Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Another Pregnancy Discrimination Suit Against Bloomberg

Former Bloomberg TV Correspondent Sues for Discrimination

Former Bloomberg TV correspondent Megan Hughes Hemmerlein has filed a suit against Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Media C.E.O. Justin Smith, alleging that the company discriminated against her after she became pregnant, National Law Journal's Zoe Tillman reports.

 

Tillman has also published a copy of the civil complaint against Bloomberg.

 

Hemmerlein worked at Bloomberg TV's Washington, D.C. bureau from 2012 until being laid off in August 2014.

 

According to the complaint, Hemmerlein told her boss in December 2013 that she was pregnant and expected to give birth in August 2014. After learning that Hemmerlein was pregnant, the complaint states, Bloomberg TV began giving more on-air work to a younger junior producer, who is not married and has no children.

Similar claims against the company were thrown out in 2011 Discrimination Suit Against Bloomberg LP is Dismissed

And other similar claims dismissed in 2013. Judge Tosses Most Plaintiffs in Discrimination Suit Against Bloomberg LP   

Mayor Bloomberg's financial news company notched a major legal win Monday against female employees who accused it of pregnancy-related discrimination.

 

Five of six plaintiffs named in the Bloomberg, L.P. lawsuit had their claims tossed out.

 

The women, current and former employees who first sued the company in 2007, said their careers were sidetracked when they were after they asked for maternity leave.

 

But Manhattan Federal Court Judge Loretta Preska found insufficient evidence that they were victims of bias.

 

In one instance, Preska determined that an action taken by Bloomberg L.P. affected male employees as well.

 

The judge also nixed claims brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of 29 additional, unnamed women.

February 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reviewing the new book "The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg"

Barbara Babcock, Book Review: Law Professor, Feminist, and Jurist Extraordinaire

Scott Dodson, editor, The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,Cambridge University Press, 2015 (336 pp., cloth, $29.99)

 

Scott Dodson, the editor of this volume, has brought together an impressive group of law professors, lawyers, historians, and journalists to write about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy. There are sixteen essays, each devoted to different periods of her life and work, with very little overlap in the coverage, and no real conflict of interpretation. In addition to Dodson’s own essay, the book includes contributions by, among others, Thomas Goldstein,Lani GuinierRobert KatzmannHerma Hill KayLinda Kerber,Dahlia LithwickNeil and Reva SiegelNina Totenberg, and Joan Williams.

 

February 28, 2015 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Senate Bill to Address Campus Sexual Assault

Senate's Revamped Sexual Assault Bill Puts More Pressure on Colleges

A bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday that is aimed at curbing sexual violence on campuses in ways that protect both victims and accused students. The changes reflect heightened attention over the past six months to the due-process rights of accused students.

 

The Campus Safety and Accountability Act, sponsored by six Democrats and six Republicans, builds on legislation that was introduced over the summer but never came to a vote. The new version was strengthened with additional input from sexual-assault survivors, students, colleges, law enforcement, and advocacy groups, according to one of its main sponsors, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. A companion bill is expected to be introduced soon in the House of Representatives.

 

The revised proposal comes at a time when the Department of Education is investigating nearly 100 colleges and universities for possible violations of the federal civil-rights law known as Title IX. Colleges have increasingly been held responsible under that law to investigate and resolve alleged assaults promptly and fairly, whether or not the police are involved.

 

February 28, 2015 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Unlike America, in South Korea, Adultery Is No Longer Illegal

The South Korean Constitutional Court recently held that prohibitions against adultery were unconstitutional. From the NYT:

South Korea’s Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down a 62-year-old law that made adultery an offense punishable by up to two years in prison, citing the country’s changing sexual mores and a growing emphasis on individual rights.

By contrast, the U.S. Supreme Court has so far refused to make an analogous statement.  Check out the Mother Jones article (a bit outdated, though) . 

 

February 27, 2015 in Family, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Case Against Conversion Therapy for LGBT Youth

A counter to the perspective expressed in the previous post, there's the HRC case against conversion therapy:

Research shows that young people experience conversion therapy as a form of family rejection, and LGBT youth who experience family rejection face increased health risks. In one study, such youth were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, and 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs compared with peers who had not experienced such rejection. On the other hand, family acceptance has been shown to be an important protective factor that can help to prevent suicide behavior and mental health issues. Providers who engage in conversion therapy under the veneer of state license can mislead families about the risks involved, leading to negative psychological outcomes and irreparable damage to family cohesiveness. This legislation is needed to protect families from these damaging practices.

