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Topic: "Discrimination - Race" | Main

Affirmative action ban in state constitution violates US constitution (8-7)
November 16, 2012 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Michigan voters adopted a state constitutional amendment that prohibits "all sex- and race-based preferences in public education, public employment, and public contracting."

The 6th Circuit (8-7) held this provision - as it relates to education - violates the 14th amendment's equal protection clause.

Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. Univ of Michigan (6th Cir 11/15/2012)

(Plaintiffs limited their challenge to racial discrimination in public education.)

The court said that a black applicant could seek adoption of a constitutionally permissible race-conscious admissions policy only through the "lengthy, expensive, and arduous process" of amending the state constitution. On the other hand, someone wishing to change any other aspect of a university's admissions policy has four options - lobby the admissions committee, petition the leadership of the university, seek to influence the school's governing board, or initiate a statewide campaign to alter the state's constitution.

"The existence of such a comparative structural burden undermines the Equal Protection Clause's guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change."

Seven judges wrote five DISSENTING opinions. Six said that the majority relied on two US Supreme Court cases that "have no application here," and one said that the majority relied on "an extreme extension" of those cases. The cases are Hunter v. Erickson, 393 US 385 (1969), and Washington v. Seattle Sch Dist, 458 US 457 (1982).



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$22,000 settles retaliation suit
April 27, 2011 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

A long-term care facility will pay $22,000 to settle a lawsuit for retaliation brought by the EEOC.

EEOC charged that the employer fired a housekeeping supervisor because she had complained about racial harassment and racial discrimination. She was fired within days of her complaint.

[Press Release]



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$300,000 harassment settlement
April 23, 2011 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Ganley Lincoln of Bedford, Inc. will pay $300,000 to four African-Americans to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the EEOC.

In its suit, the EEOC charged that the company's general manager routinely used derogatory terms to refer to black customers and employees.

The agency further charged that the manager used a compensation system that disadvantaged black salespeople with regard to sales opportunities and commissions.

[Press release]



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SCOTUS: Firefighters win disparate impact case
May 24, 2010 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Lewis v. City of Chicago (US Supreme Ct 05/24/2010):

The City administered a written test to firefighter job applicants in 1995. The City notified applicants of the results at the end of January 1996. Plaintiffs filed an EEOC charge on March 21, 1997 claiming that the test had a disparate impact on black applicants and was not a valid test of firefighting aptitude. The charge was filed more than 400 days after the plaintiffs were notified, but within 300 days of the City's beginning to hire applicants. The trial court ruled that each hiring was a fresh violation of Title VII, so the plaintiffs' suit was timely. The 7th Circuit reversed, finding that "discrimination was complete when the tests were scored" and "was discovered when the applicants learned the results." Therefore, the EEOC charge was not filed on time.

The US Supreme Court unanimously reversed, holding that a plaintiff who does not file a timely charge challenging the adoption of a practice may assert a disparate-impact claim in a timely charge challenging the employer’s later application of that practice as long as he alleges each of the elements of a disparate-impact claim. Here, the question was not whether the claim based on the City's conduct was timely, but whether it can be the basis for a disparate-impact claim at all. The Court concluded that it can be. The Court said, "a plaintiff establishes a prima facie disparate-impact claim by showing that the employer 'uses a particular employment practice that causes a disparate impact' on one of the prohibited bases."



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$5 million EEOC consent decree: Employer complies
February 22, 2010 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

A federal district court has lifted a consent decree, finding that Woodward Governor Co has complied.

The decree resulted in $5 million being distributed to minority and female employees.

The decree also required that Woodward use a psychologist to analyze jobs, develop written job descriptions, a performance appraisal, and compensation review process.

Woodward was required to review the job assignments of its current production employees and adjust them as necessary based on the new job descriptions.

[Press release]



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$400,000 race discrimination settlement
February 22, 2010 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

EEOC and Big Lots have settled a race discrimination suit for $400,000.

EEOC claimed that the company subjected a black maintenance mechanic and other black employees to race harassment and discrimination.

