Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Today, Chicago-Kent held its 32nd annual Kenneth M. Piper Lecture, always a great event. I can't find a link to the video yet, but when I do I'll post it.
Joan Williams (UC Hastings/Worklife Law Center) spoke on Family Responsibilities Discrimination in the Great Recession: Impact of EEOC Guidelines. Commenting were Deidra Byrd (Walgreens) and Stephen Moldof (Cohen, Weiss & Simon LLP). It was a great discussion, focusing in large part on the trends detailed in the Worklife Law Center's report of earlier this year.
One of the most interesting things, from my perspective, on family responsibilities discrimination litigation is the very varied forms the litigation takes. While over sixty municipalities and several states prohibit this kind of discrimination explicitly, the majority of jurisdictions don't have this carved out in their antidiscrimination statutes. So some cases are brought under Title VII, particularly the Pregnancy Discrimination Act provision, but others are brought under the EPA, ADA, ERISA, and various state tort causes of action, to name a few. The success rate for these cases is relatively high: about 50%, in large part because penalizing people for taking care of others rubs most judges and juries the wrong way. It's an interesting case study on how activists and ordinary people, both employees and management, begin to shape the law and workplace norms in new ways.