Thursday, September 4, 2014

Domino's Not Liable for Sexual Harassment at Franchises

Domino's Not Responsible for Harassment at Franchise

The Domino's Pizza chain isn't responsible for the alleged sexual harassment of a 16-year-old female employee of one of its stores because the franchise agreement left all personnel decisions up to the now-bankrupt store owner, says a closely divided California Supreme Court.


A lawyer for Domino's hailed Thursday's 4-3 ruling as "a great victory for the franchise industry" - which, according to a 2007 Census Bureau study quoted by the court, accounted for nearly $1.3 trillion in annual sales nationwide.


The ruling comes a month after the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board reached a much different conclusion in another franchise case, saying McDonald's can be held jointly liable under federal law for wage violations at its restaurants.


The court case comes from Thousand Oaks (Ventura County), where the teenager, Taylor Patterson, said the assistant store manager groped her and made lewd comments soon after she started work in November 2008.

September 4, 2014 in Business, Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Leaning In, But Getting Pushed Back (and Out)

From WaPo, She the People, Brigid Schulte, Study: Uncivil Work Environment Pushing Women Out of the Engineering Field

[A] new National Science Foundation report released on Saturday about why so few women go into engineering, or stay in the field, highlights a key reason: a workplace culture of incivility toward women.

“I wouldn’t call it a hostile environment, but it’s definitely chilly,” said Nadya Fouad, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who presented the results to the American Psychological Association in a talk entitled “Leaning In, But Getting Pushed Back (and Out.)

Fouad and her colleagues surveyed more than 5,000 women who had graduated from some of the top universities with engineering degrees over the past six decades and found that 40 percent had either quit the field or never entered the profession in the first place.

For more than two decades, women have accounted for about 20 percent of all engineering degrees. Yet fewer than 11 percent of all engineers are women. And this despite a massive funding effort to get more people into STEM fields – $3.4 billion in federal funds for STEM education since fiscal 2010, with $13 million targeted directly at women.

August 16, 2014 in Business, Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

CFP: Gender, Business Ethics, and Corporate Social Responsibility

The Call: Download BEQ-specialissue_Gender-BE-CSR

From the Overview:


Gender equality is an acknowledged universal human right in itself, and is also intertwined with other core corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues such as poverty, environmental degradation, and development. Yet, the literature on gender, business ethics and CSR remains relatively underdeveloped. Our special issue seeks to fill this important research gap.


Our special issue focuses on gender, organizations and society through the lens of business ethics and CSR. It aims to bring a variety of feminist theoretical perspectives to bear on business ethics and CSR research and practice. Its purpose is to explore whether, and if so how, CSR and business ethics might contribute to wider scholarship concerning how organizations, and particularly corporations, reflect, influence, structure and impact gender relations at the organizational, as well as the societal level.


Within the field of business ethics, feminist ethics has been discussed with particular reference to the ‘ethics of care’ as it relates to stakeholder relations and organizational responsibility (for example, Wicks et al., 1994; Liedtka, 1996; Burton and Dunn, 1996; Hamington and Sander-Staudt, 2011). Yet, beyond Larson and Freeman (1997), there appears to have been relatively little engagement with the feminist “ethics of justice,” which “explicitly attempts to solve the inequities of discrimination rather than finding in women’s skills a fortuitous tool to economic efficiency (Derry, 1996: 106).” Thus, the literature on feminist business ethics remains underdeveloped, particularly in the light of developments in CSR.

August 12, 2014 in Business, Call for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

SCOTUS Grants Cert on Duty to Conciliate in Sex Discrimination Case

SCOTUS granted cert in EEOC v. Mach Mining, 738 F.3d 171 (7th Cir. 2013) involving an employer's procedural defense in a Title VII case in which the government alleged that the mining company had not hired any female miners since opening for business in 2006, despite having highly qualified applications.  The Seventh Circuit ruled  that "employers cannot challenge - and courts cannot review - the adequacy of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC)  informal pre-litigation efforts to bring employers into compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws."  