The $400,000 will be paid to at least five employees along with a group of unidentified class members.

[Press release]



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OFCCP ALJ finds race discrimination by Bank of America
February 07, 2010 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

An OFCCP ALJ has issued a recommended ruling that Bank of America discriminated against African-American job applicants for entry level positions in Charlotte, NC, in 1993 and from 2002 to 2005.

Next: A hearing to determine what remedies should be provided by the bank.

DOL Press release 02/02/2010:

Following US Labor Department investigation, administrative law judge finds Bank of America discriminated against African-American job applicants

WASHINGTON — A protracted case that started with a U.S. Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) investigation has resulted in an administrative law judge's (ALJ) recommended ruling that Bank of America discriminated against African-American job applicants for entry level positions in Charlotte, N.C., in 1993 and from 2002 to 2005.

"The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that all workers — including African-Americans — are treated fairly by federal contractors in decisions concerning hiring, promotion and compensation," said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. "Further, contractors cannot use litigation as a means to obstruct OFCCP's ability to conduct its authorized investigations and pursue relief for victims of discrimination."

The ruling by ALJ Linda Chapman arises in a case that began in 1993 when OFCCP requested information from NationsBank (the bank's previous name) as part of a compliance review to determine if the bank, as a federal government contractor, treated its employees without discrimination as required by Executive Order 11246. After OFCCP advised the bank in 1995 of its findings of discrimination, the bank challenged — in federal court — OFCCP's authority to conduct the review as a violation of the bank's Fourth Amendment rights. After the challenge failed and Labor Department attorneys filed an administrative complaint, the bank pursued that challenge in the administrative forum. The department's Administrative Review Board ruled in 2003 that if the bank had consented to the review, there was no Fourth Amendment violation. The ALJ subsequently held that the bank had, in fact, consented, and department attorneys were able to address the discrimination claims.

After that hearing, ALJ Chapman held that the bank intentionally discriminated against African-American clerical, administrative and teller applicants at its Charlotte facility. The ALJ also held that the bank's failure to retain records as required by law without justification did not lessen the statistical disparities found by OFCCP's expert. Chapman now will hold a hearing to determine what remedies should be provided by the bank. After the ALJ issues a recommended decision on a remedy, the case will proceed to the department's Administrative Review Board for a final agency decision.

OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), 38 U.S.C. 4212, that prohibit employment discrimination by federal contractors. The agency monitors federal contractors to ensure that they provide equal employment opportunities without regard to race, gender, color, religion, national origin, disability or veteran status. Information is available at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.




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$30 million suit claims discrimination by law firm
January 29, 2010 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

A former associate of Howrey LLP filed her $30 million race and national origin discrimination suit Wednesday in DC Superior Court.

Kamisha Menns, a black female citizen of Jamaica, had worked in the firm's Brussels office. She claims she was subjected to escalating hostility and discrimination from colleagues, staff and supervisors.

[Article]



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$105,000 settles race case
January 25, 2010 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

EEOC claimed that Memphis Goodwill Industries fired a transportation director in retaliation for reporting alleged race discrimination and because of her race.

The employer agreed to pay the former employee $105,000, purge her personnel file of negative disciplinary actions, and provide her with a reference agreed to by the parties.

[Press release]



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Federal court grants relief to New York firefighters
January 25, 2010 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Two weeks ago the Eastern District of New York held that New York City violated Title VII (intentional pattern of discrimination) through the use of written examinations to screen and rank firefighter applicants. [Order]

Now the court has issued its remedial order, designed to remedy discrimination against black and Hispanic applicants.

The complex order affects about 7,400 minority applicants who took the tests, requires that 293 applicants be given priority hiring status and retroactive seniority, and provides for monetary and other relief.

[Remedial order]



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$250,000 and reinstatement settles race case
January 22, 2010 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

EEOC claimed that Conmed Linvatec discharged an employee because of his race.

The company has agreed to pay the employee $250,000 and reinstate him to his former position.

