Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Clearing the Fog: The Importance of Pay Transparency in Remedying Wage Discrimination

Nunn  Michael 24-BLS headshot (2)By Michael Nunn, 2L at Brooklyn Law School

Historic biases against women and people of color have repeatedly been shown to contribute to long-term economic instability. Despite laws such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act’s broad retroactive remedies, pay inequality persists in American society. Significantly, our federal framework fails to fully address employees’ limited access to pay information and their limited ability to negotiate. This is troublesome considering that, to prove discrimination, the laws also place the onus of information-gathering and negotiation on employees, who typically lack the means to avoid under-compensation resulting from historical discrimination.

Usually, those subject to pay discrimination are unaware they are being paid unfairly or fear backlash. As a result, salary negotiations are statistically unfavorable to women and, in particular, people of color: for example, Black and Hispanic women in the U.S. are estimated to achieve parity with white men’s salaries only by 2133 and 2220 (respectively). Recognizing the difficulty in accessing information that shows pay discrimination, pay secrecy among employers is a common denominator in the persistence of the wage gap. Since 2016, as many as a dozen states and localities have either established pay transparency laws, with recent legislation in New York, California, Washington, Colorado, and Connecticut that demand responsibility from employers.

California’s pay transparency law, effective January 1, 2023, now requires employers to include salary ranges in all job advertisements. Additionally, large employers must now submit annual pay data reports disclosing the median and mean hourly rates within each listing by race, ethnicity, and sex. It further provides a private right of action for individuals who file a complaint within a year of learning of employer violations. These provisions make California’s one of the most demanding and progressive pay transparency laws to date.

Similarly, since November 1, 2022, New York City’s pay transparency law requires employers to disclose salary minimums and maximums for all job advertisements based on a “good faith” belief of what they would pay a successful applicant. The New York State legislature recently passed similar legislation, signed in December, and taking effect later this year.

A common motivation among jurisdictions passing such legislation is to make discrimination more identifiable for employees and employers. If given upfront access to comparative salary data as a reference, employees may identify instances of pay discrimination earlier in the hiring process. Moreover, these laws push employers to actively evaluate the validity of their pay practices, as they stand to lose out on talent if their payscales are incongruous with market-rate salaries for similar positions.

Concurrently, the European Union reached a similar conclusion as it, too, struggles to enforce equal pay laws, with a persistent gender wage gap of about 13% (compared to about 17% in the U.S.). In a 2020 report, the European Commission found a significant issue hindering access to justice is “the establishment of a prima facie case of pay discrimination,” with lack of pay transparency as the main obstacle to addressing gender inequality. In response, the Commission issued an equal pay directive in 2021 focused on increasing access to justice and pay transparency for employees. On December 15, 2022, the European Parliament and the Council on the Directive reached agreement on implementing rules.

In practice, the benefits of transparency are readily observed. In unionized workplaces, where pay transparency practices are the most common, the wage gap is significantly smaller than in nonunionized workplaces. Studies have shown that union representation reduces women’s wage gap by “nearly 40% compared to the wage gap experienced by non-union women.” This benefit is attributable to the “transparency and equality provided in union contracts,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. Such benefits had been observed in Europe, where EU member states that implemented pay transparency laws found that workforce participation and retention improved, and women’s career progression strengthened.

In a notable fashion, pay transparency laws have begun cropping up in states across the U.S. Although non-compliance concerns have invariably arisen since the pay transparency laws have gone into effect, many believe these laws will be the most effective in dispersing the fog of confidentiality that enshrouds wage discrimination.

January 31, 2023 in Race, Women's Rights, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 26, 2023

New Article: Commission on Recognition and Reconstruction for the United States: Inspirational or Illusory?

Penelope Andrews, A Commission on Recognition and Reconstruction for the United States: Inspirational or Illusory?, 66 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev 359 (2022). Abstract below.

In this article I suggest that President Joe Biden issue an executive order to establish a Commission on Recognition and Reconstruction (CRR) to comprehensively confront the ongoing challenges to racial justice. I envisage the CRR as an adjunct to, and not a replacement for, the several measures currently being undertaken in law and policy to address these challenges. I imagine the CRR providing a national focus on the many ways that public and private institutions have responded to this current moment of racial distress, while also highlighting the obstacles and omissions toward the attainment of racial justice. The proposed CRR would then establish goals to be measurable in the short-, medium-, and long-term.

January 26, 2023 in Books and articles, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Event (video): Economics Reimagined: Building a Human Rights Economy

The New School, Aspen Institute, and the OHCHR, co-sponsored an event in Washington D.C. on January 19th, 2023, focusing on a human rights economy in the U.S. Arecording of the discussion is available at the following link: Aspen Institute - Economics Reimagined a Discussion on Building a Human Rights Economy


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 75 years ago by the United Nations, set forth a set of civil, social, and economic rights that inspired the development of human rights’ laws around the world. The declaration has been a north star for those working to build an equitable and fair society for all people ever since. But over the intervening decades, our economic agenda and policymaking have often focused on economic growth and business success metrics at the expense of human well-being. This economic framework, which preferences profits over people, has contributed to skyrocketing wealth and income inequality, economic instability, social unrest, and recently the rise of new authoritarian movements. The economic rights from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, however, are reemerging as part of a call for a more moral and equitable economic order.