 

 

February 27, 2015 in Family, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oklahoma Supports Conversion Therapy for LGBT Youth

From Oklahoma: 

OKLAHOMA CITY — A bill guaranteeing the right of parents to seek therapy for “same-sex attraction” for their minor children cleared the Oklahoma House of Representatives Committee on Children, Youth and Family Services on Tuesday.

House Bill 1598 author Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, turned aside a question about whether such therapies might “push” young people toward self-destructive behavior.

“In our schools, in our movies, the kids are being pushed in the direction that they’re born homosexual and they can’t change,” Kern said. “This bill will allow children who are struggling with these feelings … to go and have some counseling to get both sides of the issue to find out why they’re struggling with this.”

Kern agreed that nothing currently in state law prevents parents from sending their children to such counseling, but she said HB 1598 is a “pre-emptive” measure against legislation banning so-called “conversion therapy.”

February 27, 2015 in Family, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Conundrum of Male Support for Feminism

From the Guardian UK:

Indeed, there can be a perverse irony involved in men speaking out in support of women. As the US sociologist Kris Macomber has put it, men are “members of the dominant group; they have access to social and institutional power that women lack”. In other words, their support for feminism is useful for the very thing feminism is struggling against – their power. Feminists have often expressed their frustration to me that men are applauded for saying what women have said for generations.

And: 

And then there are the men who elect themselves “feminists” as a way of granting themselves a certain type of coolness, or making themselves more attractive to women: “Look how sensitive and caring I am – I’m even a feminist!” Sexism is rife on the left – as it is everywhere in society – but the danger is that leftwing men may decide they cannot possibly be sexist, even as they interrupt a woman to assert their feminism. One leftwing feminist tells me she can work out a man’s attitude to women in five minutes: “Do they interrupt you? Do they listen to you? Do they presume they know more than you?”

So: 

So what is the role of men in all this? 

 

February 27, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Challenging Coed Fraternities

NYT, Fraternity Sues Wesleyan University Over Order to Admit Women

Almost five months after fraternities at Wesleyan University in Connecticut wereordered to admit women as both members and residents, one organization announced on Thursday that it was suing the university, saying the policy put in place in the name of equality was, in fact, discriminatory.

 

The fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, along with its alumni organization, Kent Literary Club, filed the lawsuit seeking a temporary injunction in Superior Court in Middletown.

 

While there are only two fraternities on campus, with about 50 members, the order by the university — which has long had a reputation as one of the nation’s most liberal institutions of higher learning — came as many schools were struggling with issues related to heavy drinking, dangerous behavior and sexual assault at fraternities and sororities.

 

February 26, 2015 in Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Silicon Valley Gender Discrimination Trial

USA Today, Ellen Pao Lawyer: Kleiner Perkins "Not a Level Playing Field"

A much-anticipated Silicon Valley gender discrimination trial began Tuesday with both sides going into opening arguments swinging.

 

The case involves Ellen Pao, a former partner at Silicon Valley's premier venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

 

Pao is seeking $16 million in back pay and future wage losses after, she says, she was dismissed from her position in October 2012. Kleiner Perkins says she was advised to leave based on her performance.

Pao became the CEO of Reddit, a popular microblogging site, in November. The trial comes during a time of raised public discourse around Silicon Valley's insular culture, which is overwhelmingly made up of white and Asian men. Women, African Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented.

February 26, 2015 in Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Different Hillary Clinton This Time

As she prepares for her presidential bid, Hillary Clinton intends to serve up a different campaign message than last time:

But rather than the assertive feminism associated with her years as first lady, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign message will be subtler. It will involve frequent references to being a mother and grandmother and to how her family has inspired her to embrace policies that she believes would help middle-class families.

As one Democrat close to her put it, voters have learned that she is tough; now she can also present herself as a sensitive candidate capable of nurturing the nation at a difficult time.

 

 

February 25, 2015 in Masculinities, Theory, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Frozen" Threatens Manliness--Yikes

Frozen 

 

Humorous but telling satire from the Chicago Tribune:

I haven't been feeling my usual manly self lately. I keep messing things up in a clumsily absurd fashion and feel an overwhelming desire to spend time with a large and inordinately expressive reindeer.

I wasn’t sure what brought on this emasculating malaise until my friends at the Fox News show “Fox and Friends” explained that I and men across America are suffering from “the Frozen effect.”

Yikes. I don’t want to be either of those things.

 

February 25, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Black Feminist Critique of Arquette's Oscar Speech

From Salon:

 Black women have a long history of advocating for fair wages and access to decent employment opportunities for African-American communities. In her recent remarks at the Academy Awards championing the fight against wage inequality, Patricia Arquette seemed wholly unaware of these histories, elaborating backstage that it was now time for all other groups to fight for white women, because they had fought for everybody else.