[Press release]



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DOJ claims state's promotion exam violates Title VII
January 13, 2010 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

The Justice Department has sued the State of New Jersey and the New Jersey Civil Service Commission alleging a pattern or practice of employment discrimination against African-Americans and Hispanics.

The complaint claims that a written examination for promotion to the rank of police sergeant has a disparate impact on African-Americans and Hispanics, and that the exam is not job related and consistent with business necessity.

[Press release]



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$85,000 settles race discrimination and retaliation case
January 11, 2010 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

EEOC charged that a Chevrolet dealership subjected a class of African Americans to different terms and conditions of employment and a hostile work environment on the basis of race.

Alleged conduct included racial epithets, such as repeated use of the N-word, and also involved management making sales team assignments based upon race, and withholding wages from one of the individuals after he complained.

[Press release]



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$300,000 settles race discrimination suit
January 08, 2010 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

EEOC claimed that Vanguard Group refused hire an applicant for a financial planning manager position because of her race, and hired a less qualified white applicant.

The suit settled for $300,000 and other relief.

[Press release]



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$1,073,261 judgment in sex and race discrimination case
December 30, 2009 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

EEOC sued claiming that Whirlpool Corporation failed to protect a black female employee from persistent harassment by a white male coworker, which ultimately resulted in her being physically assaulted by him.

Following a bench trial, a federal district court awarded the employee $773,261 in back pay and front pay, and $300,000 in compensatory damages.

[Press release]



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$60,000 settles disability and race discrimination suit
December 28, 2009 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

EEOC claimed an employer discriminated against a black employee when it sent her for a drug screen when she experienced symptoms of diabetes at work, then discharged her after she passed the test.

EEOC claimed the decision to require the drug screen was based on the fact she is African American, and the discharge was because of her disability (insulin-dependent diabetes) and her race.

[Press release]



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$8.9 million settles three EEOC suits
December 16, 2009 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Albertsons, LLC, a national grocery chain, will pay $8.9 million to settle three employment discrimination lawsuits filed by the EEOC.

The suits involved claims of retaliation and race, color and national origin discrimination and harassment.

[Press release]



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EEOC claims racially hostile workplace
December 14, 2009 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

EEOC sued a freight hauling company Thursday claiming black employees were subjected to hangman’s nooses, racist graffiti, racist comments, and unequal treatment in discipline and work assignments.

[Press release]



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City violated Title VII by discarding racially disproportionate test results (5-4)
June 29, 2009 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Today the US Supreme Court decided Ricci v. DeStefano (US Supreme Court 06/29/2009)

The New Haven, Connecticut fire department administered civil service tests for applicants for positions as captain and lieutenant. The examination resulted in disproportionately higher scores for white applicants than for minority applicants. The department decided not to implement the exam results for fear that doing so would put them in violation of Title VII. Therefore, positions remained unfilled. A group of white and Hispanic applicants sued claiming a violation of Title VII and of the equal protection clause. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants, and the 2nd Circuit affirmed.

The US Supreme Court reversed, holding that the City’s action in discarding the tests violated Title VII.

Official Syllabus:

New Haven, Conn. (City), uses objective examinations to identify those firefighters best qualified for promotion. When the results of such an exam to fill vacant lieutenant and captain positions showed that white candidates had outperformed minority candidates, a rancorous public debate ensued. Confronted with arguments both for and against certifying the test results—and threats of a lawsuit either way—the City threw out the results based on the statistical racial disparity. Petitioners, white and Hispanic firefighters who passed the exams but were denied a chance at promotions by the City’s refusal to certify the test results, sued the City and respondent officials, alleging that discarding the test results discriminated against them based on their race in violation of, inter alia, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The defendants responded that had they certified the test results, they could have faced Title VII liability for adopting a practice having a disparate impact on minority firefighters. The District Court granted summary judgment for the defendants, and the Second Circuit affirmed.

Held: The City’s action in discarding the tests violated Title VII.

