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Employment Discrimination Report

Discussions on Recent Legislation, Noteworthy Cases & Trends in Enforcement

Authorities To (Finally) Investigate Abuse of Henry’s Boys

Posted in Americans with Disabilities Act, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Perhaps this is the coda to the story of Henry’s Boys – perhaps not.

Readers no doubt recall Henry’s Turkey — the poster bird for the abuse of intellectually disabled employees.  We wrote about the legal case on behalf of these disabled employees many times — as recently as last week (see below).

Dan Barry in today’s New York Times reports that four of Henry’s Boys, including the fellow who he spotlighted in the Times last week (and we reported about), were removed from their spare and primitive bunkhouse by social services, “and their treatment is now being investigated by various local, state and federal agencies.”bunkhouse : Oregon - August 1, 2012: An old, weatherbeaten building that served as the main bunkhouse for an old cinnabar mine that is slowly decaying in the Ochoco Mountains in Central Oregon.

Linkhttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/20/us/4-men-in-bunkhouse-in-south-carolina-are-put-in-care-of-social-services.html

The Legal Case Against Henry’s

To recap (hopefully for the last time), on May 3, 2013 we reported about the $240,000,000 jury verdict against Henry’s Turkey Service (later reduced) where:  ”Intellectually disabled workers at Henry’s Turkey Service in Iowa were paid only $65 dollars per month eviscerating turkeys on an assembly line, we posted last September.

In an ADA case brought by the EEOC, an expert witness said that the company exploited the workers because they had intellectual disabilities, and simply did not know better.  She stated that the employer’s conduct “including acts of deliberate misrepresentation” about wages and expenditures, deprived the workers of “economic independence and self-sufficiency.” The company “took advantage of the workers … knowing that they would not likely be discovered because the workers were disabled.”

The NYT’s Description Of The Conditions At Henry’s

Last week’s piece by Dan Barry highlighted one of “Henry’s boys,” who, when he was 18:

“was selected to live and learn basic skills at a ranch in Texas’ Hill Country. The operation, Henry’s Turkey Service, trained Mr. Jones and dozens of other young men like him — including his brother — in the artificial insemination of turkeys: namely, to catch and milk the toms, and rush the semen to the henhouse.

The men became proficient in this dirty job, and a demand developed for their services. Gradually, the company dispatched crews to work at turkey plants in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and South Carolina, moving employees around like chess pawns to meet the needs of clients.

Most of the operations eventually closed, leaving only a bunkhouse in Atalissa, Iowa, where Carl Wayne Jones wound up, and one here in Newberry [South Carolina], where Leon Jones landed.

The owners of Henry’s Turkey Service maintained that they had taken in men whom no one else wanted. They paid them a subminimum wage under a federal law — one they abused — that permits lower wages for people with disabilities, based on productivity. They deducted most of the men’s earnings to cover room, board and other expenses. And they allowed their Atalissa bunkhouse to descend into squalor, neglect and abuse.”

Linkhttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/07/us/separated-from-brother-left-to-toil-far-from-home.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar

 

“Obesity and Disability Following Kaltoft”: UK Lawyers’ View

Posted in Uncategorized

“Employers can give a sigh of relief – or can they?   We have clear confirmation now … that obesity itself is not a protected characteristic.”

Yesterday we published a post Alert about the landmark decision which came down yesterday from the European Court of Justice, with the Court holding that “obese people can be considered as disabled, but stopped short of saying that obesity was a condition that needed specific protection under European anti-discrimination laws.”

Our takeaway yesterday was something short of decisive:  “Let’s take a few days to try and absorb and understand this landmark ruling and it’s impact on US law.”

We now have an instantaneous analysis from employment law experts in the UK –  at least about the impact on UK law.

The bolded quote above begins a very informative piece about the decision and its impact by veteran UK employment lawyers Rachel Crasnow and Sarah Fraser Butlin, published by Michael Rubenstein Publishing.

