Tuesday, May 5, 2015
3. Ms. Mosby has to overcome doubters who may be skeptical of her experience.
Several residents interviewed in West Baltimore recently said they knew little about Ms. Mosby and even Ms. Mosby’s strongest supporters acknowledge that she faces doubts from some city residents. Before an election victory last year that surprised many, Ms. Mosby had spent three years as field counsel at Liberty Mutual Insurance, reviewing and defending against suspicious claims. Before that, she was an assistant state’s attorney for five years. “I’ve seen this repeatedly where she’s sort of underestimated because of her age, or they think she doesn’t have enough experience,” said Kweisi Mfume, a former Maryland congressman and past head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Ms. Mosby passed the bar in 2006 after graduating from Boston College Law School.
One reason Ms. Simon and Ms. Geller don’t feel they have to sneak out of the office is that there are no offices. The firm shuns a permanent home in favor of a shared work space managed by a company called Metro Offices, where it rents a conference room for an hour, an office for a day, as needed. Ms. Geller typically appears there once a week; Ms. Simon two or three times.
They did this partly to encourage their employees to work from home and on their own schedules. “My old firm would drive me bonkers,” Ms. Geller said. “If I have a slow week, why can’t I take a day, run errands? You’d better believe, when something urgent comes in, I’m going to work an all-nighter.” Four of the six employees have young children, and two set aside standing blocks of time to spend with them each week.
The other advantage is to hold down expenses, of course, which allows the Geller Law Group to maintain reasonable profit margins while charging less than competitors with higher overhead. (Ms. Simon and Ms. Geller, who bill themselves out at $280 an hour, conducted market research. Ms. Simon was determined to stay under $300 for the same psychological reason that “real estate agents price things at $999,000.”) To keep track of one another, the lawyers and a paralegal meticulously update their shared Google calendars and communicate constantly through Gchat.
Ms. Simon delights in the guerrilla-style logistics of a mostly virtual firm. She says clients generally don’t know that the firm doesn’t have its own space, though she tells them if they ask. If clients call the firm’s main number, they are greeted by an automated switchboard.
Monday, May 4, 2015
“Super Sad True Love Story,” Gary Shteyngart’s novel set in a social-media dystopia, each person is publicly assigned a “fuckability” score, determined by various algorithms. Lulu, an app founded in 2013, is the closest anyone has come, so far, to making Shteyngart’s vision come true. “We look up everything these days,” Alexandra Chong, Lulu’s founder, said recently. “Before we go out for a drink, we look up bars. Why should we not also have references when it comes to the most important thing?” Chong calls her startup “a community where women can talk honestly about what matters to them.” Others have called it Yelp for men.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is considering adding the gender neutral honorific ‘Mx’, to be included alongside Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss, to represent transgender people and those who do not wish to identify their gender, for the first time.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Jonathan Dent, assistant editor on the OED, said the title is the first new honorific to be accepted as an addition to the current set of gender identifiers.
He said it is an example of how the English language adapts to people’s needs, “with people using language in ways that suit them rather than letting language dictate identity to them”.
From the WSJ:
Men and women have different experiences when it comes to Wall Street careers. And those differences fascinate Lily Fang.
Dr. Fang, an associate professor of finance on the Singapore campus of the business school Insead, has spent the past five years or so delving into how gender affects the career-development paths of stock-research analysts on Wall Street. What she and co-author Sterling Huang of Singapore Management University found was that the networking and personal connections that male analysts rely on so heavily to get ahead are much less useful for women in similar jobs.
Friday, May 1, 2015
Male students accused by their colleges of sexual assault are increasingly turning to gender discrimination and bias lawsuits to fight for exoneration, with many of them citing their colleges' obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 -- the same civil rights law meant to protect victims of sexual violence.
Consider the statistics. If you become a father to twins — one girl, one boy — current data proves that your son will die younger, leave school with fewer qualifications and be less eligible for work than your daughter.
Across the Russell Group of Britain’s leading 20 universities, just three have a majority of male students.
This means your son will be more likely to join the ranks of the unemployed, the majority of whom are now — yes, you’ve guessed it — men.
The Office of National Statistics noted that in the summer of 2014 a total of 1,147,511 British men were out of work, compared with 887,892 women.
Psychologically, your son will be more likely to suffer from depression and attempt suicide than his sibling, but there’ll be less support in place to save him.
He’s also more likely to endure everyday violence than women, with the latest crime statistics for England and Wales noting that two-thirds of homicide victims were men.
If he’s seduced by his female teacher, she’ll leave court with a slapped wrist thanks to a legal system which is frequently lenient with women. But if your daughter has an affair with her male maths teacher he’ll be chalking up numbers on a prison wall before you can say: ‘burn your bra’.
