An Employment Law Blog Focused on Civility, Bullying and Discrimination
Incivility: Is it Trump’s Fault?
There has been much discussion lately about the role of Republican President Donald Trump in the incivility that hovers like a dark cloud over our country.
However, a recent nationwide poll shows that incivility was a problem long before Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, though he certainly hasn’t helped the problem.
Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate, in partnership with KRC Research, began its annual Civility in America poll in 2010, five years before Trump’s entry into national politics. That year, 65 percent of Americans thought incivility was a “major problem.” The most recent poll in December 2016 found that 69 percent of Americans felt that incivility is a major problem.
It would seem that something more systemic and entrenched in American society is responsible for the increasingly sad state of life in America. My guess is that incivility has its roots in the corruption that led to the collapse of Wall Street and the worst depression in 100 years. The government stood by and then failed to prosecute financiers who looted middle class pensions and savings. The situation today is not much better. Our economy is increasingly dominated by predatory monopolies and tax averse multi-national corporations. The entire U.S. news media is owned by 15 billionaires who benefit from the status quo. Meanwhile, the opioid epidemic killed an estimated 64,000 Americans in 2016.
There are distressing signs that incivility is crossing the line into low-level violence.
Continue reading “Incivility: Is it Trump’s Fault?”
A study committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine is urging sate legislatures and Congress to pass new laws to better protect targets of sexual harassment from retaliation.
In a recently released report, the Committee on the Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia states that current laws, policies and procedures don’t work because targets of sexual harassment fear retaliation if they report the perpetrator. The group stresses a change in culture and climate is necessary to halt sexual harassment in academia.
The committee, which began its work in 2016 prior to the #metoo movement, estimates that more than 50 percent of women faculty and staff and from 20 to 50 percent of women students “encounter and experience” sexually harassing conduct in academia.
The committee includes scientists, engineers, physicians and experts in sexual harassment research, legal studies and psychology.
Judicial decisions encourage employers to achieve legal compliance and avoid liability, not to prevent sexual harassment.
Democracy in America is under attack, according to The National Judicial College.
The NCJ, based in Reno, NV, sounds a warning bell in an email fundraising appeal entitled, “In times like these, America is counting on judges.”
According to the NCJ:
“Democracy’s last line of defense is being tested … Today many foundational elements of democratic civil society are under attack: law enforcement, a free press, an impartial judiciary insulated from the influence of the political branches.”
The NCJ says judges were charged by the framers of the U.S. Constitution to serve as a check “against unjust acts by the executive or legislative branches.” It urges recipients to donate now to “defend the rule of law.”
So apparently judges are the only thing standing between America and fascism? Are these the same judges who authorized dark money in political elections through the Citizen’s United ruling and who refuse to televise their proceedings?
The NCJ calls itself “the nation’s premier judicial education institution.” It is affiliated with the University of Nevada at Reno.
Federal Courts Waste Taxpayers Dollars & Thumb Their Nose at Taxpayers
The vast majority of Americans are effectively locked out of federal courts because they have no money and the “system” is almost intentionally hostile and un-navigable for lay people.
Yet U.S. courts are more than willing to spend endless hours and unlimited taxpayer dollars on cases where the guilt is patently obvious if the parties have “deep pockets.”
The system evolved this way because there is no citizen-input into the process, which is shrouded in secrecy, and the U.S. Congress fails to exercise its limited oversight in approving the federal judiciary’s budget.
The insiders -lawyers – are uncritical because they profit when they alone hold the keys to the courthouse. Employment lawyers who represent workers routinely charge $400 an hour, despite a 2017 survey finding that 57 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts.
Lawyers also don’t want to alienate federal judges who have almost unlimited power, no real accountability, and lifetime tenure.
It is long past time for the leadership of the U.S. court system to acknowledge the arrival of the 21st Century. Federal courts are desperately in need of reform to make the system usable and friendly to American consumers.
Federal courts are in desperate need of reform.
Continue reading “Federal Courts Waste Taxpayers Dollars & Thumb Their Nose at Taxpayers”
The case primarily involves age discrimination but includes a sex discrimination claim.
The sex discrimination claim gave rise to a venue dispute involving where the lawsuit could be filed.
The federal government said the case had to be transferred from Arizona to Nevada because of a special venue provision in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination.