UK law : British style judge wearing a wig   Isolated on white

Although obesity may not be a protected characteristic, attorneys Crasnow and  Fraser Butlin say nonetheless that “the impairments which result from an overweight employee could give rise to a disability.  In a sense that’s not a very surprising outcome: obesity that means the person cannot fully participate in professional life makes sense as constituting a disability. The interesting bit of the judgment relates to whether a person can do something to ameliorate the effects of the impairment.”

Link:  http://blog.rubensteinpublishing.com/obesity-and-disability-following-kaltoft-by-rachel-crasnow-and-sarah-fraser-butlin/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MichaelRubenstein+%28Michael+Rubenstein+Presents…%29

Takeaway

We are punting a little bit, but perhaps this piece is a good starting point for our discussion of US law.

 

ALERT: EU’s Highest Court Rules On Whether Obesity Is A Disability

Posted in Americans with Disabilities Act

Just today we wrote about obesity in the context of “corporate wellness” programs.  Now comes a long-awaited ruling on obesity by the European Court of Justice – the EU’s highest court.    

On June 12th we posted that the UK Didlaw Ltd. Newsletter declared that “[t]he most pressing issue around definition of disability right now is whether obesity is a disability.”

“With 64% of the UK workforce said to be obese a finding by the European Court that obesity is a disability could have wide-reaching implications. The EAT recently held in Walker v Sita that obesity is not a disability in itself but might be capable of being one if there is a significant degree of functional impairment.”   See also a great article on the subject on the Bristows’ website.

obesity woman : Woman doctor with a medical examination in obese patients

European Court Takes Up Issue Whether EU Law Forbids Obesity Discrimination

On July 20th we stated that “The issue of whether the law forbids obesity discrimination and/or if morbid obesity should be considered a disability may soon be decided.  At least in the EU –  we have just learned that the European Court of Justice’s advocate has issued a non-binding opinion which is likely to be a key factor in the decision.    And the US might not be far behind.”

This issue was taken up by the European Court of Justice in the case of Kaltoft v Billund Kommune, which had to decide whether EU law forbids obesity discrimination and/or if morbid obesity is a disability.

We learned from the Irish Independent that the Court’s advocate general, Niilo Jääskinen, who is an adviser to the Court, had issued a non-binding opinion that EU law sets forth “no general, stand-alone prohibition on discrimination on grounds of obesity,” but that “extreme” obesity, classified as having a body mass index (BMI) of more than 40, may be a disability.

Workplace Savings and Benefits quoted the advocate as saying: “If obesity has reached such a degree that it plainly hinders participation in professional life, then this can be a disability.  The notion of disability is objective and does not depend on whether the applicant has contributed causally to the acquisition of his disability through self-inflicted excessive energy intake.  Otherwise physical disability resulting from reckless risk-taking in traffic or sports would be excluded from the meaning of disability.”

 

The Court’s Ruling Today

According to Reuters, a decision has just been handed down today, with the Court holding that “obese people can be considered as disabled, but stopped short of saying that obesity was a condition that needed specific protection under European anti-discrimination laws.”

Link:  http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/18/eu-courts-obesity-idUSL1N0U20PE20141218

Reuters said that the Court “ruled that EU employment law did not specifically prohibit discrimination on the grounds of obesity, and said the law should not be extended to make it a protected category.  However, the Luxembourg-based court said that if an employee’s obesity hindered “full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers” then it could be considered a disability. This, in turn, is covered by anti-discrimination legislation. …

However, Friday’s nuanced ruling still leaves companies open to potential discrimination suits.”

Takeaway

Let’s take a few days to try and absorb and understand this landmark ruling and it’s impact on US law.

 

 

 

“Time To Lose A Few Pounds”: Is Obesity A Workplace Issue?

Posted in Americans with Disabilities Act, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

“The boss thinks you should lose a few pounds.”  

An article yesterday in the Wall Street Journal by Lauren Weber and Rachel Emma Silverman opens with this line, and then says that “Seeking to make a dent in the intractable problem of obesity … businesses are experimenting with new measures to encourage workers to slim down.” 

Is this really the employer’s business?

