Thursday, April 29, 2010

Diversity Starts at the Top

The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 28, 2010, 06:23 PM ET
By Libby Sander

Amid the scattered predictions of who might be chosen as the next NCAA president was a fervent hope among some in college sports that the association's next leader would be a woman or a minority. That didn't happen.
But for Dennis E. Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, a league of Division I historically black colleges, the important thing, he said, was that the selection process was fair.
"If I thought that it was a closed process, then I would be jumping up and down off this table," Mr. Thomas said in a telephone interview from his Virginia Beach office. "But I don't think it was."

Full Story:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Imagine if the Tea Party was Black

San Francisco Sentinel
25 April 2010
By Tim Wise

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure - the ones who are driving the action - we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.
So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans?

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E-Verify Initiatives Include Discrimination Referrals

Ogletree Deakins
USA April 23 2010

Approximately 192,000 employers are now participating in E-Verify, the electronic employment eligibility verification system operated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Following the release of a report detailing some continuing issues with the E-Verify system (see the report in the March 2010 issue of the Immigration eAuthority), USCIS issued a fact sheet outlining a series of initiatives designed to improve the accuracy and efficiency of E-Verify. In addition to providing employee and employer civil rights and civil liberties videos and establishing an employee hotline for inquiries, issues and complaints regarding E-Verify, USCIS announced an agreement with the Department of Justice’s Office of Special Council for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) to refer allegations involving potential discrimination gleaned from E-Verify.

Full Story:

Legal Alert: Court Emphasizes that Evidence of Training Is a Must

Ford & Harrison LLP
Louis Britt

For over 10 years, employers have been able to avail themselves of an affirmative defense to sexual harassment allegations by an employee against a supervisor/manager in those situations where no tangible adverse employment action has been taken against the employee. This defense is known as the Faragher/Ellerth defense, and can be invoked where the employer can demonstrate that: (1) it exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior, and (2) the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or to otherwise avoid harm. Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 807 (1998); Burlington Indus. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742, 764-65 (1998). The vast majority of employers have anti-harassment policies including reporting procedures and protocols for employees to follow, have disseminated those policies and procedures to all employees, and have required employees to acknowledge receipt of the policies. However, the adoption, dissemination and acknowledgment of receipt of the policy by the employee may not be sufficient for employer to invoke the affirmative defense.
Recently, in Bishop v. Woodbury Clinical Laboratory, No. 3:08-cv-1032 (M.D. Tenn. 2010), the court rejected the employer's Faragher/Ellerth affirmative defense despite the fact that the employer had an existing anti-harassment policy that was published and provided to all of its employees.

Full Alert:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Negative reference leads to multimillion-dollar verdict

Greenberg Traurig LLP
Daniel B. Pasternak USA April 6 2010

Like most employers, Credit Agricole's policy is only to confirm dates of employment in response to a request for employment verification, without providing any information about a former employee's job performance. But that didn't happen to William Raedle.
Instead, according to court testimony reported in the press,his former supervisor told a prospective boss at Dreyfus Corp. that William had difficulty working with others and had mental issues. Raedle didn't get the job at Dreyfus. What he did get, however, was a big verdict in his favor against Credit Agricole. After a weeklong trial, a jury in a New York federal court deliberated only five hours to award Raedle $2.4 million in lost earnings, damage to his reputation, and punitive damages, including $200,000 in punitive damages against his former supervisor for interfering with his efforts to get a job at Dreyfus.

Full Story:

The Deepest in Debt

Inside Higher Ed
April 27, 2010
There's a subtle debate unfolding among financial aid experts and advocates for students about just how much student loan debt is too much. While some recent studies have declared a crisis in student borrowing, citing the growing number of student borrowers and the amounts they owe, the College Board, in a report released Monday, seeks to reframe the discussion by focusing on those deepest in debt.
It's not that the authors of the College Board report, Sandy Baum and Patricia Steele, don't think there's a major problem with student loan debt; they do, and their report, "Who Borrows Most? Bachelor's Degree Recipients With High Levels of Student Debt," offers plenty of troubling data. But in an era where grant money is usually insufficient to meet ever-rising tuition costs, it's not borrowing per se that's the problem, they argue; it's the amount and types of loans that are likeliest to land borrowers in significant financial trouble. ..

And while Steele warns against paying too much attention to breakdowns by race, because some of the sample sizes are small, data in the report do suggest that black graduates are likelier than students of other races to accumulate high debt totals (27 percent vs. 16 percent for white students, 14 percent for Hispanic/Latino students, and 9 percent for Asian students).

Full Story:
Full College Board Report:

Increasing diversity in science and higher education

American Association for the Advancement of Science
Contact: Ginger Pinholster 202-326-6421 (office)
571-382-0537 (cell)
American Association for the Advancement of Science

New first-of-its-kind handbook offers legal resources; April 28 teleconference to feature former US Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley

How can U.S. universities draw more women and underrepresented minorities into science fields to boost economic and security goals—while minimizing any unreasonable legal risks?
U.S. Supreme Court rulings in 2003 limited the role of race in university admissions. Those rulings didn't address faculty recruitment, though, and some state laws prohibit any consideration of race in admissions or hiring.
Now, a first-of-its-kind handbook from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Association of American Universities (AAU) offers in-depth, cross-referenced legal resources to help promote effective diversity programs for science faculty and students.
Set for release during a teleconference at 1:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, 28 April, the handbook outlines legally sustainable ways to expand diversity on campuses, particularly within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley is expected to offer brief opening remarks during the teleconference.
Other speakers will include representatives of AAAS, EducationCounsel LLC, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, and the University of Florida. Universities planners as well as reporters are invited to dial (800) 374-0748 (from the United States or Canada), or (706) 634-9041 (from other locations worldwide). The leader's name will be Daryl Chubin. The passcode will be "diversity." Those interested in dialing into the call are asked to RSVP in advance to Ginger Pinholster,
For example, universities can legally promote diversity in science fields by applying strategies such as:
providing a welcoming, inclusive environment, including appropriate mentoring and other forms of support for minority and women students;
evaluating race- and gender-neutral criteria such as a track record of inclusive conduct and multi-cultural skills;
taking into account whether a candidate emerged from a low socio-economic background, or was the first in a family to pursue a four-year college degree;
the holistic review of each candidate's merit and prospects for success, including quantitative measures such as test scores and grades as well as qualitative essays, recommendations, and interviews; and
ensuring that all criteria are relevant to the institution and the academic unit's mission and goals, and that the same criteria are applied to each candidate.

Full Press Release:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Court: Wal-Mart gender pay lawsuit can go to trial
By Bill Mears, CNN
Washington (CNN) -- A federal appeals court has certified the largest class-action employment lawsuit in U.S. history, in a long-standing dispute against retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over alleged gender bias in pay and promotions.
The divided 6-5 ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday allows the combined multiparty litigation to move ahead to trial, where a decision against the company could result in billions in damages. The Arkansas-based chain of stores has the option of appealing Monday's ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court for review.
At issue is whether more than a million current and former Wal-Mart employees can band together in their claims of discrimination, which they say has occurred over the past decade, at least.

