatically confirmed as work-authorized within 24 hours or less.
More information on the program is available on the "E-Verify" Web site link (www. dhs.gov/e-verify) to the right. E-Verify customer support is also available by calling toll free (888) 464-4218.
http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=109cc691d0673210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=75bce2e261405110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD

Most contractors must use the government's electronic employment verification system for new hires and existing employees.

On July 8, 2009, the following press release was issued by the Department of Homeland Security:


Secretary Napolitano Strengthens Employment Verification with Administration's Commitment to E-Verify
Release Date: July 8, 2009
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press SecretaryContact: 202-282-8010

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today strengthened employment eligibility verification by announcing the Administration’s support for a regulation that will award federal contracts only to employers who use E-Verify to check employee work authorization. The declaration came as Secretary Napolitano announced the Department's intention to rescind the Social Security No-Match Rule, which has never been implemented and has been blocked by court order, in favor of the more modern and effective E-Verify system.
“E-Verify is a smart, simple and effective tool that reflects our continued commitment to working with employers to maintain a legal workforce,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Requiring those who seek federal contracts to use this system will create a more reliable and legal workforce. The rule complements our Department’s continued efforts to strengthen immigration law enforcement and protect critical employment opportunities. As Senator Schumer and others have recognized, we need to continue to work to improve E-Verify, and we will.”
E-Verify, which compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility, is a free web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The system facilitates compliance with federal immigration laws and helps to deter unauthorized individuals from attempting to work and also helps employers avoid employing unauthorized aliens.
The federal contractor rule extends use of the E-Verify system to covered federal contractors and subcontractors, including those who receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. After a careful review, the Administration will push ahead with full implementation of the rule, which will apply to federal solicitations and contract awards Government-wide starting on September 8, 2009.
On average, one thousand employers sign up for E-Verify each week, totaling more than 134,000 employers representing more than half a million locations nationwide. Westat, an independent research firm, found that 96.9 percent of all queries run through E-Verify are automatically confirmed work-authorized within 24 hours. The figure is based on statistics gathered from October through December 2008. Since October 1, 2008, E-Verify has processed more than six million queries. In an April 2009 American Customer Satisfaction Index Survey of over a thousand E-Verify participants, E-Verify scored 83 out of a possible 100 points—well above the latest federal government satisfaction index of 69 percent.
In addition to expanding participation, DHS continues to enhance E-Verify in order to guard against errors, enforce compliance, promote proper usage, and enhance security. Recent E-Verify advancements include new processes to reduce typographical errors and new features to reduce initial mismatches. In May 2008, DHS added access to naturalization database records which increased the program’s ability to automatically verify naturalized citizens’ status, reducing citizenship-related mismatches by 39 percent. Additionally, in February 2009, the agency incorporated Department of State passport data in the E-Verify process to reduce mismatches among foreign-born citizens. Other initiatives underway will bring further improvements to Federal database accuracy; add new tools to prevent fraud, misuse, and discrimination; strengthen training, monitoring, and compliance; and enhance privacy protections.
DHS will be proposing a new regulation rescinding the 2007 No-Match Rule, which was blocked by court order shortly after issuance and has never taken effect. That rule established procedures that employers could follow if they receive SSA No-Match letters or notices from DHS that call into question work eligibility information provided by employees. These notices most often inform an employer many months or even a year later that an employee’s name and Social Security Number provided for a W-2 earnings report do not match SSA records—often due to typographical errors or unreported name changes. E-Verify addresses data inaccuracies that can result in No-Match letters in a more timely manner and provides a more robust tool for identifying unauthorized individuals and combating illegal employment.
As Governor of Arizona, Secretary Napolitano signed legislation mandating all employers in the State use E-Verify. Implementation of this legislation has received high marks from employers across Arizona and the USCIS Ombudsman (in a December 2008 report).
For more information on E-Verify, visit www.uscis.gov/everify.
###
http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1247063976814.shtm

See also: http://www.workforce.com/archive/article/26/53/27.php