By the time your son is 18, he will probably have absorbed the social message that his dad is much less valuable as a parent than his mother — that fathers in families are an added bonus, not a crucial cog.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
That's my takeaway.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously decided Mach Mining v. EEOC finding a meaningful role of judicial review in Title VII conciliation procedures.
It just strikes me as 180 degrees apart from the long line of arbitration cases in which the Court repeatedly upholds the inability for judicial inquiry into business, employment, civil rights, consumer and all other arbitration cases.
The Court's answer is likely that the federal statutes are different.
And that one is administrative action which is usually reviewable, and one is business action which is not.
And that it is recognizing only a very limited review. But its not. It is requiring notice and an opportunity for the business to prove voluntary compliance. That's due process, right? So the Court is imposing on sex discrimination cases an obligation of fair adjudication that is completely absent in ADR business cases. And seemingly tipping the balance in favor of businesses.
In a telling moment at Tuesday’s Supreme Court arguments over same-sex marriage, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that he may have found a way to cast a vote in favor of the gay and lesbian couples in the case.
“I’m not sure it’s necessary to get into sexual orientation to resolve this case,” he said. “I mean, if Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t. And the difference is based upon their different sex. Why isn’t that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?”
That theory had gotten only slight attention in scores of lawsuits challenging bans on same-sex marriage, and it is unlikely to serve as the central rationale if a majority of the court votes to strike down such bans, an opinion likely to be written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
But it could allow Chief Justice Roberts to be part of a 6-to-3 decision, maintaining some control over the court he leads and avoiding accusations from gay rights groups that he was on the wrong side of history.
"This would be a clean, formalistic way for the court to resolve the case,” Andrew Koppelman, a law professor at Northwestern University, said in an interview. “It could just apply existing sex discrimination law.”Professor Koppelman and other scholars filed a brief urging the court to strike down the four same-sex marriage bans before it on sex-discrimination grounds. The chief justice’s musings were similar to a passage in the brief.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Brian Tashman of “Right Wing Watch” reports that on a recent episode of the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch,” conservative Rabbi Daniel Lapin claimed that the problem with effeminate liberals is that an excess of estrogen in their systems causes them to fall in love with “the masculine strength and brutality of Islam.”
Host Tony Perkins asked him why liberals “favors Islam and actually promotes it, even to their own demise,” and Rabbi Lapin responded with what he characterized as a “zinger” of an answer — there’s a “sexual dimension” in which, much like feminized hostages suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, liberals are attracted to the masculinity of the Islamic extremists.
Today gay marriage is obviously the big issue. And there a lot of articles and commentaries about it.
Here are a couple that I chose. The Most Awkward Moments during oral argument, discussed here.
From the NYT.
From the Fox News.
A commentary by Toobin in the New Yorker; he thinks the Court will decide in favor of gay marriage.
An editorial by the conservative National Review.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Sixth Circuit Holds Employees Cannot be Fired as Retaliation for Complaining to Sexually Harassing Boss
Employees who tell their bosses to stop sexually harassing them are engaging in protected activity and are protected from retaliation, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The decision upheld a $1.5 million award to four employees at New Breed Logistics in Memphis who say they were fired after complaining to the harassing warehouse supervisor. Three of the employees were women who say they were harassed and a fourth was a man who complained on their behalf.
The company had argued it shouldn’t be liable because there was no evidence that company higher-ups were aware of the supervisor’s conduct.
Ruthann Robson at Con Law Blog has given us an encyclopedic summary of all of the amicus briefs filed in the same-sex marriage being argued today in the U.S. Supreme Court. Well worth reading.
The United States Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on April 28 in the same-sex marriage cases, now styled as Obergefell v. Hodges, a consolidated appeal from the Sixth Circuit’s decision in DeBoer v. Snyder, reversing the district court decisions in Kentucky,Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee that had held the same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional, andcreating a circuit split.
Recall that the Court certified two questions:
1)Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
The case has attracted what seems to be a record number of amicus briefs. As we discussed last year, the then-top amicus brief attractors were the same-sex marriage cases of Windsor and Perry, which garnered 96 and 80 amicus briefs respectively, and the 2013 affirmative action case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which attracted 92.
The count for Obergefell v. Hodges stands at 147.
The U.S. Supreme Court hears legal arguments next week in the legal battle over same-sex marriage. It's an extraordinarily high-stakes clash, but the men and women at the center of it see themselves as incredibly ordinary. The 12 couples and two widowers include doctors, lawyers, an Army sergeant, nurses and teachers.
Most have children and lead the typically harried lives of working parents. They say they didn't set out to be pioneers. They consider themselves "accidental activists," meaning they filed lawsuits not to further a cause but because of the way the bans affected their lives.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Earlier this month, a 21-year-old marine was sentenced to one year and six months in prison for sexually abusing at least four of his male subordinates over the course of 20 occasions in 2013, including forcing them to perform oral sex on him.