Full Story:

Race-based Facebook Controversy Stirs Minnesota Campus

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
by John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune , April 26, 2010

The Facebook conversation that roiled the University of Minnesota Duluth in mid-April continued to reverberate last week culminating in an emotional forum on campus.
“What we see here is an escalation of vitriolic bigotry and racism,” said Helen Mongan-Rallis, who facilitated the Wednesday afternoon gathering of about 100 students, faculty and administrators in the Rafters, a meeting place on the top floor of the Kirby Student Center.
“The outrage [is] that White people would act so surprised that this happened,” said Mongan-Rallis, who is White and a native of South Africa. “For people of color this is not new.”
What happened was a conversation on the social-networking site Facebook on April 14 between two White female students after a Black female student entered the room, describing the Black student and referring to her race in derogatory terms. The conversation was posted on the students’ “walls,” making it available to all of their Facebook friends, and it quickly spread from there. One of the students has 786 friends on Facebook, Mongan-Rallis said.

Full Story:

Workplace rules and job requirements justify employers' termination decision in face of ADA claims based on alcoholism

Hunton & Williams LLP
USA April 14 2010

Establishing work rules and job descriptions for employees not only provides employees with a better understanding of job expectations, but also helps protect employers from liability for discrimination and other employment-related claims. In Budde v. Kane County Preserve, No. 09-2040 (7th Cir. March 4, 2010), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a district court’s ruling that the ADA does not protect an employee who violates workplace rules from discipline up to and including termination, even if the violation is caused by a disability.
In Budde, Charles Budde, the police chief for the Kane County Forest Preserve District (the “District”) in Kane County, Illinois, caused a car accident and injured two people when he drove after consuming several glasses of wine. As a result, Budde was charged with driving under the influence and his license was suspended while the criminal process was pending. The District fired Budde before the criminal process was complete, explaining in a letter that his termination was due to “a pattern of errors in judgment on [his] part,” inability to perform his job “due to the suspension of [his] license,” and “engaging in conduct that is below the standard expectation for [his] position.”
In response to his termination, Budde sued the District under the ADA claiming, among other things, discrimination based on his alleged disability of alcoholism. The U.S. District for the Northern District of Illinois granted summary judgment to the District, finding that Budde was fired for misconduct, not his alleged disability.

Full Story:

Statement by US Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on death of Willard Wirtz

U.S. Department of Labor

Press Release 4/25/2010

Statement by US Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on death of Willard Wirtz
WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement on the death of W. Willard Wirtz:
"Willard Wirtz liked to call me '25.' So I would call him '10.' The number suited him perfectly.
"There is a great story about the nation's 10th U.S. secretary of labor that has been passed down from labor secretary to labor secretary: During the Johnson Administration, Secretary Wirtz often visited school children around the country to talk about jobs and work. After one of his presentations, a young girl came up to him and said, 'I'm the labor secretary of the 4th grade.' 'That's wonderful,' Willard replied. 'What does the labor secretary of the 4th grade do?' 'Well,' she said, 'I clap the erasers, and wash the blackboard, and make sure we always have enough paper and crayons. And at the end of the week, I put all the mess away.' And then the girl asked, 'What do you do?' Willard replied, 'Pretty much the same thing.'
"I asked him about that story last year, when I hosted a reception for him to celebrate his autobiography, which had been recently published. We held the event in the department's labor law library, named after him and his wife, Jane. He thought back for just a few seconds, started to laugh, and admitted that the story was true. Then he whispered to me, 'I hope the job has gotten better.' At the reception, we gathered about two dozen employees who started their careers with him and were still working at the department. He was surprised to see so many still around but was even more excited about the number of young employees — economists, analysts, grants managers, attorneys, investigators — who turned out to hear him speak. 'To be a public servant . . . to be a Labor Department employee . . . it's still a marvelous way to make a living,' he remarked with great satisfaction in his voice.
"Willard Wirtz was the consummate negotiator and played a significant role in preventing and ending major labor strikes during the 1960s. He was a vocal advocate for collective bargaining. As President Johnson's 'general' in the War on Poverty, he initiated an array of programs to help at-risk youth, older workers and the hardcore unemployed. Long before the challenges and promise of workers with disabilities entered the public consciousness, both he and Jane were champions and advocates on their behalf.
"On both a personal and professional level, I owe him a debt of gratitude. One of his most important tasks during his tenure was implementing Labor Department antidiscrimination regulatory responsibilities under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As a result of his work, almost exactly 40 years after he left office, a Latina and daughter of immigrants became the 25th U.S. secretary of labor. I extend my sincerest condolences to his family, especially his sons, Phillip and Richard, and his grandchildren.
"When we last spoke, he told me that we had the best job in a president's cabinet. He said that the health, safety, well-being and dignity of working people should always come first in my mind, that every problem had a solution and that there was no greater calling than working for workers. And then he said, 'Have a little fun, too.' I promised him that I would try."
NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: Photos of Secretary Wirtz's last public appearance — at the U.S. Department of Labor on April 2, 2009 — are available at:

Victoria A. Lipnic Becomes EEOC Commissioner

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

WASHINGTON—Victoria A. Lipnic, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor, was sworn in today as a Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She was nominated on Nov. 3, 2009, and received a recess appointment to the position by President Barack Obama on March 27, 2010.
With her arrival, the EEOC returns to its full complement of five commissioners. Lipnic joins Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien and Commissioner Chai Feldblum, who also received recess appointments on March 27, and were sworn in on April 7, and Commissioners Stuart J. Ishimaru and Constance S. Barker, who were already serving on the Commission.
Lipnic’s government experience includes service as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards from 2002 to 2009. The Employment Standards Administration oversaw the Wage and Hour Division, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the Office of Labor Management Standards and the Office of Workers Compensation Programs. During her tenure as Assistant Secretary, these divisions revised regulations on overtime, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and issued the first-ever regulations for OFCCP to evaluate compensation discrimination.
“Victoria Lipnic’s breadth of experience with labor laws gives her unique insights into our work,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “She will be a valued partner as we move forward to eradicate employment discrimination from the nation’s workplaces.”
“I believe equal opportunity in work is critical to all Americans and to how we define ourselves as a nation,” Lipnic said. “I look forward to working with Chair Berrien and my fellow commissioners in this critical task. I hope that I will carry out my responsibilities in a manner that will do honor to all who have advanced the cause of civil rights in our country – with understanding and respect toward all.”
Immediately prior to joining the EEOC, Lipnic was of counsel to the law firm of Seyfarth Shaw LLP in its Washington, DC office. As part of her work for the firm, she counseled clients on compliance with numerous labor and employment laws. She has testified before Congress many times and did so before the U.S. House of Representatives on the subject of paid sick leave on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last June.
Before joining the Department of Labor, she was the Workforce Policy Counsel to the then-Majority (Republican) members of the Committee on Education and the Workforce in the U.S. House of Representatives and was an attorney for labor and employment matters for the U.S. Postal Service. Lipnic also worked as special assistant for business liaison to then-Secretary of Commerce, Malcolm Baldrige.
Lipnic received her B.A. degree in Political Science and History from Allegheny College and her J.D. from George Mason University School of Law.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

