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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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U.S. Women’s Soccer Stars Fight For Equal Pay

Katherine Neff

On March 31, 2016, five players from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation of paying them less than their male counterparts in violation of the Equal Pay Act.

Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, who are all members of the World Cup championship team, have unsuccessfully tried to negotiate for higher wages through their union. The fact that these players have a collective bargaining agreement, and subsequent memorandum of understanding may have an impact on their Equal Pay Act claims.

The pay disparity between the men’s and women’s teams is astounding. For example, each year, the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams are required to play a minimum of 20 friendly matches. The top five players from the men’s team receive $406,000 in compensation on average per year for these games, compared to the top five women who receive only $72,000. For a World Cup victory, a male U.S. soccer player could earn $390,000, while Lloyd, for example, only earned $75,000 for last year’s World Cup victory. Further, men on the U.S. team earn $69,000 for making the Word Cup roster, while the women only receive $15,000.

Although the men’s World Cup generates more money globally than the women’s event, the U.S. Soccer Federation has forecasted that the men’s U.S. Soccer team will lose approximately $1 million in 2017, while the women’s team will generate a profit of $5.2 million.

We will have to see whether the collective bargaining agreement and/or memorandum of understanding (in which the union agreed to this compensation) will impact the claims alleged by the five players, or if the U.S. Soccer Federation will come to an agreement with the players before either the EEOC or a court weighs in. For more information, read these articles from Forbes, The New York Times and NPR.

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Judges Face Age Discrimination Too

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Judge Peter O’Connell (67 years of age) filed a lawsuit last week in Michigan challenging a Michigan rule that prevents judges 70 years of age or over from running for re-election. The age restriction was put in place in 1955. In 2014, the age restriction prevented 24 Michigan judges from seeking re-election (4% of sitting judges were 70 or older at the time). Currently, judges are the only state employees with an age restriction in Michigan. Last year two joint resolutions were introduced in the State Legislature (one in the House and one in the Senate) that would allow voters to either raise the age restriction to 75 or remove it completely. The Michigan Judges Association supports the removal of the age restriction entirely. The reality is people are living longer and are able to be productive later in life. Age restrictions like this just don’t make sense.  Find out more here.

 

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A New Rule To Address The Pay Gap

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week President Obama proposed a new rule which would require companies with more than 100 employees to provide salary data by race, gender and ethnicity.  Despite efforts to address the problem, a substantial pay gap between men and women (minority women in particular) remains.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission already collects data from larger employers about the racial, ethnic and gender makeup of their workforces.  Collecting pay data will assist in the enforcement of equal pay laws.

 To Shine A Light On Salary Gaps, Obama Wants Companies To Disclose Pay Data

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Historical Hire In NFL

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are historical figures in the NFL and the game yesterday was another good one. Last week though, a woman made history in the NFL. Kathryn Smith became the first woman to hold a full-time coaching position in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills hired her as a special teams coach. Smith began her NFL career as an intern with the New York Jets in 2003. She has spent the last 7 years working with Bills and former Jets head coach Rex Ryan. Ryan said Smith “deserves this promotion based on her knowledge and strong commitment.” Women broke into the full-time coaching ranks in the NBA in 2014.

Kathryn Smith Makes History As NFL’s First Female Full-Time Coach

 

Failing To Identify Gifted African-American Students

In previous weeks I’ve written about various social-science research studies. Here’s another one. A recent national study found that African-American students are put on a gifted track at a much lower rate than white students who have comparable test scores. The researchers in this study looked only at schools with gifted programs so their findings can’t be accounted for by where kids go to school. The researchers found one factor that eliminated the disparity in being identified as gifted – whether the teacher was African-American. The study found that teachers who are not African-American identify African-American students as gifted in reading 2.1 percent of the time compared to 6.2 percent of the time for white students. African-American teachers identify African-American and white students as gifted at the same rate – 6.2 percent of the time. The researchers say that they can’t tell from their study what is causing the disparity. Further study is needed.

To Be Young, ‘Gifted’ And Black, It Helps To Have A Black Teacher

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