Category: Race Discrimination

What is Title VII Exactly?

lbj and mlkMartin Luther King Jr. Day is a time to remember the impact of the Civil Rights movement on our lives today. In employment and labor law, we are governed federally by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So what is it the importance of the article today?

Title VII deals with discrimination in the workplace as motivated by gender, race, religion, etc. It prohibits employers from basing employment decisions on the aforementioned characteristics. Employers cannot discriminate against anyone who associates with a person of a particular race, gender, religion, etc. either.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a whole, was first introduced by President John F. Kennedy. In October of 1963, Kennedy lined up voting power in the House of Representatives to pass the bill. President Lyndon B. Johnson took over the civil rights crusade after Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963.

After months of filibustering and an eventual compromise to the language of the bill, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, 1964. Martin Luther King Jr. was in attendance for the signing and stood behind the president to watch the historic moment.

Since then, Title VII and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has evolved to include gender identity and transgender status. Though it does specify these characteristics as being protected, it is generally accepted by various entities that gender identity and transgender status are protected classes. Currently there is a large movement to formally include those categories in the language of Title VII.

The Pitfalls of Using Social Media to Hire—Or Not Hire—Prospective Employees

Carol Miaskoff of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) recently spoke on a panel at a Federal Trade Commission Workshop regarding the use of social media to screen employment candidates.

Miaskoff warned employers to be cognizant of using social media because the company can uncover a variety of information that alludes to the applicants’ protected statuses (i.e. race, gender, or disability). In some cases, the decision not to hire someone based on their social media account can be interpreted as a violation of labor law, especially if a company decides not to hire someone once discovering their sexual orientation or that the prospective employee is pregnant, as an example.

Employers must not use prospective workers’ social media sporadically, but instead, should utilize it consistently with all applicants. Again, the employer may be at fault for using social media discriminatorily, but some may argue that employers can use social media for good cause.

Source: National Law Review

Image Source: Geekfairy.co.uk

Tell-all Tale From a Former American Apparel Employee

In a piece entitled, “Twenty Days of Harassment and Racism as an American Apparel Employee,” an author who only identifies herself as “Jane Doe” divulged about her experience working for the ethically clean company. Though the company embraces fair wages for its garment workers and abhors sweatshops, positive company culture has yet to permeate the retail sphere.

Upon interviewing for the position, the store manager emphasized how important the brand’s “images” was and asked question about Jane Doe’s modeling career. It seemed innocent enough. But when Jane began working for the company, her manager was quick to promote racial profiling, instructing Jane to “look out for the black girls, because they’re always the ones shoplifting.”

Throughout her time at American apparel, Jane was harassed by her manager and customers alike. Her manager would comment on how stupid the sexual harassment case was against the company’s CEO. Jane would hear the manager say, “it’s not like he raped them” and “it seems like they were into it, too.”

There was only one African American employee at that store, and she worked exclusively in the back stock room. Jane’s co-worker confirmed that the manager “never hires black girls” because they wanted to attract “the right kind of customer.”

On several occasions, Jane and her co-workers were sexually harassed by a man who asked female employees to try on see through or mesh clothing for him so he could determine if the clothes would look good on his wife. The manager essentially dismissed the employees’ concerns, saying it was alright for the customer to do that so long as they work something underneath. The female workers felt obligated to oblige and thought it was an unspoken part of their jobs. Finally another employee called the police when the same man kept returning. All the manager had to say was, “Well it seems like he’s gone now.”

After 20 days, Jane quit the company citing the hyper sexualized the work place and extreme unprofessionalism. Jane’s complaints aren’t the only criticisms of the company’s sexualized nature. Currently, many American Apparel advertisements in Great Britain have been banned for depicting overly sexualized, young school girls in their back to school ad campaign.

If these stories sound familiar, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney who may be able to help. Read Jane’s entire story on Gawker.com 

Rare Reverse Racial Discrimination Suit Prevails

largoA former English teacher in Prince George’s County, Maryland, sued the school board for reverse racism because he is Caucasian. Because claims like reverse racism or even racism are hard to prove, it’s always interesting to see such claims in a suit.

The teacher, Jon Everhart, however, had witnesses and documented actions against him that proved his termination was caused by his race. The 65 year old English teacher began working for Largo High School in 2003 and filed a discrimination law suit upon his termination in 2010.

The suit alleged that Angelique Simpson-Marcus, the principal, racially harassed Everhart. She referred to him as “poor white trash” or a “white b—.” Simpson-Marcus began as principal after Everhart had already begun teaching honors English, and when she assumed her position, Simpson-Marcus demoted Everhart to teach a freshman English course. Furthermore, Simpson-Marcus openly told students, teachers, and Everhart that “the only reason a white teacher teaches in Prince George’s County is that they can’t get a job elsewhere.”

Everhart is not the only teacher who has filed a claim against the principal. May of the teachers who were harassed claim it occurred because they supported Everhart.

A jury found that the school board was liable for discrimination against an employee on the basis of race and color. Everhart was awarded $350,000 in compensatory damages because he had experienced high blood pressure and heart problems as a result of the harassment. The judge has not yet decided how much Everhart is entitled to for any back pay and benefits.

Source: Law.com

Beverly Hills 90210…is Getting Sued

bhhsThe principal of the famed high school has filed a federal lawsuit against the school district this week alleging racial discrimination and retaliation. Carter Paysinger, principal of the school since 2010, accused Beverly Hills High School and the school district of harassment and denying job opportunities to himself and his family.

Paysinger claims that the school district purposely leaked information to the social media and media outlets that made his term as principal look corrupt. This was, according to Paysinger, a blatant attack against him, an African American individual. The school district was trying to “destroy Paysinger’s career and reputation.”

Additionally, Paysinger alleges that a wage gap existing between himself and other white administrators. Paysinger’s family members were also demoted within the school and district during his tenure.

Paysinger has a history of conflict with Beverly Hills High School, including an incident from last year where the principal was found running a for-profit summer camp on the Beverly Hills campus. As a result, Paysinger may have failed to report more than $40,000 in hearnings. The school board deemed the project as a violation of ethics and a conflicts of interests.

Paysinger has since been cleared of any charges by the district attorney’s office.