(a) Title VII prohibits intentional acts of employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, 42 U. S. C. §2000e–2(a)(1) (disparate treatment), as well as policies or practices that are not intended to discriminate but in fact have a disproportionately adverse effect on minorities, §2000e–2(k)(1)(A)(i) (disparate impact). Once a plaintiff has established a prima facie case of disparate impace, the employer may defend by demonstrating that its policy or practice is "job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity." Ibid. If the employer meets that burden, the plaintiff may still succeed by showing that the employer refuses to adopt an available alternative practice that has less disparate impact and serves the employer’s legitimate needs. §§2000e–2(k)(1)(A)(ii) and (C).

(b) Under Title VII, before an employer can engage in intentional discrimination for the asserted purpose of avoiding or remedying an unintentional, disparate impact, the employer must have a strong basis in evidence to believe it will be subject to disparate-impact liability if it fails to take the race-conscious, discriminatory action. The Court’s analysis begins with the premise that the City’s actions would violate Title VII’s disparate-treatment prohibition absent some valid defense. All the evidence demonstrates that the City rejected the test results because the higher scoring candidates were white. Without some other justification, this express, race-based decisionmaking is prohibited. The question, therefore, is whether the purpose to avoid disparate-impact liability excuses what otherwise would be prohibited disparate-treatment discrimination. The Court has considered cases similar to the present litigation, but in the context of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Such cases can provide helpful guidance in this statutory context. See Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust, 487 U. S. 977, 993. In those cases, the Court held that certain government actions to remedy past racial discrimination—actions that are themselves based on race—are constitutional only where there is a "strong basis in evidence" that the remedial actions were necessary. Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co., 488 U. S. 469, 500; see also Wygant v. Jackson Bd. of Ed., 476 U. S. 267,
277. In announcing the strong-basis-in-evidence standard, the Wygant plurality recognized the tension between eliminating segregation and discrimination on the one hand and doing away with all governmentally imposed discrimination based on race on the other. 476 U. S., at 277. It reasoned that "[e]videntiary support for the conclusion that remedial action is warranted becomes crucial when the remedial program is challenged in court by nonminority employees." Ibid. The same interests are at work in the interplay between Title VII’s disparate-treatment and disparate-impact provisions. Applying the strong-basis-in-evidence standard to Title VII gives effect to both provisions, allowing violations of one in the name of compliance with the other only in certain, narrow circumstances. It also allows the disparate-impact prohibition to work in a manner that is consistent with other Title VII provisions, including the prohibition on adjusting employment-related test scores based on race, see §2000e–2(l), and the section that expressly protects bona fide promotional exams, see §2000e–2(h). Thus, the Court adopts the strong-basis-in evidence standard as a matter of statutory construction in order to resolve any conflict between Title VII’s disparate-treatment and disparate-impact provisions.

(c) The City’s race-based rejection of the test results cannot satisfy the strong-basis-in-evidence standard.

(i) The racial adverse impact in this litigation was significant, and petitioners do not dispute that the City was faced with a prima facie case of disparate-impact liability. The problem for respondents is that such a prima facie case—essentially, a threshold showing of a significant statistical disparity, Connecticut v. Teal, 457 U. S. 440, 446, and nothing more—is far from a strong basis in evidence that the City would have been liable under Title VII had it certified the test results. That is because the City could be liable for disparate-impact discrimination only if the exams at issue were not job related and consistent with business necessity, or if there existed an equally valid, less discriminatory alternative that served the City’s needs but that the City refused to adopt. §§2000e–2(k)(1)(A), (C). Based on the record the parties developed through discovery, there is no substantial basis in evidence that the test was deficient in either respect.

(ii) The City’s assertions that the exams at issue were not job related and consistent with business necessity are blatantly contradicted by the record, which demonstrates the detailed steps taken to develop and administer the tests and the painstaking analyses of the questions asked to assure their relevance to the captain and lieutenant positions. The testimony also shows that complaints that certain examination questions were contradictory or did not specifically apply to firefighting practices in the City were fully addressed, and that the City turned a blind eye to evidence supporting the exams’ validity.