Link:  http://www.wsj.com/articles/memo-to-staff-time-to-lose-a-few-pounds-1418775776?KEYWORDS=Memo+to+staff%3A+Time

obesity man : Woman doctor with a medical examination in obese patients

Wellness Programs

We wrote about this in October and said that “As insurance premiums rise, and more companies self-insure, ‘wellness programs’ have emerged to merge the interests of employees in being well and employers in keeping them well and away from the medical establishment.  A vast majority of large companies have, in fact, instituted wellness programs.  They may take the form of weight loss tips and weigh-in competitions, in-office fitness, exercise or yoga programs, ‘healthy choice’ breakfast events to teach about cholesterol or diabetes or processed food, or things like subsidies to join health clubs.”   

Well, as the Journal’s authors note, some programs go far beyond mere discounted gym memberships: “[s]ome are offering employees wearable fitness trackers and competitions on social apps, covering weight-loss surgeries and drugs, and providing mental-health counseling designed to get at the emotions that may underlie eating issues.”

Many other weight-loss techniques and programs are being tried by employers, as the authors describe in detail.

wellness programs : dog as  gym and personal trainer with gold medal lifting a weight , holding a clipboard Stock Photo

 

Why Are Employers Concerned All Of A Sudden?

But why the employer concern for obesity?   The authors respond that:

“At a time when employers have left workers on their own in terms of job security or paying for retirement, the scale of corporate aid and support for weight loss may seem odd.  The numbers explain why.  Getting obese employees to normal weight, or even overweight, would save employers an average of 9% of the money they spend on health care or lose in productivity due to employee sick time.”

Any Legal Risk In Wellness Programs?

Yes, there are legal risks in employers conducting “wellness programs,” although the authors, in our view, give this short shrift at the article’s end, especially given the EEOC’s recent targeting of employer “wellness programs”:     

“As employers become more determined to help their employees lose weight, however, some are drawing scrutiny from regulators concerned that their programs use penalties and rewards so bluntly that participation becomes compulsory. Though other government agencies strongly endorse the use of carrots and sticks, and the Affordable Care Act allowed employers to offer larger incentives, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has brought several lawsuits related to wellness programs and plans to release guidance to employers in February.”

EEOC’s Latest Pronouncement

Law360 today published an interview with EEOC Chair Jenny Yang.  Law360 reported that ”The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sees new regulations that will shed light on how to offer corporate wellness programs without violating federal anti-discrimination statutes as ‘very important’ and will be working hard on them in 2015.”   

Yang said that “That is an area that we think is very important for us, as a commission, to provide guidance on — how the Affordable Care Act interacts with the ADA and other laws such as GINA.” 

Link:  http://www.law360.com/employment/articles/595400?nl_pk=03fa444f-5ac1-4329-814d-34d1f626de74&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=employment

Obesity And The ADA

We have written numerous posts about obesity and morbid obesity – and whether these constitute a disability under the ADA.  (Search the word “obesity” in our blog home page).   For example, last year we discussed whether for ADA purposes obesity is a disease — as was held by a decisison by the American Medical Association.  We posted that the AMA declaration that obesity is a disease would likely spur lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

We wrote that ”we are unaware of any new laws which treat obesity as a protected class, but the AMA’s action last week is sure to inspire a spate of new suits which claim that the disease of obesity is a disability under the ADA — citing the American Medical Association.”  And it came to pass.

Link:  http://employmentdiscrimination.foxrothschild.com/2014/04/articles/americans-with-disabilities-ac/first-decision-upholding-obesity-as-a-disability-under-the-ada/

Our October post explored this possible liability a little more in depth, and we therefore re-print relevant parts here.

These wellness programs may seem selfless, and they very well be, or they may seem calculating and more concerned with costs than employee health – but in the end the result is that they serve an indisputably beneficial purpose and are win-win programs.  

But – and this is a big but — they must be voluntary and must not violate the law. 

How, you may ask, can an employee wellness program, designed to keep employees healthy, violate the law?  And what law?    

Well, for starters, think about the Americans with Disabilities Act, the “ADA.”  It prevents employers, among many other things, from inquiring of employees about health or disability issues.  Starting to see where problems can arise?  (Don’t even mention the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act – “GINA”!).