The issue is "whether and to what extent a court may enforce the EEOC's mandatory duty to conciliate discrimination claims before filing suit. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 directs the EEOC to try to negotiate [42 USC § 2000e-5(b)] an end to an employer's unlawful employment practices before suing for a judicial remedy. Mach Mining sought dismissal of the EEOC's suit on the ground that the agency failed to engage in good-faith conciliation before filing. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that "an alleged failure to conciliate is not an affirmative defense to the merits of a discrimination suit."

EEOC General Counsel David Lopez stated that in the landmark ruling the Seventh Circuit "carefully applied the letter of the law." And it did so, Lopez explained, "in a way that promotes Title VII's goals, protects victims of discrimination, and preserves the EEOC's critical law-enforcement prerogatives. . . ." Title VII does require the EEOC to "endeavor to eliminate . . . alleged unlawful employment practice[s] by informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion." However, the statute also plainly allows the Commission to sue the employer for discrimination if it "has been unable to secure from the respondent a conciliation agreement acceptable to the Commission."

One analysis of the underlying appellate decision calls it "truly a game changing decision" to hold that the alleged failure to conciliate is not an affirmative defense to the merits of a discrimination suit. It predicted the the "potential for long-lasting implications" if the EEOC "can force its will on employers without any meaningful recourse to determine whether the EEOC’s conciliation efforts were made in good faith.:

 On a broad scale, it seems the law of labor negotiations and the duty to bargain in good faith with its judicial oversight is set against the hands-off law of mediation and settlement negotiations. 

More on the case here.


July 8, 2014 in Business, Equal Employment, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hobby Lobby's Super Slippery Slope

Just in case you really believed that Hobby Lobby was a narrow decision, here is ample evidence to the contrary one week after the decision.

SCOTUS granted a temporary injunction to Wheaton College exempting it from filing the form that allows the government to cover the birth control. See Dahlia Lithwick, Quick Change Justice; WSJ, Polarized Reaction to Wheaton College Injunction.

Eden Foods, makers of organic foods, claims exemption from covering all birth control medicines. Hobby Lobby Fallout

Religious entities seek exemption from the federal order banning employment discrimination for sex and sexual orientation by federal contractors. Citing Hobby Lobby Religious Groups Ask Obama for LGBT Exemptions

For more analysis of the opinion itself, see NYT, Between the Lines of the Contraception Decision.


July 8, 2014 in Business, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More on Hobby Lobby

Some highlights on yesterday's Hobby Lobby case:

 Some of my own thoughts:

1.  This is a gender issue.  Period.

  • As Justice Ginsburg said:  It's about "women's autonomous choice."
  • The Court's distinction between contraception v. immunizations or blood transfusions is starkly sex-based.  So its ok to discriminate against women, but not kids or Jehovah's Witnesses?  There should be a challenge in there somewhere.  I know, state action? Hybrid classification with other contraception covered.
  • See Not That Anyone Cares, But Hobby Lobby

2.  Good faith belief in other legal contexts usually requires some credible support.  How can HL simply assert it has a religious belief that IUDs and morning after pills are abortive, when they are not? Elsewhere in the law--labor negotiations, putative spouse doctrine, termination of injunctions--good faith requires some factual basis upon which the party relied to form the good faith. Since religion has been used historically to discriminate against women, it is a very dangerous legal holding to give men carte blanche to excuse their sexism under the guise of religion without question. 

 3.  Here's an interesting idea.  Congress can amend RFRA to remove corporations from its protection.  Lose the battle, but win the war. Senate Democrats Mull Response to Hobby Lobby Decision

July 1, 2014 in Business, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 30, 2014

What Women Can Do After Hobby Lobby

1.  Stop shopping at Hobby Lobby.

2.  Stop working at Hobby Lobby.

3.  Protest on the public way around Hobby Lobby stores.  SCOTUS says you can.  See McCullen.

4.  Refuse, if an employer, to provide healthcare coverage for men's contraceptive health, V&V (vasectomy and Viagra).

5.  Engage in a sex strike.  Until your partner secures contraceptive healthcare coverage for you.

6.  Vote

7.  Travel back in time a century.  You won't even notice the difference. 

June 30, 2014 in Business, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Women Farmers Litigation

The most recent step in the women farmers' litigation, Love v. Vilsack (Westlaw) denying a motion of African-American farmers to intervene.

