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The Sexual Harassment Factor

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

No doubt almost everyone is aware that Bill O’Reilly and Fox News parted ways last week following new allegations of sexual harassment. This happened less than a year after Fox News had to get rid of Roger Ailes for the same reason. The New York Times published an article on April 1 detailing a series of sexual harassment allegations against O’Reilly and how Fox News and its parent company repeatedly stood by O’Reilly and paid out tens of millions to settle with the women who complained. In fact, Fox News settled two of the sexual harassment cases against O’Reilly after Ailes left. It also extended O’Reilly’s contract. Women at Fox News questioned whether the company was serious about creating a different culture as it had promised last year following the Ailes scandal. Those questions still remain.

What drove O’Reilly out was most likely dollars rather than a desire to do the right thing. A month ago, there were at least 30 nationally broadcast commercials each night on “The O’Reilly Factor.” In the weeks following the article, most major brands withdrew all advertising dollars from the program.

For his part, O’Reilly (and Ailes for that matter) has denied all of the allegations. But consider this. The women who made the allegations against O’Reilly worked for him and/or appeared on his show. If there was a place to advance your career, his show was it. Yet many still complained, even though they feared it could ruin their careers.

The Ailes and O’Reilly fiascos should result in corporations taking the issue of sexual harassment more seriously. As an employment attorney I’ve consulted with many women who told me of sexual harassment but were concerned that if they complained they would suffer retaliation. Hopefully after these two high profile men were forced out, more women with legitimate complaints will be willing to come forward and more employers will address the concerns appropriately.

Bill O’Reilly Thrives at Fox News, Even as Harassment Settlements …

Why Was Bill O’Reilly Really Fired? – The Atlantic

Bill O’Reilly Is Forced Out at Fox News – The New York Times

 

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The Increasing Diversity Of Federal Judges Under President Obama

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week the first topic discussed in the third presidential debate was the Supreme Court. Moderator Chris Wallace pointed out that the next President will potentially make several appointments to the Supreme Court. In fact, Presidents are responsible for nominating the lower level federal judges as well. There are 13 courts of appeals and 94 district courts. During his time in office, President Obama has made diversity on the federal bench a priority. His belief is that a diverse judiciary helps ensure fair and just administration of the law and engenders public confidence in the court system. Consequently, his nominees have been diverse. This is the first time in history the Supreme Court has had three women on the bench. In fact, only 4 of the 112 Justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court have been women and Obama appointed two of them. Obama has appointed several hundred judges. In all, 42% of the judges appointed by Obama are women. By way of contrast, 22% of judicial appointees under President George W. Bush are women. 19% of the judges appointed by Obama are African American. Under Bush it was 7%. 11% of Obama’s appointments are Hispanic. Under Bush it was 9%. 7% of Obama’s appointments are Asian-American. Under Bush it was 1%. President Obama has appointed 11 openly gay judges. Only 1 had ever been appointed before (by President Clinton).
How Obama Transformed the Federal Judiciary
The number of white dudes becoming federal judges has plummeted
This is the First Time Our Judicial Pool Has Been This Diverse

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Ohio’s Minimum Wage Going Up

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

On January 1, 2017 the minimum wage in Ohio will increase from $8.10 an hour to $8.15 an hour. Ohio employers with gross receipts of more than $299,000 must pay Ohio minimum wage.  Ohio employers with gross receipts of less than that must pay federal minimum wage which is currently $7.25 an hour. Back in 2006 voters in Ohio passed an amendment to Ohio’s Constitution tying the minimum wage in Ohio to the rate of inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index. With the election coming up and because federal law trumps state law (pun intended), it’s worth a look at the positions of the presidential candidates on the federal minimum wage. Clinton is in favor of raising the federal minimum wage to $12.00 an hour. An Ohioan working 40 hours a week would see an increase in yearly earnings from $15,080 (which is below the poverty threshold for a family of at least 2) to $24,960. Trump has recently voiced support for raising the federal minium wage to $10.00 an hour which would result in yearly earnings of $20,800.

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Chicago’s Physical Ability Test For Paramedics Discriminatory

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit overturned a lower court decision and ruled that a physical ability test used by the city of Chicago in hiring paramedics was discriminatory because it had a disparate impact on female applicants. Over the course of 10 years 800 men and 300 women took the test. 98% of men passed while only 60% of women passed. The significantly lower passage rate for female applicants would not be problematic if the test actually measured ability to do the job. The Seventh Circuit found that it did not.
Rather, the test was significantly more difficult than the physical demands of the paramedic job. The Court found that the “lack of connection between real job skills and tested job skills is, in the end, fatal to Chicago’s case. Thus, the plaintiffs should have prevailed on their Title VII disparate impact claims.” While there is nothing wrong with using tests in the hiring process, employers should take care to use tests that actually measure the ability to do the job.

Female Paramedics Win Chicago Gender Bias Case
Ernst v. City of Chicago | Justia U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Court rules Fire Dept. paramedic test discriminates vs. women
Ernst v. City of Chicago

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The First Muslim Federal Judge?

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

We have never had a Muslim federal judge in this country. That could change. Last week President Obama nominated Abid Qureshi, a lawyer with the firm Latham & Watkins, LLP, to serve on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Qureshi was born in Pakistan. He graduated from Cornell University in 1993 and from Harvard Law School in 1997. He has spent his entire career with Latham & Watkins and it has been a distinguished career to date. His colleagues describe him as a brilliant lawyer and an exceptional nominee. Kathryn Ruemmler, former White House counsel and current colleague of Qureshi, said “having judges who are reflective of the nation as a whole just brings public confidence into our court system.” Farhana Khera, executive director for Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy group, said “a judiciary that reflects the rich diversity of our nation helps ensure the fair and just administration of the law, and it is vital for American Muslims to be included.” Muslims have served as judges in state court, but never in federal court. President Obama has made judicial diversity a priority in his administration and has appointed 138 women and 120 minorities to federal judgeships. The Senate now has to decide whether to confirm the nomination.

For more on the nomination follow these links:
President Obama Nominates Abid Riaz Qureshi to Serve on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Abid Qureshi, Nominated By Obama, Would Be First Muslim Federal …
Obama Nominates First Muslim to Be a Federal Judge
President Obama picks the first Muslim nominee to be a federal judge …

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