A new EEOC lawsuit (the EEOC’s second such suit) illustrates how an employer can get into trouble with wellness programs.  The EEOC sued a Wisconsin manufacturer which “required an employee to submit to biometric testing and a ‘health risk assessment,’ or face cancellation of medical insurance, unspecified ‘disciplinary action’ for failing to attend the scheduled testing, and a requirement to pay the full premium in order to stay covered.”

When the employee did not complete the biometric testing and health risk assessment, the company cancelled his medical insurance and made him pay the entire insurance premium. On the other hand, the employees who completed these tasks were not subject to this “penalty.”  

The complaint contends that these requirements were “disability-related inquiries and medical examinations” that were not job-related and consistent with business necessity, defenses under the ADA.  “These alleged actions and severe consequences for not providing prohibited information as part of its ‘wellness program’ violate Title I of the ADA, which prohibits disability discrimination in employment, including making disability-related inquiries.”

An EEOC attorney noted that:  ”Employers certainly may have voluntary wellness programs – there’s no dispute about that – and many see such programs as a positive development.  But they have actually to be voluntary. They can’t compel participation in medical tests or questions that are not job-related and consistent with business necessity by cancelling coverage or imposing enormous penalties such as shifting 100 percent of the premium cost onto the back of the employee who chooses not to participate. Having to choose between complying with such medical exams and inquiries, on the one hand, or getting hit with cancellation or a penalty, on the other hand, is not voluntary and not a choice at all.”

Takeaway

This is only the tip of the “wellness program” lawsuit iceberg, we predict.  And the tip of the controversy surrounding the EEOC’s position.

Before employers go jogging to set up wellness programs, they would be prudent to dust off their employee manuals, revise them as necessary, keep training managers, and LEARN ABOUT THE VARIOUS ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS AND THE NEW EEOC CASES. 

These would be healthy endeavors!

 

 

Voting Ends This Week: OMG!

Posted in General Employment Discrimination, Uncategorized

For the “best blog in show.”

That is, for your favorite blog nominated by the ABA Journal 2014 “LawBlawg 100″ committee in the employment/labor category.

If you like this blog, feel free to click on the orange 2014 LawBlawg badge directly to the right of this sentence and vote!

voting people : Your Vote Counts Button Stock Photo

Takeaway

Thanks to all!

 

$1 “Nominal” Damages But $300,000 Punitive Damages Awarded In Sexual Harassment Case

Posted in Sexual Harassment, Title VII

Punitive damages are generally difficult to obtain.  And under Supreme Court precedent, punitive damages greater than ten times an award of compensatory damages is generally considered “grossly excessive,” raises due process issues, and is likely to be struck down or reduced by a court.

That is what makes a new decision from a federal appeals court so significant – in a Title VII case in which plaintiff recovered $1 in ”nominal” damages the Court awarded plaintiff the full Title VII cap of $300,000 in punitive damages.  Three hundred thousand times the compensatory damages award!

See Arizona v. ASARCO LLC, 2014 BL 346185

money damages : Piggy bank Stock Photo

After an eight-day trial in a sexual harassment case, the jury awarded plaintiff no compensatory damages, but awarded $1 in nominal damages and $868,750 in punitive damages.  The Court applied “the due process analysis in [the US Supreme Court's] BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996), [and] concluded the punitive damages award was not unconstitutional but, given the $300,000 cap on compensatory and punitive damages found in § 1981a(b)(3)(D)[the Title VII damages statute], reduced the award to $300,000.”

The Court examined the elements set forth in the Gore analysis as to punitive damages:  “(1) the degree of reprehensibility of the defendant’s misconduct; (2) the disparity between the actual or potential harm suffered by the plaintiff and the punitive damages award; and (3) the difference between the punitive damages awarded by the jury and the civil penalties authorized or imposed in comparable cases.”