From the decision:

Between 1997 and 2000, African–American, Native American, Hispanic, and female farmers filed four similar class action lawsuits alleging that the USDA engaged in widespread discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, or gender in the administration of its farm loan and benefit programs, and that it routinely failed to investigate complaints of such discrimination. SeePigford v. Glickman, Nos. 97–1978, 98–1693 (D.D.C. filed Aug. 28, 1997, July 7, 1998) (“Pigford I ”) (African–American farmers); Keepseagle v. Vilsack, No. 99–03119 (D.D.C. filed Nov. 24, 1999) (Native American farmers); Garcia v. Vilsack, No. 00–2445 (D.D.C. filed Oct. 13, 2000) (Hispanic farmers); Love v. Vilsack, No. 00–2502 (D.D.C. filed Oct. 19, 2000) (female farmers). Judge James Robertson, a former member of this Court, denied the plaintiffs' motions for class certification in this action and in Garcia v. Vilsack .SeeLove v. Veneman, 224 F.R.D. 240 (D.D.C.2004)aff'd in part, remanded in part sub nom. Love v. Johanns, 439 F.3d 723 (D.C.Cir.2006)Garcia v. Veneman, 224 F.R.D. 8 (D.D.C.2004)aff'd and remanded sub nom. Garcia v. Johanns, 444 F.3d 625 (D.C.Cir.2006). The defendant has, however, developed an administrative claims process for Hispanic and female farmers to resolve their claims of discrimination against the USDA. Participation in the administrative claims process is conditioned on dismissal of a farmer's legal claims against the USDA.


The Association seeks to intervene in this litigation.... [I]t seeks a declaration finding that “both the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clauses of the United States Constitution mandate that its members who are eligible ‘Pigford claimants' under the 2008 Farm Bill, but did not timely file claims are entitled to file claims, under the framework established for Hispanic and female farmers.”

The motion to intervene was denied.

For more details of the history of the women's lawsuit, see Women Farmers Litigation.

June 19, 2014 in Business | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Women Lawyers Work Harder for Less

Women lawyers earn less because they are billed out at significantly lower rates.  Female Lawyers Can Work Longer and Harder but Will Still Be Paid Less.  Why?  Firms don't equally value women's work?  Firms don't think clients equally value women's work?  Or so clients can get the same work product for less? (think teachers in the 19th century) 

Another report traces a similar phenomenon back to high school: A Woman With Perfect Grades is Worth the Same as a Man with a 2.0 Average

June 5, 2014 in Business, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Empirical Database on Gender Diversity in the Patent Bar

 Saurabh Vishnubhakat (Postdoc, Duke & NIH),  has posted Gender Diversity in the Patent Bar, 14 John Marshall L. Rev. __ (2014).  From the abstract:

This article describes the state of gender diversity across technology and geography within the U.S. patent bar. The findings rely on a new gender-matched dataset, the first public dataset of its kind, not only of all attorneys and agents registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but also of attorneys and agents on patents granted by the USPTO. To enable follow-on research, the article describes all data and methodology and offers suggestions for refinement. This study is timely in view of renewed interest about the participation of women in the U.S. innovation ecosystem, notably the provision of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act directing the USPTO to study diversity, including gender diversity, among patent applicants, and of related research by the National Women’s Business Council on usage of the U.S. patent and trademark systems by U.S.-based female entrepreneurs. Analysis of gender data on the patent bar complements these studies and begins to provide a more complete picture of diversity in the U.S. patent system.


May 22, 2014 in Business, Gender, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Theorizing Billable Hours

Theresa Beiner (Arkansas-Little Rock) has published Theorizing Billable Hours, 75 Mont. L. Rev. 67 (2014).