$1 million settlement in Lafayette case

The Morning Call
Deal ends EEOC sex harassment suit by several women against ex-college police officer
April 24, 2010

Lafayette College will pay $1 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against a campus police officer accused of groping female employees and subjecting them to other lewd behavior.The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit on behalf of five women who said officer Barry Stauffer continued harassing them even after they complained about him to administrators at the Easton school.One of the employees quit because of Stauffer's conduct, the EEOC said. Stauffer was dismissed in 2008, the same year the lawsuit was filed.''No one should have to endure the abuse that these women faced at work,'' EEOC Chairwoman Jacqueline A. Berrien said in a news release.

Full Story:,0,762352.story

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When it Comes to Equal Pay, Who's Worse Off--Women JDs or Women MBAs?

April 20, 2010 6:35 PM

by Vivia Chen
Tuesdsay was Equal Pay Day, but women had little reason to celebrate given how far they lag behind men in compensation. Currently in the U.S., women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Twenty-three cents might not sound like a lot until you do the math," wrote Ilene Lang, president of Catalyst, a nonprofit organization working to achieve greater equality and opportunities for working women. "The small nicks to a woman's paycheck add up to astonishing amounts. A woman who graduates high school will earn roughly $700,000 less than her male classmates over the course of her life. A female college graduate will earn $1.2 million less."
Also, women holding professional degrees (JDs, MBAs, and MDs) fare even worse--over the course of their careers, they will earn $2 million less than the men in their graduating class, says Lang. "How's that for a graduation gift?" (Lang was writing in a column posted early Tuesday on Catalyst's blog, Catalyzing.)

Full Story:

ULM to pay former dean $450,000 in agreement

the news
By Stephen Largen • • April 20, 2010

The University of Louisiana at Monroe will pay nearly half a million dollars to former business school Dean Van McGraw under the terms of a consent decree agreement related to an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought against ULM and the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.The terms of the consent decree were released Tuesday afternoon after U.S. District Judge Robbie James signed the agreement Monday.The terms state that ULM will pay McGraw $450,000 and the board will implement significant policy changes, annually train its supervisory and managerial employees concerning discrimination and submit 10 semiannual reports to the EEOC over the five-year duration of the decree.One aspect of the consent decree, that the board would reverse policy and no longer factor in retiree status when considering applicants for jobs at the system’s eight member schools, was already instituted in 2008.McGraw had been fired in 1996 under the previous policy.

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Vice President Biden Announces Strengthening of Title IX

U.S. Department of Education

Office for Civil Rights

FOR RELEASE:April 20, 2010

Washington, D.C. — Today, Vice President Biden announced that the Administration has issued a 'Dear Colleague' letter that withdraws a 2005 interpretation of Title IX policy. Enacted in 1972, Title IX mandates that any educational institution receiving federal funding for programs and activities cannot discriminate on the basis of sex. The 2005 policy issued compliance standards that were widely criticized for being inadequate and inconsistent with Title IX's nondiscrimination goals. Today's announcement reverses this interpretation, and returns to a more thorough test for assessing compliance with Title IX. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, joined the Vice President at George Washington University for this announcement.
"Making Title IX as strong as possible is a no-brainer," said Vice President Biden. "What we're doing here today will better ensure equal opportunity in athletics, and allow women to realize their potential - so this nation can realize its potential."
"There is no doubt that Title IX has dramatically increased athletic, academic, and employment opportunities for women and girls, and educational institutions have made big strides in providing equal opportunities in sports," said Secretary Duncan. "Yet discrimination continues to exist in college athletic programs—and we should be vigilant in enforcing the law and protecting this important civil right."
For more than three decades, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has provided three options to determine whether athletic programs at colleges, universities and secondary schools provide equal opportunities for athletic participation. Under one of these three options, OCR policy evaluated multiple indicators to determine the athletic interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex at educational institutions. The new 'Dear Colleague' letter clarifies that OCR does not consider survey results alone to be sufficient evidence of a lack of student interest or ability in sports.
Today's event at George Washington University also provided sports activities for youth.
"Title IX has helped women to compete at all levels in athletics, which today's event showcased," said Valerie Jarrett. "By working through the agencies, the White House Council on Women and Girls will continue to support laws such as Title IX that provide opportunities for young girls to get ahead in life."
Today's 'Dear Colleague' letter also provides recommendations for effective procedures for collecting, maintaining, and evaluating information on students' interests and abilities, including technical assistance on the nondiscriminatory design and implementation of surveys as one indicator among others of student interests and abilities.
For more information about Title IX, or to review the 'Dear Colleague' letter, please visit:

To review the OCR Dear Colleague Letter, go to:

Census Bureau Reports Nearly 6 in 10 Advanced Degree Holders

U.S. Census Bureau
Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office

Census Bureau Reports Nearly 6 in 10 Advanced Degree HoldersAge 25-29 Are Women
The U.S. Census Bureau reported today more women than men are expected to occupy professions such as doctors, lawyers and college professors as they represent approximately 58 percent of young adults, age 25 to 29, who hold an advanced degree. In addition, among all adults 25 and older, more women than men had high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees.
The tabulations, Educational Attainment in the United States: 2009, showed that among people in the 25-29 age group, 9 percent of women and 6 percent of men held either a master’s, professional (such as law or medical) or doctoral degree. This holds true for white, black and Hispanic women. Among Asian men and women of this age group, there was no statistical difference.
The data also demonstrate the extent to which having such a degree pays off: average earnings in 2008 totaled $83,144 for those with an advanced degree, compared with $58,613 for those with a bachelor’s degree only. People whose highest level of attainment was a high school diploma had average earnings of $31,283.
Also included are data on the highest level of education achieved by a wide range of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, including age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, household relationship, citizenship, nativity and year of entry. Historical tables provide data on mean earnings by attainment level, sex, race and Hispanic origin with data back to 1975, and tables on attainment levels back to 1940.
Sonia Collazo, a Census Bureau demographer, notes, “The attainment tabulations are the most detailed education-level data available from the Census Bureau. The data allow analysts to precisely track the education levels of the population, from the least to the most educated. In all, 15 levels are shown for detailed age groups by race and Hispanic origin.”