(iii) Respondents also lack a strong basis in evidence showing an equally valid, less discriminatory testing alternative that the City, by certifying the test results, would necessarily have refused to adopt. Respondents’ three arguments to the contrary all fail. First, respondents refer to testimony that a different composite-score calculation would have allowed the City to consider black candidates for then open positions, but they have produced no evidence to show that the candidate weighting actually used was indeed arbitrary, or that the different weighting would be an equally valid way to determine whether candidates are qualified for promotions. Second, respondents argue that the City could have adopted a different interpretation of its charter provision limiting promotions to the highest scoring applicants, and that the interpretation would have produced less discriminatory results; but respondents’ approach would have violated Title VII’s prohibition of race-based adjustment of test results, §2000e–2(l). Third, testimony asserting that the use of an assessment center to evaluate candidates’ behavior in typical job tasks would have had less adverse impact than written exams does not aid respondents, as it is contradicted by other statements in the record indicating that the City could not have used assessment centers for the exams at issue. Especially when it is noted that the strong-basis in-evidence standard applies to this case, respondents cannot create a genuine issue of fact based on a few stray (and contradictory) statements in the record.
(iv) Fear of litigation alone cannot justify the City’s reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions. Discarding the test results was impermissible under Title VII, and summary judgment is appropriate for petitioners on their disparate-treatment claim. If, after it certifies the test results, the City faces a disparate-impact suit, then in light of today’s holding the City can avoid disparate-impact liability based on the strong basis in evidence that, had it not certified the results, it would have been subject to disparate-treatment liability.

530 F. 3d 87, reversed and remanded.

KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C.J., and SCALIA, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed a concurring opinion. ALITO, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which SCALIA and THOMAS, JJ., joined. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEVENS, SOUTER, and BREYER, JJ., joined.



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Supreme Court transcript in employment discrimination case
April 22, 2009 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Today the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Ricci v. DeStefano [details, briefs].

The official transcript of the oral argument is here.

The New Haven, Connecticut fire department administered civil service tests for applicants for positions as captain and lieutenant. The examination resulted in disproportionately higher scores for white applicants than for minority applicants. The department decided not to implement the exam results for fear that doing so would put them in violation of Title VII. Therefore, positions remained unfilled.

A group of white and Hispanic applicants sued claiming a violation of Title VII and of the equal protection clause. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants, and the 2nd Circuit affirmed. The US Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the 2nd Circuit judgment, and heard oral arguments on April 22.



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Study finds (well, duh) racial bias in the advertising industry
January 14, 2009 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Probably no industry in the United States is free from racial bias. Yet a recent study indicates that the advertising industry really has a long way to go.

In NEW DATA EXPOSES DRAMATIC RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN U.S. ADVERTISING INDUSTRY the NAACP summarizes the whole story. [Read the full study]


Specific findings include:

Black college graduates working in advertising earn $.80 for every dollar earned by their equally-qualified White counterparts;

Based on national demographic data, 9.6 percent of advertising managers and professionals should be African-Americans. The actual percentage in 2008 is 5.3 percent, representing a difference of 7,200 executive-level jobs;

About 16 percent of large advertising firms employ no black managers or professionals, a rate 60 percent higher than in the overall labor market;

Black managers and professionals in the industry are only one-tenth as likely as their White counterparts to earn $100,000 a year;

Blacks are only 62 percent as likely as their white counterparts to work in the powerful “creative” and “client contact” functions in advertising agencies;

Eliminating the industry’s current black-white employment gap would require tripling its Black managers and professionals.



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US Supreme Court takes Title VII case on municipality's refusal to implement promotion exam results
January 09, 2009 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Ricci v. DeStefano (07-1428 and 08-328)
Certiorari granted January 9, 2009
Details, briefs: http://www.lawmemo.com/supreme/case/Ricci/

The New Haven, Connecticut fire department administered civil service tests for applicants for positions as captain and lieutenant. The examination resulted in disproportionately higher scores for white applicants than for minority applicants. The department decided not to implement the exam results for fear that doing so would put them in violation of Title VII. Therefore, positions remained unfilled.