After this analysis, the Court held in the case that:

“there is significant and compelling evidence that management was aware of, and did little to resolve, lewd, inappropriate, and sexually aggressive behavior directed to [plaintiff]; sexually explicit, targeted pictures of [plaintiff] on the walls of the bathroom rented specifically for her use; and overly aggressive management and criticism of [plaintiff]  by supervisors. [Plaintiff]  complained to management multiple times. The sexually explicit graffiti in the bathroom was not removed while she was working in the filter plant.  As the district court correctly noted, to the extent ASARCO did have an antidiscrimination or harassment policy, the existence of such a policy alone is not enough to save it. …

Further, the award is consistent with, and in some cases smaller than, punitive damages awards in other Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 cases we have considered.  … “

“In sum,” the Court stated, ”we conclude that punitive damages awards conferred under § 1981a comport with due process. The statute provides specific notice of proscribed conduct. It specifies the maximum amount of damages that can be awarded, and incorporates both specified compensatory and punitive damages within the cap. The $300,000 dollar amount of the cap provides an extremely limited potential for recovery, and has not changed, nor been adjusted for inflation, since its adoption in 1991. There is nothing in our consideration of the Gore factors that would alter that conclusion. The record supports the district court’s conclusion that the punitive award was made in conformance with the statute and was not otherwise in violation of due process.”

money damages : A fist full of paper money money, dollars, smashing through the background, or wall.

Takeaway

Employers must be aware that under the federal anti-discrimination laws, even if a plaintiff is awarded a truly nominal sum after trial, the employer still may be socked with not only substantial punitive damages, but also reasonable attorneys fees.   All in all not a happy result.

Better to preemptively train your managers and employees well, have a good, solid (and updated) employment manual, and lead from the top down in terms of respect and zero tolerance in the workplace.

 

 

 

“A Bar Too High” And Other Pretexts For Discrimination

Posted in Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Title VII

Reorganization, reduction in force (“RIF”), merger of departments – these are only a few reasons which employers give when firing an employee – and which is frequently alleged to be — and found to be a pretext in violation of Title VII, the ADEA or other anti-discrimination laws.

And also setting a performance bar too high to achieve, intending the employee to fail.  

All employment lawyers – both employee and management side – have encountered these scenarios.

age discrimination : Concept image depicting employment ageism and discrimination for people over fifty. Selective focus on the road text. Copy space.

A new Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) case filed by the EEOC illustrates the nature of such an alleged pretext.  The EEOC claims that Blinded Veterans Association (“BVA”), a non-profit Washington, D.C.-based service provider to blind veterans fired two longstanding employees because of their age.   (NB:  Another example of the EEOC targeting organizations “whose charter is to help people” or “who should know better.”  Readers are hopefully familiar with our many such posts, usually involving the ADA).

Link:  http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/12-12-14.cfm

One 76-year old employee with 34 years tenure was asked repeatedly when he would retire.  When he said that he had no such plans, BVA (according to the EEOC) “announced that it was ‘reclassifying’ certain jobs, including [plaintiff’s], and that he needed to compete for one of the newly-created national field service officer positions if he wanted to remain employed by BVA.  In order to compete for one of the newly created jobs, BVA imposed on Martinez arbitrary and unrealistic requirements.”

A “bar too high to reach,” which led inexorably (and intentionally) to failure, is what this alleged “pretext” might be called, if proved true.

unfair race : You are pushing a flat cube while your competition is pushing spheres marked Them, symbolizing an unfair advantage others have in a race or the game of life, preventing you from success and achiving goals Stock Photo

The second employee, 70 years’ old with 15 years tenure, was asked repeatedly “When are you going to retire?” and “When are you moving to Florida?” 

Refreshing, don’t you think?  At least with the second employee the employer was honest in its age animus — thereby providing the employee direct evidence of age discrimination, without the messy and complicated pretext.

Takeaway

An EEOC attorney said it best:  ”Targeting older workers under the pretext of a reorganization doesn’t fool anyone – it’s clearly age discrimination, and clearly unlawful.” 

 

Church Music Director Alleges Firing Because Of Engagement To Male Partner: Does The “Ministerial Exception” Apply?

Posted in EEOC Charge of Discrimination, Employment Discrimination Based Upon Sexual Orientation, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Gay Marriage, Gender Discrimination, Title VII

A newly filed EEOC charge alleges that The Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, Ill fired its 17-year music director when the director announced on Facebook that he had just become an engaged to his male partner.  This, according to the Portland Press Herald.

