Jon Allison’s Monday Blog
Amelia Boynton Robinson passed away last week at the age of 104. She was one of the leaders of the voting rights movement that resulted in the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Boynton Robinson had worked to register Southern African-American voters since the 1930s. She ran for Congress in 1963. She was the first African-American woman ever to do so.
She was an organizer of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to demand the right to vote. On March 7, 1965, hundreds of African-Americans were marching and attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. There they were met by Alabama state troopers armed with tear gas, billy clubs and whips.
Boynton Robinson was near the front of the line. She was knocked unconscious and hospitalized. Nearly 20 others were hospitalized as well. A photograph of Boynton Robinson following the attack appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world in 1965. News coverage of “Bloody Sunday” was deemed instrumental in garnering support for the civil rights movement.
Just 5 months later, on Aug 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the federal Voting Rights Act into law. Boynton Robinson was a guest of honor at the signing.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Amelia Boynton Robinson, activist beaten on Selma bridge …
Amelia Boynton Robinson, civil rights matriarch, dies at 104
Amelia Boynton Robinson, a Pivotal Figure at the Selma …
Jon Allison’s Monday Blog
Jon Allison’s Monday Blog
Last week for the first time women graduated from the Army’s Ranger School. Two women graduated – Captain Kristen Griest, 26, a military police platoon leader, and 1st Lieutenant Shaye Haver, 25, an Apache attack helicopter pilot. 19 women entered the training. 94 men made it out of 380 that entered training.
Ranger School was opened to women for the first time this past April as the Army assesses integrating women into more positions in combat units. It is one of the toughest tests the military has. It requires performing a number of physically and mentally challenging tasks under difficult conditions with little food and sleep. It takes a couple of months to complete Ranger School if all tests are passed on the first try. Many take longer to complete the training. Of the 96 in Griest’s and Haver’s class, 40 went “straight through” and the rest repeated portions of the course. Last year 4,057 attempted the course and 1,609 graduated.
There are additional tests that those who made it through Ranger School still have to pass to join the 75th Ranger Regiment. The 94 men who completed Ranger School can continue on. The 2 women can’t because the Ranger Regiment remains male-only. That may soon change.
In January of 2013 then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey signed an order eliminating numerous limits on women’s service in the military and ordering a quarter-million jobs open regardless of gender. The military was also ordered to engage in a review of requirements for combat jobs and make any arguments in support of keeping certain jobs closed to women by January of 2016. Standards were not to be reduced.
The Navy and Air Force have few jobs closed to women. The Army and Marine Corps still have numerous positions that remain closed to women which often involve fighting in small units on the front lines and doing physically grueling tasks. The military is completing their reviews and will make any arguments to Defense Secretary Ash Carter in the coming months.
It appears that most if not all jobs that remain closed to women may open. There remain deep divides over the wisdom of this. Some believe if you can meet the established standards then you should be allowed to have the position. Others believe despite that, there are still reasons to leave some jobs closed to women.
For more on this topic see . . .
The Washington Post Editorial Board: Let women serve in elite military units
Last week a Lowe’s Home Improvement delivery driver in Danville, Virginia was told he could not make a delivery because he is African-American and the customer did not want a black person on her property.
Marcus Bradley has been employed with Lowe’s for 11 years. He and Alex Brooks, a long-time coworker who makes deliveries with Bradley, were in their truck on the way to make the delivery when their manager called and told them to come back. Their manager told them that the customer had given specific instructions that she didn’t want a black employee making the delivery. Both were shocked, but they turned the truck around and went back. Brooks, who is white, refused to get back in the truck and make the delivery without Bradley. Another white driver made the delivery.
Upon learning of the situation, Lowe’s terminated the manager involved and apologized to its employees. Lowe’s also issued a statement saying “Under no circumstances should a discriminatory delivery request be honored as it is inconsistent with our diversity and inclusion core values and the request should have been refused.” The homeowner who made the request said “I got a right to have whatever I want and that’s it,” and “I don’t feel bad about nothing.”
Even where a company has policies against discrimination, managers still make discriminatory employment decisions. Follow this link to read more.
14-Year Employee Terminated After Background Check Reveals 1990 Misdemeanor
BMW is going to trial soon on the issue of whether it violated employment discrimination laws when it used criminal background checks at its Greer, South Carolina plant that had a disparate impact on African-Americans. The background checks were completed in 2008. After reviewing the background checks 88 employees lost their jobs. 70 were African-American and many had been employed for years. One was terminated after 14 years of employment because her background check revealed a misdemeanor from 1990 with a fine of $137.
Additional information can be found here.
In my most recent blog, I described a problem with Ohio law that has a significant negative impact on low-wage workers and prevents many of them from realizing the promises of state laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Low-wage workers attempting to use federal law to confront discrimination face similar barriers. So how about some good news?
There is a new nonprofit in Cincinnati dedicated to advocating for the rights of low-wage workers – The Cincinnati Workers’ Rights Project. The mission of the Cincinnati Workers’ Rights Project is to advocate for low-wage workers, to educate them regarding their rights and to provide pro-bono advice to workers who have been terminated from their jobs.
The Project advocates for low-wage workers in multiple ways, including promoting social and political change that will improve the lives of low-wage workers. Its primary focus is on educating individuals via pro-bono 30-60 minute post-termination consultations with the Legal Director, law students working under the direction of the Legal Director, or volunteer attorneys. The Project also offers preliminary representation and referrals to volunteer attorneys in appropriate cases.
Follow this link to the Cincinnati Workers’ Rights Project’s website. You can reach its Executive Director/Legal Director, Ann Koize Wittenauer, at 513-592-2318 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having just finished up a jury trial where the plaintiff won a wrongful termination claim and was awarded lost wages and compensatory damages, the timing seems right to discuss attorney fees under Ohio law in employment cases. Under Ohio law, attorneys who take on cases where an employee was wrongfully terminated must first prove the discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation. If they are successful in doing so, in order to have a chance at being paid for their work without taking some percentage of the employee’s award of lost wages and compensatory damages, they must prove separately and by a higher standard of proof that the employer not only discriminated, harassed and/or retaliated, but that it did so maliciously and should be made to pay a punitive damages award. Only after the attorney proves that punitive damages are appropriate, is there an opportunity to be paid for the legal work under Ohio law, but there is still no guarantee.
The problem with this scheme is that it operates as a huge disincentive to take on cases for minimum wage or other low wage workers. An attorney could win trial after trial for minimum wage workers and not be able to pay the bills to keep the law firm going. Low wage workers are the ones who are most vulnerable to wrongful conduct on the part of their employers. Most plaintiff’s employment attorneys want to devote time to help these low wage workers. Ohio says don’t.