This article looks at the ethical and diversity implications of high billable hour requirements. While corporate counsel have increasingly demanded a diverse legal workforce and emphasized the need to lower the costs of outside counsel, law firms have not responded to these concerns in a manner that is producing results. Instead, women continue to drop out of law firm practice at higher rates than their male counterparts and the costs of legal services remain high. High billable hour requirements exacerbate both these problems and have implications as well for ethical lawyering. Using data from a variety of disciplines, the article shows that not only do high billable hour requirements make large law firms difficult places for women to succeed, but they also foster work environments that are inefficient and therefore cost clients more. This has implications on a lawyer’s ethical duty not to discriminate based on sex and not to charge an unreasonable fee, and also increases the potential of lawyers making mistakes. Studies of lawyers suggest that high billable hour requirements exacerbate the difficulties women have in practice, especially for those women who have family responsibilities. This leads to high dropout rates from law firm practice that hurt both law firms and their clients. Lowering billable hours will increase the possibility that women will succeed in these workplaces while making lawyers more efficient. Using studies of sleep deprivation and sleep restriction, this article explores what clients are getting for their money from sleep-deprived high billable hour lawyers. It is clear that both sleep deprivation and chronic sleep restriction impair the average person’s ability to function on many levels—including neurocognitive performance that has important implications for lawyering. In addition, studies of workplace productivity have shown that limiting working hours can actually increase productivity. Thus, limiting hours logically should produce more efficient and ethical lawyering while making law firms more feasible work environments for women.

May 13, 2014 in Business, Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"What Works" For Women of Color Leaning In

Finding more help in "What Works for Women at Work" than in "Lean In."  

When Leaning In Isn't Enough: What I've Learned at Work as a Woman of Color

We’re closing in on the anniversary of the publication of “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” the ubiquitous women-at-work manifesto penned by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, which has sold 1.5 million copies and will also become a movie. And while “Lean In” offers important feedback to women in pithy and useful phrases like “Don’t Leave Before You Leave,” the book has a bit of a rarefied air to it. It’s hard to imagine a single working-class mother, for instance, believing she has the kind of clout and privilege that Sandberg, who is worth more than $1 billion, enjoys

February 25, 2014 in Business, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

women economists smarter than male counterparts?

Maybe.  Or so suggests the WSJ.  

February 16, 2014 in Business, Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Kansas Bill Encourages Discrimination against Same-Sex Couples

From my colleague, Will Huhn, Associate Director of the Constsitutional Law Center at Akron, one of four national centers established by Congress.  

The Kansas Bill Authorizing Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples: What Does it Provide? Is it Constitutional?

In the name of defending religious freedom, the Kansas House recently adopted a statute that would authorize any person or business to refuse service, employment, or employment benefits to same-sex couples. Is it constitutional?


[N]otice that the protection extends to "sincerely held religious beliefs ... regarding sex or gender." Not sexual orientation, but "sex or gender." It is difficult to believe that this law was written to justify gender discrimination, but that is how it is written. In fact, the word "sex" is also ambiguous. Is the law speaking of "sex roles" or "sexual acts"? Is it meant to protect "sincere religious beliefs" regarding the proper roles of men and women or proper and improper modes of consensual sexual conduct? ....

If the qualifying phrase relates solely to "employment benefits" then the scope of the law is very broad indeed, permitting gender discrimination across the board by individuals and private businesses in terms of whom they serve and whom they employ, so long as the person or business holds a "sincere religious belief" that persons of that gender are not supposed to engage in certain conduct or have certain privileges.

February 15, 2014 in Business, Religion, Same-sex marriage | Permalink | Comments (0)

Facebook's 50 Genders

From NPR, Facebook Gives Users New Options to Identify Gender.  I get moving away from a binary gender.  But 50+ genders??  It almost makes gender obsolete.  Oh....I get it.

