Amid the shockwaves from the Supreme Court yesterday — in particular the decision to allow parts of President Trump’s travel ban to go into effect until the court hears arguments this fall — came a decision that got notably less attention. The court has decided not to hear a case involving age-discrimination, allowing a lower court ruling to stand. From a ProPublica article in March:
For the past half century, federal law has banned employers from discriminating against people based on their age. But since the early 1990s, corporate lawyers and conservative judges have sought to shrink what counts as discrimination, making it substantially harder to prove age bias. […]
The case involves an Atlanta man named Richard Villarreal, who applied online for a sales manager job with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in 2007 and heard nothing. When he applied in subsequent years, he had no better luck.
What Villarreal, who was 49 at the time of his first application, didn’t know was that Reynolds had retained a subcontractor to review the applications, supplying guidelines that led reviewers to discard his resume and those of almost 20,000 other older applicants. Of the roughly 1,000 sales managers the tobacco company hired between 2007 and 2010, when Villarreal was applying, fewer than a score were over the age of 40. After a whistleblower emerged in 2010, Villarreal sued.
The significance of the case is two-fold. It highlights the hurdles for job seekers as hiring has increasingly moved online, where it’s easier for companies to reject whole classes of applicants and harder for people to keep track of their bids for work. And it illustrates how age discrimination protections have been progressively narrowed. The tobacco company’s defense challenges decades of precedent for how the law has been interpreted and enforced. Continue reading Supreme Court Won’t Weigh in on Age Discrimination in Hiring Practices
Yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal commission on fair employment practices, ruled that New York City has underpaid its female and minority employees, engaging in a broad pattern of discrimination that could cost the City hundreds of millions of dollars. From the New York Times:
The ruling comes in response to a complaint brought against the administraton of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on behalf of more than 1,000 administrative managers employed by the city and represented by Local 1180 of the Communications Workers of America.
Specifically, the commission found that “structural and historic problems” have resulted in the pay of minorities and women being suppressed.
“This rate of pay is much less than their white male counterparts’ in similarly situated jobs and titles,” according to the commission’s findings. Continue reading NYC: EEOC Rules in Favor of Underpaid Minority, Female Employees
By Steve Brier
The New York Times recently ran back-to-back articles in their “This Working Life” column by Rachel Swarns. The first article, which appeared in the Oct. 19 issue of the paper, describes the firing of a pregnant low- wage worker, Angelica Valencia, from her position at Fierman Produce Exchange in Queens, where she earned $8.70 an hour packing potatoes. Her job, which frequently required overtime work, led her to get a doctor’s note indicating that her “high risk” pregnancy required that she not work beyond 40 hours a week. The company insisted that both overtime and heavy lifting of boxes were essential parts of the job and, despite passage by the City Council more than a year ago of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, the company refused to make an accommodation for Ms. Valencia and fired her in August. The company claimed that she was unable to continue working because she was at “high risk” in a workplace “that was fast-paced, was very physical and involved machinery.” Continue reading Fighting Sexism in the Workplace