See: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/12/06/music-director-fired-by-church-files-claim-for-discrimination/

gay weddings : Closeup of a gay couple holding hands, wearing a wedding ring.  Couple is a hispanic man and a caucasian man.

The director, who alleges sex, sexual orientation and marital status discrimination, stated that he was told that “his same-sex relationship violated the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church.”

The Archdiocese of Chicago declined comment.

An Earlier Case

This case is strikingly similar to one we wrote about last February.

The Boston Globe and Boston.com reported what then may have been a legal first – a case filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) against a religiously affiliated college prep school by a gay man who claimed that his offer of employment was withdrawn after the school discovered that he listed a “husband” as his emergency contact.

The applicant was offered a job as food services director, but claimed that a school official said that “the Catholic religion doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, and that was her excuse.  She said, ‘We cannot hire you.’  If I’m planning and making meals for students, I’m not sure what my being gay has to do with the job. All I did was fill out the form honestly.”

He alleged sex and sexual orientation discrimination.

His attorney said that “There is a balance between important values, which are religious liberties, and discriminatory practices. This is a job that has nothing to do with religion . . . and this weighs toward discrimination.  Religiously affiliated entities do not have a free pass to do as they please in how they treat employees, particularly when it comes to our important laws against discrimination.”

The Ministerial Exception

Both cases involve what is called the “ministerial exception.”

On January 11, 2012, we reported about a significant First Amendment religious freedom decision involving the “ministerial exception” which was decided that day by the Supreme Court, Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Court had before it a teacher in a religious institution who taught both secular subjects and a class in religion. When she threatened to file a charge of disability when a new teacher was hired to replace her, she was fired for insubordination. Her case involved a head-to-head confrontation between First Amendment religious freedom and the anti-discrimination employment laws.

At issue before the Court was the definition of “minister,” because” the “ministerial exception” holds, in effect, that the government should not get involved in internal church affairs involving “ministers,” and therefore courts should not become embroiled in lawsuits involving “ministers.”

The unanimous Court held that the religious institution must be free to choose its own ministers without state involvement: “The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important,” but “so too is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith, and carry out their mission.”

Non-Ministerial Duties

In a post in June 2013, we reported that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati fired a non-Catholic computer teacher in a parochial school allegedly for violating an employment contract requiring her “to conform with Catholic doctrine, which considers pregnancy out of wedlock through artificial means ‘gravely immoral.’”

Did the ministerial exception apply to her and thus permit her firing?

Plaintiff was a female non-Catholic, gay, unmarried parochial school computer teacher. She claimed that she was fired for being pregnant and unmarried.  Prior to trial, the archdiocese lost a motion based upon the recognized “ministerial exception,” since although Plaintiff was a non-Catholic (and thus did not conform to “Catholic doctrine”) she taught only computer classes (and not, for example, religion classes) and was even barred under church rules from teaching religion to her elementary school students.

Therefore, since she did not have ministerial duties in teaching computer classes, the exception did not apply, and a federal jury in Ohio agreed with her and awarded her $171,000 in damages and back pay.

The anti-discrimination laws trumped religious considerations in that case.

With respect to the Massachusetts case in early 2014, a Boston lawyer, Nancy Shilepsky, was quoted as saying that “Our Supreme Judicial Court takes a serious look at issues involving religious liberty and at issues involving discrimination.  They are careful to try to strike the appropriate balance.”

Takeaway

“Balance” and “accommodation” are always key in analyzing religious discrimination cases, or cases where religious practices are involved.

 

“The Motherhood Trade-Off”

Posted in Gender Discrimination, General Employment Discrimination, General Employment Matters, Pregnancy Discrimination

In a New York Times article today variously entitled “Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind,” or “The Flexibility Gap,” the authors write about why working women in the US find it more difficult to return to work after having kids than their European counterparts. 

“The Motherhood Trade-Off,” they sub-title the article, and describe the “lack of family-friendly policies” in the US.   

motherhood career : stressed african american businesswoman in office holding her little girl while talking on telephone

They begin with a young woman in Washington State, and note that “Her story would have played out differently, she said, if she had been living in her native England. Like many European countries, Britain offers a year of maternity leave, much of it paid, and protections for part-time workers, among other policies aimed at keeping women employed.”