Title IX, Back on Track

New York Times
Published: April 20, 2010

For those of us old enough to remember, school sports used to be all about the boys. In 1972, Congress passed Title IX, which outlawed gender discrimination in educational programs and activities receiving federal financing, including school sports, at all levels.
The George W. Bush administration rolled back some of that progress, issuing guidelines that made it far too easy for schools to evade their obligation to provide equal opportunities. All schools had to do was hold an online survey showing that female students had no unmet sports interests. A low response rate, typical with such surveys, could be equated with a lack of interest.
This week, the Obama administration restored the pre-Bush-era approach. Schools trying to show their sports offerings comply with Title IX will be allowed to use surveys, but low responses will not count as a lack of interest in athletics. The assessment will also include more telling measures, like participation rates in feeder high schools or recreational leagues, and the views of administrators and coaches.

Full Editorial:

Women Almost Match Men in Earning Bachelor's Degrees, Census Finds

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Jill Laster
April 20, 2010

Women have nearly caught up to their male counterparts in achieving at least a bachelor's degree, according to data released on Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
About 29 percent of women 25 and older had attained at least a bachelor's degree in 2009, compared with 30 percent of men. A decade earlier, the proportions were 23 percent and 28 percent, respectively.
The census data are part of an annual survey measuring national educational attainment that the agency has conducted since 1947. This year's report on the data used a sampling of 100,000 addresses gathered as part of the Current Population Survey's Annual Social and Economic Supplement.
The pattern of women's academic achievement outdoing men's, on average, goes back more than a decade, and is now expressing itself in the awarding of both undergraduate and graduate degrees. According to the newly reported data, young women have widened the gap in achieving postsecondary degrees in the past decade. In 2009, 35 percent of women ages 25 to 29 held at least a bachelor's degree, compared with 27 percent of men. A decade earlier, the numbers were much closer: 30 percent versus 27 percent.

Full Story: (Subscription may be needed)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Statement by Wade Henderson on the Death of Civil Rights Legend, Dr. Dorothy I. Height

April 20, 2010

Contact: Maggie Kao, 202.466.2735

Statement by Wade Henderson on the Death of Civil Rights Legend, Dr. Dorothy I. Height

“It is with a heavy heart that I mourn the passing of our chairperson, Dr. Dorothy I. Height. For the past seven decades, her work and her wisdom have enriched and ennobled the civil rights movement and our nation.

Dr. Height has been an extraordinary leader, a gifted organizer, a trusted adviser, and a shrewd strategist from the days of the New Deal to these times of the Raw Deal for so many Americans. She was at every important meeting, participated in every historic struggle, and advised major national leaders from Eleanor Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Indeed, her biography is intertwined with the most significant moments of the modern civil rights movement. If Rosa Parks is the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, then Dr. Height is its Queen.

On a personal note, I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Height for more than 20 years. Her wise counsel, political acumen, and pragmatic idealism were, quite simply, invaluable. She was active in the work of The Leadership Conference right up until it was just physically impossible for her to do so, most recently, serving as honorary co-chair of our campaign to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

If, as the saying goes, service is the rent we pay for living, then Dr. Height is paid in full, many times over – and she has paid the tab for many of us as well.

It is an honor and a blessing to have known her."


Wade Henderson is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit

AAAA Mourns the Passing of Dorothy I. Height

For Immediate Release Contact: Shirley J. Wilcher
April 20, 2010 202-349-9855

American Association for Affirmative Action
Mourns the Passing of Dorothy I. Height
“Champion of Equal Opportunity and the Empowerment of All Women”

Washington, D.C. – April 20, 2010 - The American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), a national membership organization of equal employment opportunity (EEO), affirmative action and diversity specialists, mourns the passing of Dorothy I. Height, four-decades long president of the National Council of Negro Women and an icon of the civil rights movement. She was 98 years old. AAAA President ReNeĆ© S. Dunman said: “For more than half a century, Dorothy Irene Height was the quintessential women’s rights and civil rights advocate. She stood with the great ones, including A. Philip Randolph, Whitney Young and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Dr. Height was inspired by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her mentor was the late Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.

“Dr. Dorothy Height was an advisor of presidents and a tireless advocate for equal opportunity, both domestically and internationally,” added Ms. Dunman. Dorothy Height, called the “godmother of the women’s movement,” dedicated her life to service and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2002. She was also the recipient of thirty-six honorary doctorate degrees.

Dorothy Height graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree. She also did postgraduate work at Columbia University and the New School of Social Work. Dr. Height was denied admission to Barnard College reportedly because it had reached its quota of black women. “With the loss of Dr. Benjamin Hooks, former president of the NAACP, we have lost two civil rights giants within one week,” stated Ms. Dunman.

As we go forward, we will always remember Dr. Dorothy Height’s call to action: “If the time is not ripe, we have to ripen the time."

Founded in 1974, the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA) is a national not-for-profit association of professionals working in the areas of affirmative action, equal opportunity, and diversity. AAAA helps its members to be more successful and productive in their careers. It also promotes understanding and advocacy of affirmative action to enhance access and equality in employment, economic and educational opportunities.
888 16th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C. 20006

Women Deserve Equal Pay for Equal Work

The Huffington Post
Sen. Tom Harkin and Lilly Ledbetter
Posted: April 20, 2010 08:50 AM

On April 20th, Americans will observe Equal Pay Day -- the date that marks the 110 extra days that women must work into 2010 in order to equal what men earned in 2009.
Nearly half a century after Congress enacted the Equal Pay Act, too many women in this country still do not get paid what men do for the exact same work. On average, a woman makes only 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. The circumstances are even worse for Latinas and women of color.
This is wrong and unjust. But, even more, it threatens the economic security of our families. The fact is millions of Americans are dependent on a woman's pay-check just to get by, put food on the table, pay for child care, and deal with rising health care bills. Two-thirds of mothers bring home at least a quarter of their family's earnings. In many families, the woman is the sole breadwinner.

Full Story:

Dorothy I. Height, founding matriarch of civil rights movement, dies at 98

The Washington Post

By Bart Barnes Special to The Washington Post

Tuesday, April 20, 2010; 7:34 AM

Dorothy I. Height, 98, a founding matriarch of the American civil rights movement whose crusade for racial justice and gender equality spanned more than six decades, died early Tuesday morning of natural causes, a spokesperson for the National Council of Negro Women said.

Ms. Height was among the coalition of African American leaders who pushed civil rights to the center of the American political stage after World War II, and she was a key figure in the struggles for school desegregation, voting rights, employment opportunities and public accommodations in the 1950s and 1960s.
She died at 3:41 a.m. at Howard University Hospital, a spokesman there said.