A group of white and Hispanic applicants sued claiming a violation of Title VII and of the equal protection clause. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants, and the 2nd Circuit affirmed.

Two petitions for certiorari were filed. Both were granted.

Questions presented in 07-1428:

This case presents recurring issues regarding proper application of Title VII and the Equal Protection Clause to the civil service. Petitioners, New Haven fire fighters and lieutenants, qualified for promotion to command positions pursuant to jobrelated examinations and merit selection rules mandated by local law. Citing the race of the successful candidates and Title VII's "disparate impact" provision, city officials refused to promote the petitioners.

1. When an otherwise valid civil service selection process yields unintended racially disproportionate results, may municipalities reject the results and the successful candidates for reasons of race absent the demonstration required by 42 U.S.C. §2000e-2(k)?

2. Does 42 U.S.C. §2000e-2(1) which makes it unlawful for employers "to adjust the scores of, use different cutoff scores for, or otherwise alter the results of, employment related tests on the basis of race ... ," permit employers to refuse to act on the results of such tests for reasons of race?

3. If, citing the public interest in eradicating political patronage, racism and corruption in civil service, a state's highest court mandates strict compliance with local laws requiring race-blind competitive merit selection procedures, does 42 U.S.C. §2000e-7 permit federal courts to relieve municipalities from compliance with such laws?

Questions presented in 08-328:

This case presents the question whether Title VII and the Equal Protection Clause allow a government employer to reject the results of a civil-service selection process because it does not like the racial distribution of the results. Specifically:

1. When a content-valid civil-service examination and race-neutral selection process yield unintended racially disproportionate results, do a municipality and its officials racially discriminate in violation of the Equal Protection Clause or Title VII when they reject the results and the successful candidates to achieve racial proportionality in candidates selected?

2. Does an employer violate 42 U.S.C. §2000e-2(/), which makes it unlawful for employers "to adjust the scores of, use different cutoff scores for, or otherwise alter the results of, employment related tests on the basis of race," when it rejects the results of such tests because of the race of the successful candidates?



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Punitive damages without an award of compensatory damages.
January 03, 2008 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Abner v. The Kansas City So RR (5th Cir 01/02/2008)

Eight African American employees sued claiming a work environment hostile to race, in violation of Title VII and 42 USC 1981. A jury returned a verdict finding the employer liable, awarded no compensatory damages, and awarded $125,000 in punitive damages. The 5th Circuit affirmed.

The evidence, which extended over a ten year period, indicated that the employees were subjected to racial graffiti, a noose hanging outside a door, racially derogatory comments, and discriminatory assignments. The jury found that supervisors caused and/or failed to properly respond to this racially derogatory behavior.

(1) The court held that a punitive damages award under Title VII and Section 1981 need not be accompanied by compensatory damages. This was based on the "plain language" of the statute, the legislative history, and the purpose of punitive damages. Any concern about unbounded jury discretion is directly addressed by the statutory cap on punitive damages. Due to the statutory cap, it is not necessary for a trial court to award "ceremonial" nominal damages of $1 to each plaintiff.

(2) The court rejected the employer's argument that an award of punitive damages violates due process under the test in BMW of North America v. Gore, 517 US 559 (1996), saying that "the three-factor Gore analysis is relevant only if the statutory cap itself offends due process." As with cases in which punitive damages accompany nominal damages, "a ratio-based inquiry becomes irrelevant."

(3) The court held that it was proper to allow the plaintiffs to testify about conduct over a ten year period. National Railroad Passenger Corp v. Morgan, 536 US 101 (2002) said that if "an act contributing to the claim occurs within the filing period, the entire time period of the hostile environment may be considered." To the extent that there was testimony outside of the ten year period, it did not cause prejudicial error.