February 15, 2014 in Business, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Gendered Impact of Payday Lending

From Amy Schmitz (Colorado), Females on the Fringe: Considering Gender in Payday Lending Policy89 Chic. Kent L. Rev. (2014).

Payday lending may provide a much-needed safety net for some consumers in need of quick cash for emergencies. However, data suggest that most payday loan borrowers become repeat users caught in a cycle of high-cost debt. Furthermore, empirical evidence indicates consistent overrepresentation of women, including many single mothers, among payday loan borrowers. This takes a toll not only on these women and their families, but also on society as a whole. Indeed, context matters in payday lending debates. It is thus time to think creatively and consider contextualized programs that aim to increase women’s and all consumers’ safe borrowing options, provide education regarding those options, and ultimately assist them in escaping cycles of debt and poverty. This Article seeks to spark the dialogue regarding such contextualized policymaking. 

February 8, 2014 in Business | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Another Settlement in Products Liability Suit of Women's Health

Merck to Pay $100 Million in NuvaRing Contraceptive Settlement.  "Merck & Co said on Friday it will pay $100 million to resolve all U.S. product liability lawsuits alleging it downplayed serious health risks involving its NuvaRing intrauterine contraceptive device."  No worries Merck.  This is much less than the $1.6 Billion Bayer paid for a similar case last year involving the pill Yaz.  And shares are up. 

February 7, 2014 in Business, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lehman Sisters

In Lehman Sisters, the authors persuasively make the case that women should not be better represented on corporate boards because they are less likely to take risks (an alleged gender-based difference), but because a diversity of views provides better management overall.

Would the crisis have happened if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters? Evidence on population gender differences in risk-aversion suggest not. Consistent with the idea that female managers need not be more risk-averse than men, we find that listed banks with more female directors did not engage in fewer risk-taking activities around the crisis and did not have lower risk than other banks. However, banks with more diverse boards had better performances, even in instrumental variable regressions. Our results suggest that more gender diversity is not necessarily associated with less risk. However, diversity may be valuable in crisis situations. 

February 6, 2014 in Business | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Corbin on Religious Exemptions for Corporations

Caroline Mala Corbin at U of Miami has uploaded Corporate Religious Liberty: Why Corporations Are Not Entitled to Religious Exemptions.  A longer version is available here.  The abstract reads:

One of the main questions before the Supreme Court in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius is whether large for-profit corporations are entitled to religious exemptions under the Free Exercise Clause or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In particular, the plaintiffs seek religious exemptions from the Affordable Care Act’s so-called “contraception mandate.”

This is an entirely novel claim. It is also without merit. The Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect the religious practices of individuals and churches. They do not, and should not, extend to the for-profit corporate form for at least three reasons. First, corporate religious liberty makes no sense as free exercise is understood to (a) protect an individual’s relationship with the divine and (b) respect the inherent dignity of the individual. Furthermore, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission provides no theoretical foundation for corporate religious liberty: The justifications for extending free speech protection to for-profit corporations do not translate into the free exercise context. Second, there is no precedent for the claim that for-profit corporations are entitled to religious liberty exemptions; on the contrary, precedent points in the other direction. Third, recognizing corporate religious liberty will benefit employers at the expense of their employees, who risk losing protection of the employment laws as well as their own free exercise rights.

February 3, 2014 in Abortion, Business, Religion, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Williams on Playing the Femininity Card at Work

Joan Williams (Hastings) previews her new book, What Works for Women at Work in the Washington Post.

I'm always a big fan of Williams' work.  But I'm not thrilled with what she finds here.  Frankly, it's a pretty depressing view of the work world.  She finds that women still have to play the femininity card in order to be successful in the work place.  Her research suggest that women need to soft sell their ideas and leadership in a "feminine" nurturing kind of gentle way rather than be critical or assertive.   Or in another post, the suggestion is that women need to strike a power pose like Beyonce or Wonder Woman (seriously ? with or withou bustier?).  When can women just be normal?  That would be a revolution. 

January 28, 2014 in Books, Business, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (1)