Hastings defends anti-bias policy at high court

San Francisco Chronicle
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

(04-19) 18:24 PDT WASHINGTON -- UC Hastings College of the Law and a Christian club that excludes gays and lesbians battled before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday over whether the school must recognize and fund the group, a clash between a public university's anti-discrimination policies and a religious organization's right to set its own standards.
The Christian Legal Society, backed by numerous religious and conservative groups, argued that the San Francisco law school was trying to force organizations to surrender their principles in exchange for access to meeting rooms and bulletin boards.
"If Hastings is correct, a student who does not even believe in the Bible is entitled to demand to lead a Christian Bible study," the group's lawyer, Stanford law Professor Michael McConnell, told the justices in Washington. A campus NAACP chapter, he said, "would have to allow a racist skinhead to sit in on its planning meetings."

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Reversing Bush on Title IX

Inside Higher Ed
April 20, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Undoing another legacy of its predecessor, the Obama administration today plans to withdraw a 2005 clarification of a federal anti-discrimination law that critics saw as weakening enforcement of gender equity in college athletics.
Vice President Biden, joined by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other administration officials, will announce at an event at George Washington University today that they have issued a “Dear Colleague” letter overturning the 2005 interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. That policy allowed colleges and schools to use an e-mailed or Web-based survey alone to prove that they are “fully and effectively” meeting the athletics “interests and abilities” of female athletes.
Title IX, which bars gender discrimination by educational institutions that receive federal funds, gives colleges and schools three options for proving that they are providing equitable athletics opportunities to both sexes: they can have percentages of male and female athletes that are substantially proportionate to the percentage of enrolled male and female students; have a history and continuing practice of expanding participation opportunities for the underrepresented sex (almost always women); or “fully and effectively" accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.

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For a copy of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' position on Title IX surveys, go to:

Monday, April 19, 2010

A new local leader for workers' rights
Houston Chronicle
April 9, 2010, 11:33PM

The combination of wanting to leave Boston's snow and slush with the chance to work for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission led Martin Ebel to Houston.
Ebel, previously a commissioner on the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, recently joined the EEOC in Houston as its new deputy director. Before working for the Massachusetts commission, Ebel was an employment lawyer in Boston focused mostly on cases for management clients but also representing individual employees.
Ebel is a double-above-the-knee amputee and an avid golfer. He participates as an instructor in a program called “The First Swing” to teach golf and health care professionals how to use golf as a rehabilitative tool, including for those in the military who lost their limbs.
He sat down with Chronicle reporter L.M. Sixel to talk about how the EEOC is focusing on potential class-action cases, his goals for streamlining the Houston office and the ease of getting around Houston in a wheelchair. Excerpts follow.
Q: What's the biggest difference between Boston and Houston from an employment law perspective?
A: I think the biggest difference is the leanings of the court system in Texas compared to Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, the courts tend to be more pro-employee than they are here. I expected a difference. I didn't expect it to be as big a difference as it turned out to be.

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John Jay College Accused of Bias Against Noncitizens

The New York Times
Published: April 16, 2010

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Friday against John Jay College of Criminal Justice, alleging that the school engaged in a pattern of job discrimination against noncitizens who were authorized to work.
The lawsuit, considered the department’s first in years to crack down on immigration-related discrimination against noncitizens, says the college violated provisions of immigration law by demanding extra work authorization from at least 103 individuals since 2007, rather than accepting the work-eligibility documents required of citizens, like a Social Security card and a driver’s license.
The suit seeks civil penalties of $1,100 for each individual and unspecified measures to overcome the effects of discrimination. It also seeks compensation for each person affected, including the woman who set off the investigation when she complained in 2008 to the Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.

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A Case of Discrimination

The New York Times
Published: April 18, 2010

Hastings College of the Law, part of the University of California, rightly prohibits student organizations from discriminating. A Christian group that bars non-Christian and gay students sued the school for denying it funding and access to its facilities. The Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in the case. It should rule in favor of Hastings.
To qualify for official recognition, and receive money from a publicly financed university, groups at Hastings are required to adhere to the school’s nondiscrimination policy, which says that official student groups cannot refuse membership on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or other prohibited factors.
For years, the Christian Legal Society chapter at Hastings adhered to this policy. In 2004, it changed course and required members to sign a “statement of faith” that denied membership to students who did not share all of the society’s religious beliefs, as well as gay students. Hastings told the society that it could not remain a recognized group and receive money from the school unless it stopped discriminating.

Full Editorial:

Welcome to Confederate History Month

The New York Times
Published: April 17, 2010

It's kind of like that legendary stunt on the prime-time soap "Dallas," where we learned that nothing bad had really happened because the previous season's episodes were all a dream. We now know that the wave of anger that crashed on the Capitol as the health care bill passed last month — the death threats and epithets hurled at members of Congress — was also a mirage.
Take it from the louder voices on the right. Because no tape has surfaced of anyone yelling racial slurs at the civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, it’s now a blogosphere “fact” that Lewis is a liar and the “lamestream media” concocted the entire incident. The same camp maintains as well that the spit landing on the Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver was inadvertent spillover saliva from an over-frothing screamer — spittle, not spit, as it were. True, there is video evidence of the homophobic venom directed at Barney Frank — but, hey, Frank is white, so no racism there!
“It’s Not About Race” declared a headline on a typical column defending over-the-top “Obamacare” opponents from critics like me, who had the nerve to suggest a possible racial motive in the rage aimed at the likes of Lewis and Cleaver — neither of whom were major players in the Democrats’ health care campaign.

Full Editorial:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Statement by the President on the Passing of Dr. Benjamin Hooks

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 15, 2010

Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks. As I was running for this office, I had the honor of spending some time with Dr. Hooks, and hearing about his extraordinary place in our American story. For 16 years, he led the NAACP with a strong hand and a nimble mind. And all the while, he not only reminded us of that historic organization's noble mission; he inspired each and every one of us to play our part in forging a stronger nation for all Americans. While many would have been satisfied with that achievement, Dr. Hooks was a man driven to accomplish so much more. A true trailblazer, he served as the first African American criminal court judge in his native Tennessee. He became the first African American to serve on the Federal Communications Commission. He earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And throughout it all, he made the time to serve others as a mentor and preach the Gospel as a pastor.
Our national life is richer for the time Dr. Hooks spent on this Earth. And our union is more perfect for the way he spent it: giving a voice to the voiceless. Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to his wife, Frances; his daughter, Patricia Gray; and all who knew Dr. Hooks through his extraordinary good works.

Civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks dies
By Mark Bixler, CNN
April 15, 2010 10:50 a.m. EDT
Civil rights leader Benjamin L. Hooks led NAACP from 1977 to 1992
The cause of Hooks' death was not immediately known, NAACP official says
Hooks received Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2007
World War II service deepened "resolve to do something about bigotry in the South," bio says

(CNN) -- Benjamin L. Hooks, a civil rights leader who led the NAACP from 1977 to 1992, has died, said the vice president for communication at the NAACP.
The cause of death was not immediately known, the NAACP's Leila McDowell said Thursday.
Hooks was "a vocal campaigner for civil rights in the United States," said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1925, Hooks grew up in the segregated South.
Hooks served in the U.S. Army during World War II, where he "found himself in the humiliating position of guarding Italian prisoners of war who were allowed to eat in restaurants that were off limits to him. The experience helped to deepen his resolve to do something about bigotry in the South," according to a biography published by the University of Memphis, where he was a professor in the political science department.
He also was a lawyer and an ordained Baptist minister who joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and led the NAACP for 15 years.