And: 

In 1920 or thereabouts, famed Washington, D.C., educator Nannie Helen Burroughs helped to found the National Association of Wage Earners as both an advocacy group and a training resource for working class black women. Addressing employment inequality and wage inequality for newly freed black women entering the workforce after Emancipation, and later for black women from the South who had migrated North, was a hallmark of black women’s organizing in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Fannie Barrier Williams, a socialite, club woman and budding political theorist told the crowd, “in the item of employment, colored women bear a distressing burden of mean and unreasonable discrimination.” Still, she told them, “we believe this country is large enough and the opportunities for all kinds of success are great enough to afford our women a fair chance to earn a respectable living.” In 1925, Gertrude Elise McDougald, an organizer and teacher in New York City, helped to found the Trade Union Committee for Organizing Negro Workers, in order to encourage African-American solidarity with labor and discourage strike-breaking as the pathway to work.

February 25, 2015 in Race, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

At Oscars, Patricia Arquette Calls for Gender Equality

What She Said: Patricia Arquette Calls for Wage, Gender Equality in Show-Stealing Oscar Speech (including a reference to Justice Scalia's view that the Constitution does not protect against sex discrimination).

The Criticism: 

    What Patricia Arquette Got Right (and Wrong) About Equal Pay

    Patricia Arquette's Feminism: Only for White Women

February 24, 2015 in Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Supreme Court's Decision Defining "Supervisor" has Detrimental Impact on Sexual Harassment Plaintiffs

43 Sexual Harassment Cases That Were Thrown Out Because of One Supreme Court Decision

Before June of 2013, a court may have very well found that Lopez was her supervisor. But that’s not how her case went. Thanks to a Supreme Court decision in the Vance v. Ball State University case, the judge presiding over Mary McCormack, et al v. Safeway Stores Incorporated decided that Lopez wasn’t her supervisor. TheVance decision significantly narrowed the definition of supervisor when it comes to harassment cases, limiting it to someone who has the power to hire, fire, promote, or otherwise tangibly impact a report’s employment.

 

Advocates for the victims of sexual harassment feared that the Vance decision would make it more difficult to get justice. Their fears have played out. According to an analysis from the National Women’s Law Center conducted for ThinkProgress, 43 sexual harassment cases have been dismissed because a supervisor didn’t meet Vance’s restricted definitions, and the victim couldn’t prove that the employer was negligent in coworker harassment. (Vance also applies to harassment on other grounds, but the analysis is limited to sexual harassment cases in federal courts.)

February 24, 2015 in Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Drafting Pleadings for a Public Audience

NYT, Lawsuits' Lurid Details Draw an Online Crowd

Intimate, often painful allegations in lawsuits — intended for the scrutiny of judges and juries — are increasingly drawing in mass online audiences far from the courthouses where they are filed.

 

When a former saleswoman at Zillow sued the real estate website in December, describing X-rated messages from male colleagues, her court filing drew hundreds of thousands of readers, causing an instant public relations crisis for the company.

 

The papers in a sexual harassment suit filed last summer against Tinder, the dating app, circulated in a popular Buzzfeed post. And a lawyer for a fired University of Minnesota-Duluth women’s hockey coach who is planning a lawsuit knows what the initial complaint will need: a clear narrative and damning details.

 

More and more, the first court filings in gender-related suits, often allegations that inspire indignation, are winning wide readerships online before anyone steps foot in a courtroom.

 

As a result, plaintiffs are finding themselves with unexpected support — and greater-than-ever power to ruin reputations. Panicky defendants are left trying to clear their names from accusations that sometimes are unsubstantiated. Judges and law professors, watching the explosion of documents online, fear such broad exposure is throwing court proceedings off track and changing the nature of how civil suits are meant to unfold.

February 24, 2015 in Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Girl, 11, demands DC Comics to feature more female superheroes – so they draw her as one"

Cute story from the Independent UK:

View image on Twitter

 

“Please do something about this, girls read comics too and they care,” the 11-year-old from Champaign, Illinois, added according to NBC’s Today show.

A DC Comics artist drew Rowan as a superhero complete with her blonde bob hairstyle and spectacles with a burgundy and yellow outfit to help her fly over a dandelion field.

Previously, they sent out tweets saying that they’re “working hard to create more superhero fun for girls” but she had said that, even though she appreciated the responses, her quest to see more girl characters was not over.

“It was really, really cool, because they’re so big and important people,” she said of the tweets.

“But I thought ‘I don’t want people to think, “Oh, yeah, OK, they responded to her. Now it’s over.” I want people to keep trying to make this happen, because it’s really important to me.”