However, when prosecutors in Gwangju indicted him on sexual abuse charges, they could not apply the nation’s rape laws ― as the law only acknowledges rape when the “female sex organ has been penetrated by the male sex organ.”
This means same-sex rape cannot be legally acknowledged in Korea. The laws also don’t recognize any other forms of sexual penetration ― such as forced anal or oral sex, or inserting of a foreign object into the body ― as rape, regardless of the gender of the victim.
(Pope Francis meets with Malta’s President, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca during a private audience in September Gabriel Bouys / AP)
That Malta--the small archipelago in the Mediterranean--should pass the world's most progressive gender identity law is surprising. Malta's constitution states that its official religion is Catholicism, and until 2011, it forbade divorce.
The Mediterranean country of Malta adopted the world’s most progressive gender identity law on Wednesday in a final vote by the country’s parliament on Wednesday.
The law is the latest in a series of LGBT rights laws ushered in by the Labour Party after taking power in 2013, a dramatic about-face for the country which has a constitution establishing Catholicism as the official religion.
The law — which goes beyond those its fellow European Union members have passed — would allow for someone to change their legal gender through simply filing an affidavit with a notary without a significant waiting period, eliminates any requirement for medical gender reassignment procedures, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. It now heads to the desk of President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, and LGBT rights advocates expect her to sign.
It also includes some groundbreaking provisions for minors and intersex babies, those born without clearly male or female anatomy. Medical experts estimate that around .1 - .2 percent of children are born with atypical genitals that cannot be classified as either male or female, and in much of the world doctors operate on these children to make their anatomy clearly male or female.
There are some obvious reasons not to be sympathetic to Bruce Jenner's coming out: for one, he lives with the Kardashians; for another, the coming out looks like a publicity ploy by an aging celebrity who had milked everything once of fame for his achievements in an obscure sport called the decathlon.
But then there was the response by his family, which was admirable:
“I am at peace with what he is and what he’s doing,” his mother, Esther Jenner, said in a separately filmed portion of the two-hour segment. “I never thought I could be more proud of Bruce when he reached his goal in 1976, but I’m more proud of him now.” Kim Kardashian tweeted, “Love is the courage to live the truest, best version of yourself. Bruce is love. I love you Bruce. #ProudDaughter.” (Jenner told Sawyer that he first came out to Kim, and that she once walked in on him in a dress.)
Seventeen-year-old Kylie Jenner, Jenner’s youngest child, tweeted, “Understandingly, this has been very hard for me. You will hear what I have to say when I’m ready to but this isn’t about me. I’m so proud of you, Dad. You are so brave. My beautiful Hero.” In this unconditional and unquestioning way, the Kardashian and Jenner clans are defining what it means to be a family today. They may be superficial, but their support for Bruce is notable for its candid demonstration of acceptance.
A male student accused of raping his classmate has sued Columbia University for failing to protect him against backlash and harassment.
Authorities rejected Emma Sulkowicz's case that Paul Nungesser, a German citizen, was a 'serial rapist' who assaulted her after class.
Nonetheless, the case gathered international attention as Sulkowicz, a senior majoring in visual arts, publicly paraded her mattress in protest, calling for his indictment.
And according to Nungesser's lawsuit citing 'gender-based harassment and defamation', Columbia presented the allegations as fact on a university-owned website.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
My colleagues and I have been discussing this issue. In the family law context, there is a rise of law firms that represent only male parties, often due to an affiliation with the father's rights movement.
We didn't come up with any answers, just flagged some of the questions:
Does the civil rights law apply? Are law firms "public accommodations" under the Civil Rights Act? They are defined as public accommodations under the ADA - any relevance? Is the licensing of lawyers sufficient state action? Maybe the commerce clause?
Don't lawyers have the right to choose their own clients? A First Amendment right of association? Or what about a religious right under Hobby Lobby?
What about ethical rules for lawyers against discrimination?
Here is an older law review article on the topic: Samuel Stonefield, Lawyer Discrimination Against Clients (1998)
But here’s the dot that few have connected: The retirement savings crisis is also a women’s crisis.
That’s because women retire with two-thirds the savings of men, live six to eight years longer and have higher medical costs. Plus, 80 percent of women are single in their final years.
And it may be getting worse: Women’s labor-force participation is dropping, which suggests we’re moving in the wrong direction, considering that retirement savings tend to be driven by lifetime wages.
By looking at this issue through the gender lens, the solutions take on a decidedly different character. They become less about an inevitable, looming wealth transfer and more about increasing the economic engagement of women. And thus the focus of the national discussions about advancing women in the workplace, the focus moves from we-should-do-this-because-it’s-the-fair-thing-to-do to we-should-do-this-because-it-helps-solve-a-ridiculously-large-problem.