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Employers Urged to Save Pay Documents

Workforce Management
To defend themselves against allegations of discriminatory pay practices, employers may have to go back decades to provide documentation to defend against those claims. Such records may include payroll files, compensation programs, performance reviews and any of the decisions and guidelines around starting pay, promotional pay and merit increases. By Judy Greenwald
February 2010

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 has led many employers to re-examine their document retention policies so they’ll be prepared if they are sued under its provisions, but some experts say more work needs to be done.
The act provides that every paycheck resulting from a previous discriminatory pay decision constitutes a violation of several federal laws, meaning employers may have to go back decades to provide documentation to defend against such claims.
A survey released in August 2009 by Hewitt Associates of 1,156 organizations found that 88 percent were aware of the law. It found that 38 percent had conducted a pay-equity analysis, but 36 percent had taken no action in response to the law.
“Now that litigation over compensation decisions can potentially reach back 20 years or more, it’s become important for employers to hold on to records of when and why certain compensation decisions were made,” says Jeffrey D. Polsky, a partner with law firm Fox Rothschild in San Francisco.

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DOL Publishes Enforcement Data in New Transparency Effort

The U.S. Department of Labor has launched a new website that publishes enforcement statistics, including compliance review and complaint investigations. According to the department, the website

"aims to make the enforcement data, collected by these agencies in the exercise
of their mission, accessible and searchable, using common search criteria, by
the public. It intends, also, to engage the public in new and creative ways of using this data."

Agencies whose data are provided on this site include the Employee Benefits Security Administration, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the Wage and Hour Administration.

For the OFCCP, the DOL's "Enforcement data 1.0" allows one to search the state, industry code or zip code where the enforcement activity took place. By entering the state in the search fields, one sees the name of the contractor's establishment, the location by city, state and zip code, total employees, number of minority and women workers, the date when the evaluation or investigation was closed and the nature of the closure including hiring, terminations, promotions, salary and accommodations.

This is a major advance in the public availability of contractor and employer establishment data. Contractors are advised to become familiar with this database and to do internal audits to avoid such public exposure. These data will also increase public scrutiny of the agency's enforcement efforts by the contractor community, civil rights organizations and the media.

To view the DOL's Enforcement Data website, go to:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Republicans give Obama judicial nominee cool reception
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
April 16, 2010 2:40 p.m. EDT

Washington (CNN) -- Senate Republicans offered a cool reception Friday to a federal judicial nominee who has become a political lightning rod over his liberal views and his preparation for confirmation hearings.
Lawmakers on both sides traded barbs over Goodwin Liu's qualifications and his past statements on a variety of hot-button topics during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
If confirmed, Liu, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, would be the only Asian-American currently on the appeals courts, the level just below the Supreme Court. President Obama nominated him for a seat on the San Francisco, California-based 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in February.

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Appreciation: John Paul Stevens, Retiring Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
by Shirley J. Wilcher , April 15, 2010

On April 9, 2010, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement from the United States Supreme Court. An appointee of President Gerald R. Ford, Justice Stevens is retiring with a distinguished record of jurisprudence in support of equal opportunity through affirmative action.
While he is known for being a “liberal” justice, it may be argued that Stevens, a moderate Republican from the Midwest, remained faithful to his conservative ideals. It was the Court that veered to the right. In the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case (1978), Justice Stevens opposed setting aside 16 out of 100 seats for minority students applying to the University of California at Davis Medical School. He chided the majority in the Adarand Constructors v. Pena minority contracting case, however. In Adarand the Court applied the same level of “strict scrutiny” to programs intended to remedy past discrimination as those intended to impose invidious racial classifications.

Full Editorial:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Feds slam Texas factory over discrimination claims

By the CNN Wire Staff

April 14, 2010 5:47 p.m. EDT

Dallas, Texas (CNN) -- African-American workers at a Texas pipe factory endured a string of racial slurs and harassment and were targeted by their managers when they complained, federal investigators have determined.
Black employees at the Turner Industries plant in Paris, Texas, regularly "were subjected to unwelcome racial slurs, comments and intimidation, racial graffiti, nooses in the workplace and other symbols of discrimination," the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported.
Black workers also were denied promotions and disciplined more harshly than whites, the agency concluded in a three-page letter in late March. Managers at the plant not only were aware of a "hostile environment," they also targeted workers who complained and disciplined white employees who opposed the harassment, the EEOC found.

OFCCP Director announces aggressive strategic plan and “a new day at the OFCCP”
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
USA April 8 2010

Late last week Patricia A. Shiu, Director, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a draft Strategic Plan for the agency (available here) and followed it up this week with a live Web chat. Introducing the topic of increased enforcement activities at the agency, Director Shiu advised contractors to:
Be proactive by evaluating your workforce by gender, race, national origin, religion, ethnicity, disability and veteran status; examine who is being hired, promoted, and terminated; look closely at wages for similarly situated jobs; and develop a culture where equal opportunity and diversity is valued.
In the April 5, 2010 Web chat , Director Shiu claimed she would provide greater transparency and invited comments about the Strategic Plan saying, “ [I]t's a new day at the OFCCP, and I am ready for your feedback on our proposed goals and outcomes.” Contractors should be aware of the OFCCP’s Strategic Plan as it is quite clear that the burden to demonstrate compliance will be greater than ever before.
The OFCCP’s Strategic Goals
The OFCCP’s plan, which lays out its strategic direction through fiscal year 2016, is centered specifically on two of the DOL’s strategic goals. The first goal is: Prepare workers for good jobs and ensure fair compensation. To do so, the OFCCP’s outcome goals are:
Increase workers’ incomes and narrow wage and income inequality; and
Help workers who are in low-wage jobs or out of the labor market find a path into middle class jobs.
These outcome goals clearly signal that an increased focus on pay equity is on the horizon for federal contractors. While the OFCCP regulations have required contractors to conduct self-audits of their compensation for a number of years, the agency’s enforcement of the regulations in the audits it conducts has been uneven. With the Obama Administration’s consistent message that it will aggressively seek to eliminate gender and race pay gaps for the same or similar jobs, contractors should get serious about conducting meaningful pay analysis and implementing pay adjustments where pay disparities are not justified by legitimate, job-related reasons.