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2.5 MILLION for harrassing one employee
January 03, 2008 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Here's the EEOC press release:

EEOC Says African American Electrician Subjected to ‘N-Word’ and Threats of Lynching at Worksites Across the Country

HONOLULU -- The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a major settlement of a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military contractor, for $2,500,000 and other relief on behalf of an African American electrician who was subjected to a racially hostile work environment at several job sites nationwide – including threats of lynching and the “N-word.”

The monetary relief for former Lockheed employee Charles Daniels is the largest amount ever obtained by the EEOC for a single person in a race discrimination case, and one of the largest amounts recovered for an individual in any litigation settlement by the agency. Additionally, the Bethesda, Md.-based company agreed to terminate the harassers and make significant policy changes to address any future discrimination, the EEOC said at a press conference in Hawaii.

The EEOC’s suit, filed in August 2005, alleged that Daniels was subjected to severe racial harassment while working on military aircrafts as part of a field service team in Jacksonville, Fla., Whidbey Island, Wash., and Oah’u, Hawaii. The EEOC charged that Daniels was the target of persistent verbal abuse by coworkers and a supervisor whose racial slurs and offensive language included calling him the “N-word” and saying “we should do to blacks what Hitler did to the Jews” and “if the South had won then this would be a better country.” Daniels was also subjected to multiple physical threats, such as lynching and other death threats after he reported the harassment. Despite its legal obligations, Lockheed failed to discipline the harassers and instead allowed the discrimination against Daniels to continue unabated – even though the company was aware of the unlawful conduct.

Commenting on the settlement, Daniels said: “As an armed forces veteran who swore to defend the rights and interest of Americans around the globe, I find it sad that the U.S. government had to sue its largest defense contractor Lockheed Martin -- whose slogan is ‘We never forget who we’re working for’ -- to protect my rights here at home!”

Daniels added, “I am pleased that we stood up for justice, because it should help all hard-working Americans of every race and gender to know that we have rights and protections guaranteed under the laws of this nation.”

EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo said, “This is a very good resolution because Lockheed Martin agreed to terminate and permanently bar Daniel’s harassers from employment. It sends a powerful message that racism cannot and must not be tolerated.”

Raymond Cheung, the EEOC attorney who led the government’s litigation effort, added, “To combat the harassment and threats faced by Mr. Daniels is at the heart of why the EEOC was created. Despite concerns of retaliation, this man had the courage to stand up and make public what happened to him, in an effort to ensure that it would not happen to anyone else. It has been a once-in-a-lifetime honor to work on this case.”

The litigation and consent decree were filed by the EEOC under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in the U.S. Court for the District of Hawaii (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Lockheed Martin, CV-05-00479).

EEOC Honolulu Local Office Director Timothy Riera praised the agency’s lead investigator in the case, Gloria Gervacio, and said: “The overt harassment to which Mr. Daniels was subjected in Hawaii represents some of the most severe misconduct this office has come across. It is imperative that employers here take proactive measures to ensure that discrimination complaints are taken seriously and that all employees work in an environment free of harassment.”

Racial harassment charge filings with EEOC offices nationwide have more than doubled since the early 1990s from 3,075 in Fiscal Year 1991 to approximately 7,000 in FY 2007 (based on preliminary year-end data). Additionally, race remains the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination in charges brought to the EEOC, accounting for about 36% of the agency’s private sector caseload.

On Feb. 28, 2007, EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp launched the Commission's E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), a national outreach, education, and enforcement campaign focusing on new and emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace. Further information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/initiatives/e-race/index.html



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Supreme Court will decide 42 USC Section 1981 retaliation case
September 25, 2007 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries (certiorari granted 09/25/2007)
Details: http://www.lawmemo.com/supreme/CBOCS/

Humphries sued under 42 USC Section 1981 claiming that his employer discharged him in retaliation for complaining to managers about (a) disciplinary actions taken against him allegedly because of his race, and (b) the discharge of another employee allegedly because of that employee's race.

The 7th Circuit held (2-1) that 42 USC Section 1981 provides a cause of action for retaliation.

The US Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the 7th Circuit's judgment.



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