In this context, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and The New School’s Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy recently announced the Partnership for a Human Rights Economy. The partnership will help advance scholarship and economic policymaking toward achieving human rights. Join the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program and The New School’s Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy for “Economics Reimagined: A Discussion on Building a Human Rights Economy” on January 19 from 2:00 to 3:45 p.m. EST. Learn more about The New School’s exciting new partnership with the UN and explore the legacy and lasting influences of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the philosophies and values that have come to shape our economy and the consequences, and how we build a moral and inclusive economy based on human rights.

January 24, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 19, 2023

January - February 2023 Deadlines: Call for Inputs by UN Human Rights Mechanisms

The following calls for inputs have been issued by UN Human Rights Mechanisms with deadlines in January – February 2023 and law professors whose practice, research, and/or scholarship touches on these topics may be interested in submission:

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs regarding promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights within the context of addressing inequalities in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Deadline: January 31, 2023. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs regarding human rights and the regulation of civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms, to inform the High Commissioner’s report pursuant to Resolution 50/12. Deadline: January 31, 2023. Read more.

Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – Call for inputs regarding the impact of militarization on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Deadline: January 31, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism – Call for inputs regarding the global study on the impact of counter-terrorism measures on civil society and civic space. Deadline: February 1, 2023. Read more.

Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances - Call for inputs for a thematic study on “new technologies and enforced disappearances.” Deadline: February 3, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression – Call for inputs to the thematic report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression to the UN Human Rights Council: “Freedom of Opinion and Expression and Sustainable Development - Why Voice Matters.” Deadline: February 3, 2023.

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association – Call for inputs from the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and for his report to be presented at the 53rd session of the HRC. Deadline: February 6, 2023. Read more.

Special Procedures – Call for inputs to inform the Special Rapporteur’s report on how to expand and diversify regularization mechanisms and programs to enhance the protection of the human rights of migrants. Deadline: February 15, 2023. Read more.

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Call for inputs on persons with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies for the Day of General Discussion the Committee will hold on March 16, 17, and 20. Deadline: February 15, 2023. Read more.

International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement – Call for Inputs on Upcoming Country Visit to the United States of America by the United Nations International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the context of Law Enforcement from 24 April – 5 May 2023. Deadline February 24, 2023. Read more.

This information was compiled from https://www.ohchr.org/en/calls-for-input-listing.

January 19, 2023 in Global Human Rights, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

New Article: Foreword: Centering Intersectionality in Human Rights Discourse

Johanna Bond, Foreword: Centering Intersectionality in Human Rights Discourse, 79 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 953 (2022). Abstract below.

In the last decade, intersectionality theory has gained traction as a lens through which to analyze international human rights issues. Intersectionality theory is the notion that multiple systems of oppression intersect in peoples’ lives and are mutually constitutive, meaning that when, for example, race and gender intersect, the experience of discrimination goes beyond the formulaic addition of race discrimination and gender discrimination to produce a unique, intersectional experience of discrimination. The understanding that intersecting systems of oppression affect different groups differently is central to intersectionality theory. As such, the theory invites us to think about inter-group differences (i.e., differences between women and men) and intra-group differences (i.e., differences in the experiences of discrimination and rights violations between white women and women of color).

January 17, 2023 in Books and articles, Gender, Race, Women's Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Event 1/27: Temple's Inaugural Professor Henry J. Richardson III Lecture on Racial Justice by Gay McDougall

On January 27, 2023, from 3:00PM to 6:00PM EST, join Temple University Beasley School of Law’s Institute for International Law and Public Policy, the Blacks of the American Society of International Law, the Temple Law School Black Law Students’ Association, the Temple Law International Law Society, and the Temple International and Comparative Law Journal for the Inaugural Professor Henry J. Richardson III Lecture, presented in honor of the life work of Professor Henry J. Richardson III, who has for decades pursued racial justice in international law in his scholarship, teaching, and mentorship.

The speaker will be Professor Gay McDougall, a globally acclaimed expert on international human rights law who currently serves as an independent expert on the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  In December 2022, Professor McDougall was the first recipient of the AALS International Human Rights Section's Nelson Mandela Award

The event will feature brief opening remarks, including remarks by Professor Richardson, a lecture by Professor McDougall followed by a question-and-answer session, and a reception. This event will take place in person at Temple’s Shusterman Hall as well as over Zoom.

The link to register for this free event can be found here.

January 12, 2023 in CERD, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

New Article: Human Rights and Lawyer's Oaths

Lauren E. Bartlett, Human Rights and Lawyer’s Oaths, 36 Geo. J. Legal Ethics ____ (2023). Abstract below.

Each lawyer in the United States must take an oath to be licensed to practice law. The first time a lawyer takes this oath is usually a momentous occasion in their career, marked by ceremony and celebration. Yet, many lawyer’s oaths today are unremarkable and irrelevant to modern law practice at best, and at worst, inappropriate, discriminatory, and obsolete. Drawing on a fifty-state survey of lawyer’s oaths in the United States, this article argues that it is past time to update lawyer’s oaths in the United States and suggests drawing on human rights to make lawyer’s oaths more accessible and impactful.

January 10, 2023 in Books and articles, Ethics, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)