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Department of Education to reinvigorate its Office for Civil Rights
Franczek Radelet PC
Dana Fattore Crumley and Jacqueline F. Wernz USA April 5 2010

The U.S. Department of Education recently indicated plans to intensify civil rights oversight and enforcement efforts by its Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR division of the Department of Education enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination against students based on sex, race, national origin and disability status in schools, colleges and universities. On March 8, 2010, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced plans to “reinvigorate” OCR, including a new focus on enforcement of relevant federal laws, the release of new policy guidance to educational institutions and the provision of technical assistance to schools, parents and students. The announcement was made in Selma, Alabama, on the 45th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” an incident during which peaceful civil rights protesters were battered by state troopers, and which ultimately led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Right Act.
In the area of enforcement, Secretary Duncan indicated that the Department plans to conduct 38 investigations, or “compliance reviews,” addressing approximately 40 issues over the coming year. On March 10, two days after Secretary Duncan’s speech in Selma, the Department announced the first of these compliance reviews, which will investigate access to educational opportunities for English Learner (EL) students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). If OCR finds that an educational institution is not compliant with federal law, the educational institution must become compliant or face the potential loss of federal funding.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

House Leader Outlines Plans for Gay Rights Legislation

Congressional Quarterly
CQ POLITICS NEWS April 13, 2010 – 1:34 p.m.

Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer signaled Tuesday that the House is likely to consider legislation this year banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, saying the proposal is not as controversial as it once was.
Hoyer said most lawmakers already are on the record on the issue because the House passed similar legislation in 2007 to bar employment discrimination based on sexual preference. “So it’s not like this is a new issue for the members,” said Hoyer, D-Md.
He also did not rule out action this year on legislation to repeal the military’s 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — another priority for gay rights groups. But he said legislative action would await recommendation from the Pentagon, noting that both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen , chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have said that they support ending the policy.

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AAAA's Gregory Chambers Profiled in

AAAA's Gregory T. Chambers Profiled in

AAAA Region III Director and president-elect Gregory T. Chambers was profiled by This profile was featured in the Diversityinc Magazine, February 2010 issue. The profile was written by Gail Zoppo and was subtitled, "An Advocate for the Underserved." Chambers, who hails from Wilmington, Delaware, is the manager of EEO and Diversity for the Delaware River and Bay Authority.

To read the profile, go to:

Supreme Court to consider whether background checks violate privacy rights of government contract employees
Proskauer Rose LLP
Katharine H Parker, Lawrence Z Lorber, Leslie E Silverman,
Paul Salvatore and Rebecca Lynne Berkebile USA March 30 2010

On March 8, 2010, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in NASA v. Nelson, agreeing to consider whether the National Aeronautics and Space Administration violated the constitutional rights of certain contract employees in non-sensitive positions by conducting extensive background checks on them.
In 2005, NASA began requiring even “low-risk” contract employees to undergo a comprehensive background investigation that asks workers a variety of personal questions, including questions about conviction history and drug treatment.
A group of contract workers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) under a contract with the federal government, on behalf of a potential class of 9,000 employees, filed suit to enjoin the conducting of the background investigations. The employees claimed the background checks violated their constitutional right to informational privacy and that the questions were not reasonably tailored to their responsibilities and level of access to confidential government information.
The district court denied the employees’ motion for a preliminary injunction, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the background checks had the potential to violate employees’ right to informational privacy and that certain questions posed to the employees and their references were not narrowly tailored to meet the government’s legitimate interests.
The Ninth Circuit also addressed the question of whether Caltech, as a private actor, could be held liable for constitutional violations that arise from the government-imposed background investigations. The court found that although there is a presumption that private conduct does not constitute government action, that presumption is rebutted when a sufficient nexus makes it fair to attribute liability to a private employer as a government actor. The Ninth Circuit found that Caltech could face liability because it did more than merely abide by the contract terms imposed by NASA. Although Caltech initially opposed NASA’s background checks, it later established a policy that employees who did not cooperate with the investigation and failed to obtain federal identification badges would be deemed to have resigned from Caltech (as opposed to merely being denied access to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

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Race-based comment found not to be "hostile"

Ogletree Deakins
USA April 2 2010

Court Rejects Harassment Claim, Noting Worker's Inaction
A federal appellate court recently held that an employee who claimed he was subjected to 14 months of racially-motivated comments cannot succeed on his Title VII racial harassment claim. According to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the case must be dismissed because the alleged behavior was not "severe and pervasive" and the employee failed to adequately pursue his complaint with his supervisors. Ford v. Minteq Shapes and Services, Inc., No. 09-2140, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (November 24, 2009).
Factual Background
Dennis Ford was employed by Min-teq Shapes and Services, Inc. (MSS) at its Portage, Indiana facility. Ford, who had worked at MSS as a forklift operator for 13 years, was the only African-American employee on site.
Ford claimed that over a 14-month period a co-worker, Joseph Wampler, often referred to him as "black African-American" or "black man." The behavior stopped when his supervisor, Steve Smith, and co-worker Miguel Altieri overheard Wampler's comments and reprimanded him.
Ford claimed that he reported Wampler's comments and several other concerns to Laura Beemsterboer, the Manager of Human Resources. Specifically, Ford alleged: that his supervisor, Ronald Humphreys, once told him that he didn't have to worry about his job because MSS "wanted to appear integrated"; that another supervisor, Lee Nuzzo, once called him a "gorilla"; and that MSS barred Ford but not oth-ers from bringing their grandchildren to the company's Christmas parties.

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Update: Former student sues Brown over expulsion
5:35 PM Mon, Apr 12, 2010

By Eric TuckerAssociated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A former Brown University student alleges in a lawsuit unsealed Monday that he was kicked out more than three years ago after being falsely accused of rape by the daughter of a major donor and fundraiser for the Ivy League school.
William McCormick III and his parents say university administrators gave him a one-way ticket home to Wisconsin after he was accused of rape in the fall of 2006. McCormick alleges the school never told the police about the rape allegations and accepted them as true without investigating.
The lawsuit says the father of the accusing student is a Brown alumnus who has "donated and raised very substantial sums of money," was in regular contact about the allegations with school administrators and contacted university president Ruth Simmons directly.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Appointments signal new era in employment law enforcement
Williams Mullen
David C. Burton, Heath H. Galloway
and J. Nelson Wilkinson USA
April 5 2010

Employers likely have not noticed a significant shift in the enforcement of labor and employment laws under the Obama administration. That is about to change. This month, the president announced recess appointments to fill 15 top spots at critical government agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board (“the Board”) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). With the influx of leftleaning leadership at these key agencies, employers will face far harsher enforcement efforts and a markedly pro-union, pro-employee regulatory environment.
The Most Pro-Union Board in Memory
The most controversial recess appointment is of Craig Becker to the Board, the agency charged with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act. Becker has served as attorney to the AFL-CIO and the SEIU; not surprisingly, he is strongly backed by unions and strongly opposed by employers. Opposition to Becker has centered on his public comments, notably his stated belief that employers “should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees’ election of representatives.” Becker is also a staunch supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act. Though this bill has stalled in Congress, employers fear Becker will attempt to effectively put the law in place through the Board’s decisions and rules. ...