They also note that “As recently as 1990, the United States had one of the top employment rates in the world for women, but it has now fallen behind many European countries. After climbing for six decades, the percentage of women in the American work force peaked in 1999, at 74 percent for women between 25 and 54. It has fallen since, to 69 percent today.  In many other countries, however, the percentage of working women has continued to climb.”

Interesting but disturbing reading.  

Link:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/14/upshot/us-employment-women-not-working.html?ref=business&abt=0002&abg=0

In The News … Career Guide For Men About Women And Henry’s Turkey

Posted in Americans with Disabilities Act, Gender Discrimination

Today’s Wall Street Journal “Review” has an interesting lead article by Joanne Lipman entitled:  “Women at Work: A Guide for Men: Even the most well-intentioned male managers can be clueless when dealing with women in the workplace.” 

She says that men could use a career guide about women — she provides an eight point guide — because men “are often clueless about the myriad ways in which they misread women in the workplace every day. Not intentionally. But wow. They misunderstand us, they unwittingly belittle us, they do something that they think is nice that instead just makes us mad. And those are the good ones.”

Linkhttp://www.wsj.com/articles/women-at-work-a-guide-for-men-1418418595

A recent article in the New York Times was entitled “When Women’s Goals Hit A Wall,” by Claire Cain Miller.  She reports on a new study of Harvard Business School alumni which found that “women in business overwhelmingly want high-achieving careers even after they start families. The problem is mismatched expectations between what they hope to achieve in their careers and family lives and what actually happens, both at work and at home.”

career path : Hand and stairs Progress isolated on white background

The study found that “among those working full time, men were significantly more likely than women to have direct profit-and-loss and personnel management responsibility. Fifty-seven percent of men were in senior management positions, compared with 41 percent of women, and fewer women than men said they were satisfied with their careers.”

Link:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/upshot/even-among-harvard-graduates-women-fall-short-of-their-work-expectations.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar

Finally, you may remember the sad case of Henry’s Turkey – an EEOC disability lawsuit filed against Henry’s Turkey Service for abusing intellectually disabled men for years.  We wrote about it a number of times. 

On May 3, 2013 we reported about the $240,000,000 jury verdict (later reduced):  ”Intellectually disabled workers at Henry’s Turkey Service in Iowa were paid only $65 dollars per month eviscerating turkeys on an assembly line, we posted last September.  

In an ADA case brought by the EEOC, an expert witness said that the company exploited the workers because they had intellectual disabilities, and simply did not know better.  She stated that the employer’s conduct “including acts of deliberate misrepresentation” about wages and expenditures, deprived the workers of “economic independence and self-sufficiency.” The company “took advantage of the workers … knowing that they would not likely be discovered because the workers were disabled.”  

The New York Times just did a poignant piece spotlighting one of “Henry’s boys,” who, when he 18:

“was selected to live and learn basic skills at a ranch in Texas’ Hill Country. The operation, Henry’s Turkey Service, trained Mr. Jones and dozens of other young men like him — including his brother — in the artificial insemination of turkeys: namely, to catch and milk the toms, and rush the semen to the henhouse.

The men became proficient in this dirty job, and a demand developed for their services. Gradually, the company dispatched crews to work at turkey plants in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and South Carolina, moving employees around like chess pawns to meet the needs of clients.

Most of the operations eventually closed, leaving only a bunkhouse in Atalissa, Iowa, where Carl Wayne Jones wound up, and one here in Newberry, where Leon Jones landed.

The owners of Henry’s Turkey Service maintained that they had taken in men whom no one else wanted. They paid them a subminimum wage under a federal law — one they abused — that permits lower wages for people with disabilities, based on productivity. They deducted most of the men’s earnings to cover room, board and other expenses. And they allowed their Atalissa bunkhouse to descend into squalor, neglect and abuse.”

It’s a sad, sad story, made personal.

Link:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/07/us/separated-from-brother-left-to-toil-far-from-home.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar