REASON PREVAILS…

We’re not going there. We’re just not. In a decision that should make us all breathe easier, the Ninth Circuit has held that it is not discriminatory to refer to a woman with children as a “mom.” The plaintiff had applied unsuccessfully for several promotions and contended that the employer’s bias was shown by his referring to her as a “mom.” The court found that the employer had sufficiently demonstrated legitimate reasons for rejecting the plaintiff, and said that another negative term would have to be paired with “mom” to show bias.

Porn dogg. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Connecticut, New York, Vermont) is allowing a plaintiff to take sexual harassment and retaliation claims to trial. The plaintiff alleged that her boss, a professor at Fordham University, watched pornographic videos for hours at a time and required her to handle the videos. He also allegedly accessed pornographic websites on her computer. When she complained to the university, she contends, no action was taken . . . except against her.

Well, at least now we know why yours truly is such a slob. A federal court in Pennsylvania dismissed a race harassment case in which the plaintiff, an African-American account executive, and his fellow account executives, were given copies of the book “New Dress for Success.” The book contained some ethnic references, including that African-Americans selling to whites should avoid wearing Afro-centric clothing or styles, that Hispanics should avoid pencil mustaches and hair products that look “greasy or shiny,” and that Irish-Americans consider excessively neat, “sharp” dress to be a sign of dishonesty. After receiving a copy of the book, the plaintiff returned to the office only once – to gather his belongings and submit a letter of resignation.

REASON FLAILS…

Imagine the stridulous sound of fingernails scraping a blackboard. While waiting for Congress to enact ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits sexual orientation and related forms of discrimination) or something similarly dramatic, the EEOC seems to be struggling for a raison d’etre. Several months ago, it launched a campaign against “family-status discrimination,” which seemed to be nothing more than an attempt to put a fresh face on the old sex and pregnancy discrimination laws, and the FMLA. Now the agency is putting out anti-discrimination public service announcements featuring jazz artist Wynton Marsalis. Our admiration for Mr. Marsalis’s musical gifts, as well as our opposition to employment discrimination, are unequalled, but his script (which he surely didn’t write) actually requires him to say, “Some people play a cacophonous tune called discrimination.” Couldn’t the EEOC have used our tax dollars to hire a scriptwriter? Woops— they’re on strike. Never mind.

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