Aggressive Anti-Discrimination Enforcement at a Rejuvenated EEOC
The EEOC is responsible for investigating charges of race, sex, age, disability and other types of workplace discrimination. Due largely to a lack of resources, the EEOC has been somewhat stagnant in recent years. As the economy went into its recessionary spiral, the EEOC languished under an enormous backlog of complaints brought on by the wave of lay-offs across the country. The Bush administration showed little inclination to invest in the kind of funding or staffing that would enable the EEOC to resume a forceful role in enforcing civil rights laws.

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A provision of the health care reform bill requires employers to provide reasonable breaks for nursing mothers
Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP
Jenny Swinerton USA April 5 2010

Employers may not realize that the recently signed health care reform law includes a provision which amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to require reasonable unpaid breaks for nursing employees. In addition to the unpaid break time, the amendment to the FLSA (29 U.S.C. § 207(r)(1)) provides that employers must furnish a private location, other than a restroom, which may be used by the employee to express breast milk. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to these requirements if such requirements would cause an undue hardship on the employer.
This amendment creates some confusion with existing federal law on the issue of employee breaks. While the FLSA does not require that employees be given breaks, there are federal regulations which indicate that rest periods of short duration (usually lasting 5 to 20 minutes) are considered compensable work hours. The proposed amendment, however, specifically states that employers are not required to compensate nursing mothers for reasonable break times.

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American Association for Affirmative Action Acknowledges Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on the Announcement of His Retirement

Association commends the Retiring Justice for his support of Equal Opportunity through Affirmative Action

For Immediate Release: April 12, 2009

Contact: Shirley J. Wilcher


Washington, D.C. – The American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), an association of equal opportunity, diversity and affirmative action professionals, hailed Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court John Paul Stevens for his record of jurisprudence in support of equal opportunity for all Americans. He will be missed. AAAA’s President, ReNeĆ© S. Dunman stated that, “Justice Stevens took principled stands in support of minorities and women who seek to take their rightful places in education, employment and business enterprise.” Since his confirmation in 1975, Justice Stevens understood the distinction between racial classifications that were intended to exclude and affirmative action, which is intended to aid those who suffered past discrimination and to promote diversity. As he eloquently wrote, there was a difference between a "No Trespassing" sign and a "welcome mat." Justice Stevens also recognized the authority of the US Congress to remedy discrimination against minorities and respected Supreme Court precedent, including Brown v. Board of Education.
AAAA urges the President of the United States to nominate and the Senate to confirm a successor who will continue the judicial record established by Justice Stevens. This is not the time to close the doors of equal opportunity. AAAA looks forward to a justice that will execute his or her Constitutional responsibility fully and fairly in the years to come. Ms. Dunman added: “We look forward to seeing a Court that represents all Americans on the First Monday in October.”
Founded in 1974, the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA) is a national not-for-profit association of professionals working in the areas of affirmative action, equal opportunity, and diversity. AAAA helps its members to become more successful and productive in their careers. It also promotes understanding and advocacy of affirmative action to enhance access and equality in employment, economic and educational opportunities.

888 16th Street, NW, Suite 800 * Washington, D.C. 20006 *202-349-9855 ex 1857 *
Fax: 202-355-1399 *

Special Report on Background Checking—Burden of Proof

Workforce Management
Employers will soon be asked to provide empirical evidence for screening and hiring practices based on assumptions about workplace criminality—but they’ll be hard-pressed to find it. By Fay Hansen
February 2010, p. 27-33

EmploymentGroup’s December job postings included a “trial hire” for a small assembly job, paying $9 per hour, the equivalent of $17,550 a year. The Michigan staffing firm listed requirements for the position: a high school education or general equivalency diploma, small assembly experience and “no convictions.”
Virtually all of EmploymentGroup’s client companies have a blanket “no felons” policy.
“It’s about keeping the workplace safe, and about those lawsuits we all read about,” CEO Mark Lancaster says. In Michigan, a state that spends more on corrections than on higher education, smoking pot in a park or bouncing a $500 check can produce a felony conviction.
Like most employers, EmploymentGroup doesn’t have any empirical evidence that the “no convictions” policy helps keep the workplace safe. And screening vendors, who routinely claim that criminal checks reduce workplace violence, theft and fraud, don’t have any meaningful empirical evidence either. In addition, the actual probability of a negligent-hiring lawsuit—a perceived risk that often drives criminal screening practices—remains undocumented.
Employers spend billions on criminal checks and often base hiring decisions on the results without evidence of the return on the investment or the efficacy of the decisions. The absence of empirical evidence will soon become more than a question of effective screening and hiring practices.
Within the next 12 to 18 months, employers can expect to see the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issue new guidelines that require empirical evidence for the “business necessity” defense in racial discrimination cases that arise from screening and hiring practices, according to Rod Fliegel, a partner at Littler Mendelson in San Francisco. The new guidelines are likely to upend hiring policies based on untested assumptions about criminality and workplace behaviors.

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Democrat Predicts Speedy Court Confirmation. Republicans Sound Note of Caution.

The New York Times
Published: April 11, 2010

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee predicted on Sunday that the Senate would confirm a replacement for Justice John Paul Stevens this summer, but his Republican counterpart would not rule out the use of a filibuster if President Obama were to nominate someone who was “clearly outside the mainstream.”
As members of Congress prepared to return on Monday from a spring recess, leaders in both parties took steps to position themselves in an emerging debate over the direction of the Supreme Court. The debate, which began when Justice Stevens announced on Friday that he would retire after 34 years on the court, is expected to be a dominant feature of the legislative session over the next several months.
Asked about the timing of a nomination, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Sunday, “I think we’re going to hear it soon enough so we can wrap this up this summer.” He said there was “no question” that a new justice would be in place before the start of the court’s fall term.
“It would be irresponsible to do otherwise,” Mr. Leahy said on “Meet the Press” on NBC.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

$200 Million Gender Bias Trial Against Novartis Gets Under Way
Vesselin Mitev
New York Law Journal
April 09, 2010

The trial of a $200 million gender discrimination class action suit against Swiss-owned drug maker Novartis Pharmaceuticals began Thursday with the defense saying the company "makes no claim that we are perfect" but denying that it underpaid women or intentionally promoted them less frequently than men.
"This isn't a company with a glass ceiling," defense attorney Richard Schnadig told the jury of six women and four men in the closely watched case.
The 5,600-plaintiff class in Velez v. Novartis, 04-cv-9194, claims that Novartis actively discriminated against women by discouraging pregnancies and ignoring complaints of sexual harassment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
In opening arguments, plaintiffs counsel Katherine Kimpel said that the company fostered a culture that "ignores and undermines legitimate concerns and complaints," including failing to discipline a manager who used derogatory names for women, asked female sales representatives to sit in his lap, and showed them pornographic images.
The suit also alleges that only 30 percent of the company's district managers were women.

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