Her parents Jim Hansen and Renee Trilling said that Rowan has been aware of gender inequality for years.

View image on Twitter

February 23, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Glendale, Arizona--No Protection for LGBT Rights

 From the HRC Blog: 

It is startling to think that in Glendale, Arizona a person can be evicted from their home or fired from their job simply because of whom they love or their gender identity. In Glendale, LGBT citizens still lack basic legal protections at work, at home and in public spaces.

And: 

The Glendale City Council started the process of protecting LGBT residents with a non-discrimination ordinance, however the process has stalled.

The momentum continues to build among Glendale residents- LGBT and allies alike. Supporters are anxious to ensure that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity not be tolerated. 

Last week, HRC hosted a phone bank to encourage Glendale residents to call the Mayor and City Council to get the ordinance back on track. Conversations with residents reinforced the need to move this ordinance forward and make sure that all Glendale citizens are equally treated under the law.

 

February 23, 2015 in LGBT, Same-sex marriage | Permalink | Comments (0)

Equal Pay Bill in Massachusetts

From the Boston Globe:

The woman said she was about to hang up after a telephone interview when she realized the hiring managers on the other end had forgotten to disconnect the call. So the woman, who asked not to be identified because it could hurt her employment prospects, kept listening — and what she heard shocked her.

Her most recent salary was lower than the interviewers expected, which they assumed signaled a problem with her work. They didn’t offer her the job.

And: 

A bill recently filed in the Massachusetts Legislature aims to address situations like this by prohibiting employers from seeking job candidates’ salary histories. The bill also would require companies to disclose an advertised position’s minimum pay and permit employees to discuss their salaries openly.

These practices would help reduce the gender wage gap by addressing the problem at the beginning, before a single job candidate is interviewed, the bill’s sponsors say. Because women’s earnings are historically lower than men’s, revealing their salaries puts them at a disadvantage.

It allows employers, when hiring, to offer lower salaries than they might otherwise or, as the example of the woman shows, draw unfair conclusions about women candidates.

 

February 23, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Wearing Slacks as Contempt of Court

LA Times, In 1938, LA Woman Went to Jail for Wearing Slacks in Courtroom

Kindergarten teacher Helen Hulick made Los Angeles court history — and struck a blow for women's fashion — in 1938.

 

Hulick arrived in downtown L.A. court to testify against two burglary suspects. But the courtroom drama immediately shifted to the slacks she was wearing. Judge Arthur S. Guerin rescheduled her testimony and ordered her to wear a dress next time 
 

 

She returned to court five days later — in slacks — infuriating the judge. The Times reported:

 

In a scathing denunciation of slacks — which he prosaically termed pants — as courtroom attire for women, Guerin yesterday again forbade Helen Hulick, 28, kindergarten teacher, to testify as a witness while dressed in a green and orange leisure attire.

 

 

"Today you come back dressed in pants and openly defying the court and its duties to conduct judicial proceedings in an orderly manner. It's time a decision was reached on this matter and on the power the court has to maintain what it considers orderly conduct.

 

"The court hereby orders and directs you to return tomorrow in accepted dress. If you insist on wearing slacks again you will be prevented from testifying because that would hinder the administration of justice. But be prepared to be punished according to law for contempt of court."

 

Slack-shrouded Miss Hulick was accompanied by Attorney William Katz, who carried four heavy volumes of citations relative to his client's right to appear in court in whatever dress she chose.

 

"Listen," said the young woman, "I've worn slacks since I was 15. I don't own a dress except a formal. If he wants me to appear in a formal gown that's okay with me.

 

"I'll come back in slacks and if he puts me in jail I hope it will help to free women forever of anti-slackism."

 

The next day, Hulick showed up in slacks. Judge Guerin held her in contempt. She was given a five-day sentence and sent to jail.

February 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fangirling Justice Ginsburg

Gail Collins, NYT, The Unsinkable RBG

Over the past few years, she’s been getting unprecedented public nagging about retirement while simultaneously developing a massive popular fan base. You can buy T-shirts and coffee mugs with her picture on them. You can dress your baby up like Ruth Bader Ginsburg for Halloween. A blog called Notorious R.B.G. posts everything cool about the justice’s life, from celebrity meet-ups (“Sheryl Crow is a Ruth Bader Ginsburg fangirl”) to Twitter-size legal theory (“Justice Ginsburg Explains Everything You Need to Know About Religious Liberty in Two Sentences”). You can even get an R.B.G. portrait tattooed on your arm, should the inclination ever arise.

February 21, 2015 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)