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Hostile Racial Environment At Fenway

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

With the Reds playing so well (all alone in first to start the day) it’s easy to be paying attention to baseball. Consequently, I read about what happened last Tuesday at Fenway Park where I otherwise might not have. Many are aware that on Monday night, fans at Fenway Park shouted racist slurs at Orioles center fielder Adam Jones during the game and one fan hurled a bag of peanuts at him. The reaction was swift. The owner of the Red Sox personally apologized. The Mayor of Boston and the Governor of Massachusetts condemned the conduct. An investigation was launched. Boston NAACP President said it is concerning that someone would think they could go to a crowded stadium, use that type of racially charged language, and suffer no consequences. Then the next day fans gave Jones a standing ovation before his first plate appearance.
But it happened again Tuesday night (the night Jones would receive a standing ovation) right after the singing of the national anthem. According to Calvin Hennick, a white Boston Rex Sox fan who was attending the game with his 6 year old son, who is African-American, and his Haitian father-in-law, a “middle-aged white fan” complained aloud that the Kenyon woman who sang the national anthem made it “too long, and she n****** it up.” Hennick was concerned, particularly for his son who was attending his first game. When Hennick turned and asked the man if he really just said that, the man repeated the slur and said “that’s right, and I stand by it.” Hennick reported the incident to an usher and the man was eventually kicked out. Hennick was surprised the man would make these comments to him of all people as he was sitting next to his African-American family. Hennick said, “then I realized that that was the whole point. He wanted to prove that he could say whatever he wanted. It was a finger to the eye.”
There are a lot of parallels between what happened at Fenway Park and what ought to happen at the workplace when conduct like this occurs – bad conduct, bad conduct reported, bad conduct investigated, consequences for the offender. Just a couple of weeks ago the United States District Court for the Second Circuit held that, in the employment context, a single racial slur might provide sufficient basis for a hostile work environment claim under the right circumstances. It seems a no brainer that asking a 6 year old African-American kid who was attending his first ever baseball game to sit next to an adult using the N word and then “standing by it” would have a significant negative impact on that kid.
Boston Red Sox Fan Reports A Racial Slur, And A Lifetime Ban
Red Sox eject, ban fan from Fenway Park for life for racial slur
Boston Red Sox fan reports another for racial slur at Fenway Park
Racial slur leads to fan being banned from Fenway Park

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Race Discrimination At Fox News

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

In addition to the multiple claims of sexual harassment Fox News has been dealing with, a high profile African-American reporter and the only African-American anchor at Fox News, Kelly Wright, last week joined a lawsuit brought by more than 10 employees complaining of systemic race discrimination at Fox News. Wright, an Emmy-winning anchor and an employee of Fox News for 14 years, said at a news conference “The (network) failed to be fair and balanced for all of our employees regardless of race, gender, faith, creed or color.”

It should not be surprising to see the reports of discrimination/harassment mounting. The women who made internal complaints about Bill O’Reilly say they were told by Fox News there was nothing that could be done because it’s Bill O’Reilly so they just had to put up with it. So, a number of employees with legitimate complaints chose to suffer in silence rather than push the issue. Now that employees are seeing some results, they are speaking up.

Of course, “there’s nothing we can do” is simply not the right response to a complaint of discrimination and/or harassment. If you have a legitimate concern that you are being discriminated against or harassed at work, you should investigate your rights. Many companies have policies in place that address discrimination, harassment, retaliation, procedures for making complaints and what is supposed to happen when a complaint is made. You can also consult an employment attorney.

Fox News hit with racial discrimination and harassment lawsuit from

Fox News Anchor Kelly Wright: ‘Indefensible and Inexcusable’ – Variety

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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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Female Law Partner’s Gender Bias Suit Against Her Current Employer Raises Concerns of Pay Equality

Katherine Neff

Kerrie L. Campbell filed suit against her current employer, the law firm Chadbourne & Parke, alleging that she was shut out of leadership positions and paid far less than male partners at her level. According to Ms. Campbell, Chadbourne’s management committee, which determines the compensation for the firm’s partners, is made up of five men, who award male partners more points, which translate into higher dollar compensation, than they do to women. After complaining to the managing partner of pay inequaility, Ms. Campbell alleges that she was told her employment would end at the end of August and her pay was substantially reduced to that of an entry-level associate.
Other women have filed similar suits against their large law firm employers. Last month, Traci M. Ribeiro sued her firm Sedgwick, a large San Francisco based law firm, alleging that the “male-dominated culture” resulted in female lawyers being denied equal pay and equal promotions. Similarly, Kamee Verdrager’s case against her former employer Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsly and Popeo of Boston, is set for trial on her gender discrimination claims. Ms. Verdrager contends that the firm reduced her seniority by two years — which affected her level of pay — then later fired her.
In 2014, Sky Analytics, who provides spend management software to corporate legal departments, released its first ever gender study using actual billing records from law firms. The study, along with a National Association of Women Lawyers study on gender biases in the legal profession, highlighted the pay disparity between men and women. We blogged about these studies in 2014.
Hopefully the publicity surrounding these lawsuits, along with the 2014 studies on gender biases in the legal profession, will empower other women to continue coming forward and motivate law firms to cease their unequal billing practices.
Female Lawyer’s Gender-Bias Suit Challenges Law Firm Pay Practices by Elizabeth Olsonaug of The New York Times. Published August 31, 2016.

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The EEOC’s Landmark Sexual Orientation Discrimination Settlement

Elizabeth Newman Law Clerk at Freking Myers & Reul

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interprets sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Although this position has not always found support in court, the EEOC filed two lawsuits this spring to enforce its interpretation. Jon Allison blogged about it here.

Late last month, the EEOC settled one of these landmark cases. In EEOC v. Pallet Companies d/b/a IFCO Systems, the EEOC alleged that an employee was harassed by her supervisor because of her sexual orientation and that she was fired in retaliation for complaining to her employer. The settlement agreement requires the employer to pay $182,200 in damages to the employee, as well as $20,000 to the Human Rights Campaign.

According to EEOC General Counsel David Lopez, this settlement was the first resolution of a lawsuit challenging sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII. Even though a court did not weigh in on the matter, this historic settlement could indicate that the EEOC’s interpretation is gaining ground. The EEOC received 1,181 complaints of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation last year—a number almost certain to grow. The other lawsuit filed by the EEOC asserting sexual orientation discrimination is still pending in Pennsylvania.

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