Saturday, November 22, 2014
John Goldberg (Harvard), Jotwell, When is Sexual Abuse Within the Scope of Employment?, reviewing Martha Chamallas (Ohio State), Vicarious Liability in Torts: The Sex Exception, 48 Val. U. L. Rev. 133 (2013), available at SSRN.
Martha Chamallas’s Monsanto Lecture, Vicarious Liability in Torts: The Sex Exception, is timely and important, inviting renewed scholarly attention to the oft-neglected topic of vicarious liability.
Since the 1990s, courts have faced a steady stream of suits brought against schools, hospitals, religious institutions, and other entities for sexual abuse committed by employees. In addressing these suits, Chamallas argues, courts have adopted an unjustifiably narrow approach to vicarious liability.
Modern doctrine maintains that an employee’s on-the-job wrong will be imputed to her employer when the wrong is foreseeable, or involves the realization of risks characteristic of the employer’s enterprise. Under these tests, vicarious liability has at times extended to employees’ intentional acts of physical violence, as well as to negligence perpetrated by drunken, off-duty employees.
It is thus surprising, Chamallas argues, to find prominent cases in which courts decline to impose vicarious liability for sexual abuse. For example, the California Supreme Court refused to hold a hospital liable for its medical technician’s molestation of a young woman during the performance of an ultrasound, and also declined to hold a school district liable for a teacher’s abuse of a student during a school-sanctioned extra-curricular activity. According to Chamallas, modern legal tests for “scope of employment” are capacious enough to permit liability in cases such as these. Moreover, standard instrumental rationales for respondeat superior (“let the master answer”)—that it incentivizes appropriate precaution-taking by employers, better ensures compensation of victims, and fairly comports with the risks characteristic of the employer’s enterprise—arguably also favor liability. So why would courts decline to hold employers liable under the circumstances?
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
The diverse and robust pool of female founders and tech execs at Fortune’s 40 under 40 party proves positive for Silicon Valley’s future. Editing Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list is, every year, an education in ambition, disruption and extraordinary achievement. The process takes months of reporting, lots of debate and discussion and a healthy amount of handwringing as our deadline looms.
And then comes the fun. Every year, we hold a giant party for the 40 Under 40 and a few hundred other movers and shakers in the San Francisco area. This is always my favorite part of the process. Because our listers? They show up. This year, we had a record number join us, traveling from as far as India (Rahul Sharma, CEO of Micromax) and as close as upstairs (Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, which hosted us in the lobby of the company’s headquarters in San Francisco’s SoMa district).
There were lots of local, Bay Area-based names, including Lyndon Rive, cofounder of SolarCity SCTY 3.82% , Josh Tetrick of plant-based food engineer Hampton Creek, Tristan Walker of Walker & Co/Bevel, Kabam’s Kevin Chou, Mason Morfit, president of ValueAct Capital (and youngest person on Microsoft’s board MSFT 1.26% ). Many more traveled to be there: SBE Entertainment Group’s Sam Nazarian, from Las Vegas; Nate Morris of waste-management disruptor Rubicon Global, in from Kentucky; Anthony Watson, CIO of Nike NKE 0.88% , who flew in from Beaverton, Ore; and President Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, who was able to break away from his boss for a quick trip west. There was, of course, a healthy crew from New York, including VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk, NYSE president Tom Farley, Highbridge Principal Strategies’ Mike Patterson and Blackstone’s Peter Wallace.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
National Law J., Survey: Profession Still Struggling for Equal Opportunity
Legal careers have changed greatly since 2000 but the profession is still struggling to establish race and gender equality, according to a joint survey released by the American Bar Foundation and the National Association for Law Placement.
But “After the JD III: Third Results of a National Study of Legal Careers” also indicates that most lawyers remain moderately or extremely satisfied with their choice to pursue law. They represent 76 percent of respondents in surveys conducted in 2012, 2007 and 2003.
“You might think after the recession that people would dial back on that answer, but it’s pretty much the same,” American Bar Foundation director Robert Nelson said of the satisfaction number.
The so-called “Wave 3” survey, released Thursday, was based on 2012 interviews of 2,862 lawyers who passed the bar in 2000. That’s a 53 percent response rate for the 5,353 surveys sent to a pool of lawyers who had responded to either or both of the earlier surveys. The three surveys comprise a long-term study of a nationally representative group of lawyers at different stages in their careers.
The surveys collectively show striking gender differences in lawyers’ earning power. According to the latest survey, the income gap between men and women was 5 percent after two or three of practice, 15 percent after seven years and 20 percent after a dozen years of practice.
Most of that gap occurs in the private sector. Women in public sector jobs earned 96 percent to 98 percent of what men did in comparable jobs.
“It’s certainly nothing new [but] it’s profound that we have not made much progress on that front in the legal profession,” Nelson said.
Women, along with racial and ethnic minorities, are more likely to experience social isolation and firms can do more to integrate them into the fabric of the enterprise, he said. Women and minorities also are less likely to inherit a book of business from a senior partner than is the case for white males. “That seems to be the critical dynamic,” Nelson said.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
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.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
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.And while caregiving responsibilities – the stereotypical view for why women leave demanding professions – played a role in some decisions, for the most part Fouad found that what really pushed women out were uncivil workplace climates, the expectation to put in long hours of face time in the office, and the perception that there was little opportunity to advance.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
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.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
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.
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.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Some highlights on yesterday's Hobby Lobby case:
- SCOTUS Gets Hobby Lobby Horribly Wrong
- Several posts on Reproductive Rights Blog
- What Nuva Rings and Peyote Have in Common Today
- Why Today's Hobby Lobby Ruling Actually Hurts People of Faith
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
Monday, June 30, 2014
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.
7. Travel back in time a century. You won't even notice the difference.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
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.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
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
Thursday, May 22, 2014
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.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
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.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Finding more help in "What Works for Women at Work" than in "Lean In."
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
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Saturday, February 15, 2014
From my colleague, Will Huhn, Associate Director of the Constsitutional Law Center at Akron, one of four national centers established by Congress.
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.
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.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
From Amy Schmitz (Colorado), Females on the Fringe: Considering Gender in Payday Lending Policy, 89 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.
Friday, February 7, 2014
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.