Last year I had the privilege of working as a Jumpstart Corps Member in a preschool that served low-income families, where almost all of the students were African American or Latina/o. I miss those kids every day, and what is even more painful is knowing that many of these smart, lovable children are going to attend under-resourced schools, where they are less likely to have access to advanced courses and are more likely to be subject to excessive discipline practices. That kind of unequal access to meaningful educational opportunities isn’t fair, and it’s a huge civil rights issue.
This afternoon I’m headed to the Lincoln Memorial for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the March on Washington. Today’s event is both a commemoration and call to action. Thousands are gathering to remember the 1963 March and to outline the remaining civil rights agenda. Read more »
Monday morning I had the honor of observing the oral arguments for Vance v. Ball State at the United States Supreme Court. At issue in the case was how courts should define “supervisor” for the purposes of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination, including sexual harassment. This definition is important because it determines when an employer—in this case, Ball State University—will automatically be held liable for harassment perpetrated by an employee.
The plaintiff in the case is Ms. Vance, a catering assistant at Ball State University, who was the only African-American employee in her division. She alleged that she was threatened and called racially-motivated names by her immediate supervisors, and she suffered greatly because of it. However, Ms. Vance lost her case against the university when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that for the purposes of Title VII, supervisors only include those people who can hire and fire employees. The individuals who harassed her did not have this authority, though they did oversee her day-to-day work. This decision reflects a continuing split among Circuit Courts, as other courts have held that supervisors should also include day-to-day supervisors. Read more »
MANuFACTuring statistic #1: In 2011 manufacturing employment increased for the first time in more than a decade, with annual average employment rising by 205,000 jobs. Unfortunately, women did not share in these gains. In fact, between 2010 and 2011 men’s annual average employment in manufacturing increased by 230,000 jobs while women’s dropped by 25,000 jobs. This divergence was a change from the trend during the recession, when the declines in manufacturing employment were borne proportionately by women and men.