The plaintiff, an Arizona woman who is proceeding pro se, argued in court papers that the case should be moved to California, which would be more convenient for her and would not inconvenience the federal government. Alternatively, she asked to amend her complaint to drop the Title VII claim that gave rise to the venue dispute so the case could remain in Arizona.
The presiding judge was U.S. District Court Judge James A. Soto, 67, a Hispanic who was appointed to the bench in 2014 by former President Barack Obama. The job of a federal judge is to follow the law. Federal judges are paid more than $200,000 a year to put aside their personal bias and prejudice and to be fair.
It was not complicated. Federal courts have ruled that venue should be interpreted broadly in civil rights cases because Congress intended to afford citizens full and easy redress of grievances. Federal rules encourage judges to”freely” grant leave for a Plaintiff to amend her complaint, barring evidence of ill motive.
Judge Soto agreed that venue was proper in both California and Arizona (if Plaintiff dropped the conflicting sex discrimination claim). However, he ruled, without elaborating, that “judicial efficiency dictates that a transfer to the District of Nevada is in the interest of justice.” Continue reading “The Problem with Federal Judges Who Bully”
A recent poll has found that civility is worsening, promoting political gridlock, causing people to disengage from politics and leading to intolerance of free speech.
These were the findings of the 8th installment of Civility in America, an online poll conducted in January by KRC Research of Washington, DC, for two public relations firms, Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate. The survey was based on a representative sample of 1,481 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older, drawn from a national consumer panel.
According to the poll:
93% of the public agrees the nation has a civility problem, with 73% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats characterizing it as a “major” problem.
Nearly three-quarters of the public agree the problem has gotten worse compared to a few years ago.
Members of both parties generally agree that incivility is having or will have negative consequences for the U.S.
83% of the public says incivility leads to intolerance of free speech.
60% say incivility has led them to stop paying attention to political debates or conversations.
59% say incivility is deterring people from entering public service.
One of the sharpest areas of disagreement concerned Republican President Donald Trump – 64% of Republicans and 14% of Democrats believe that President Trump is personally civil. However, this finding echoes a similar finding in 2014 with respect to former Democratic President Barack Obama – 81 percent of Democrats said President Obama twas civil, compared to 14% of Republicans.
Last year, the poll found that politicians (64%) and the internet and social media (63%) share the blame for the rise of incivility. The news media (54%) was also blamed due instantaneous, nonstop media coverage that most (64%) believe makes incivility appear worse than it is.
* Note: The author, Patricia G. Barnes, J.D., offers civility and anti-harassment training to employers seeking to improve their workplace culture and boost their bottom line. Email [email protected]
Unfortunately, many federal court decisions live in infamy.
Now the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City has added a new one to the list.
A three-judge panel ruled last week that a discriminatory federal hiring program does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it involves age discrimination, rather than race or sex discrimination.
The Equal Protection Clause states the government shall not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.
Former President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2010 creating the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Pathways Recent Graduates Hiring Program. The program, which took effect in 2012, created a back-door exception to the Age Discrimination in Hiring Act of 1967, allowing federal agencies to limit hiring to applicants who graduated within the past two years. The Pathways program has had an overwhelmingly disparate impact on older workers, who have been barred from applying for 100,000 jobs and counting. This is clear disparate impact discrimination.
The 2nd Circuit panel states in its decision that the federal government proffered a “rational basis” for allowing age discrimination under the Pathways Program – “to replenish a workforce containing an evergrowing number of Federal employees near[ing] retirement age with students and recent graduates.” Moreover, the panel said the government’s rationale is connected to a “legitimate” government purpose.
How can it be “rational” and “legitimate” to discriminate based on a trait (age) that is not relevant to a job and over which group members have no control?
It does not speak well for the employer when the employer fires multiple employees who were handpicked for their positions.
In the past year, President Donald Trump has fired a long list of high-ranking appointees, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, advisor (and reality TV star) Omarosa Manigault, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, FBI Director James Comey, numerous members of Trump’s White House communication’s staff, etc.
Employers are at least partly responsible when an employee does not succeed in a job.
Continue reading “Trump’s Revolving Door May Hit Him in the Behind”
A group of 180 senior female advertising executives is partnering with Time’s Up to address sexual harassment and systemic inequality in the advertising industry.
In a letter of solidarity posted on the Time’s Up web site, the ad executives state:
“Hey, Sisters, we know … As women in senior leadership positions in advertising, we’ve agreed that we have the power to change this business we love until it looks more like the industry we want to lead.”