Header graphic for print

Employment Discrimination Report

Discussions on Recent Legislation, Noteworthy Cases & Trends in Enforcement

How to Prepare the Best Thanksgiving Turkey

Posted in 5 Minute Laugh

Huh?  Did this become a cooking blog?  No, it’s simply time for the Friday 5 minute laugh.  Chrissie has been diligently looking for a Thanksgiving video and has come across a few gems.  I decided to go with this one because I now have “All About the Bass,” I mean, “Baste” stuck in my head.  I thought I would share my pain. Enjoy this clever parody.


Happy Thanksgiving!


Grooming Policies: A Long-Haired Employee “Cannot Drag His Hair Thru The Food”

Posted in General Employment Discrimination, Title VII

A couple of readers of our blog post yesterday relating to employer dress and grooming policies helpfully added a couple of points about an employer’s legitimate health and safety concerns, which we publish below.

Marc Brenman, a university instructor in Olympia, WA:

“There are also issues of mutable characteristics, and safety. And issues such as the fact that the ability to wear long hair doesn’t mean the employee can drag it thru the food.”

long hair men : Portrait of a smiling and handsome man giving a peace sign isolated on white

Peter Mangles, healthcare exec in Aberdeen, UK:  

“This is a very interesting article about the rules and laws around discrimination and uniform and dress code policies. We have for many years in the health sector dictated to employees and staff about dress codes, uniforms and the wearing of jewelry at work. The wearing of rings, bangles and nail polish has for example been frowned upon and “banned” because of infection control and occupational health and safety reasons.

Shoe and uniform styles are often stipulated and enforced because of potential needle stick injuries and the exposure to blood and other bodily fluids. Depending on an individuals area of expertise other personal protective equipment (PPE) may be necessary that also affects what an individual may or may not wear.

The article was an interesting read in regards to the various precedents set in the courts in relation to grooming and uniform policy enforcement, something to mindful and aware of in the future.”


Is There A Duty To Mitigate Emotional Damages?

Posted in General Employment Discrimination, General Employment Matters, Title VII

Our post the other day about plaintiff/employee’s requirement of mitigating damages in employment discrimination cases drew some good comments, posted below.

But before we get to the comments, we wanted to discuss the duty to mitigate emotional damages.

emotional pain : young white woman sadly sitting with his head propped on his hands Stock Photo

Is There A Duty To Mitigate Emotional Damages?

We previously wrote about a case of apparent first impression in which a court held that that the duty to mitigate does not extend to emotional damages, because while Title VII explicitly requires a plaintiff to mitigate back pay losses, Congress’s deliberate decision not to require such mitigation when it comes to emotional damages means that there is no such duty.

The Court held that the EEOC was not required to prove that groped female employees made reasonable efforts to limit their emotional harm caused by the alleged harassment:   ”Congress’ deliberate decision to carve out this duty to mitigate damages [for back pay losses] clearly signifies that Congress did not intend to create a duty to mitigate all compensatory damages. If Congress intended there to be a duty to mitigate all compensatory damages, it is illogical that it chose to single out the duty to mitigate back pay alone.”

And now to our readers:

Lisa York Bowman, an attorney in the Atlanta area:

This is a great reminder. Plaintiffs often think they can sue and then fly to Vegas. On behalf of employers, I rely on this defense regularly.

William Deveney, also an attorney in the Atlanta area:

“There’s also a good argument that the failure-to-mitigate damages goes to more than just a lost wages claim.

From Faragher: ‘If the victim could have avoided harm, no liability should be found against the employer who had taken reasonable care, and if damages could reasonably have been mitigated no award against a liable employer should reward a plaintiff for what her own efforts could have avoided.’”

Sheila Halliman, an attorney in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area:

It should be noted that mitigating damages can be helpful to the claimant too. It reveals the effort put forth by the victim and the in some cases the difficulty of obtaining similar or better suitable employment.

Dr. Ralph Steel, a professor in the Dallas-Fort Worth area:

“Good post exchanges addressing mitigating damages and how it can be used to defend as well as put forth an employment discrimination case.”




Waddya Mean I Can’t Wear My Diamond Ring To Work?

Posted in Religious Discrimination, Title VII

We have just heard about an apparent controversy at Starbucks over a new corporate dress policy — apparently the policy limits an employee’s right to wear certain types of jewelry, clothing and shoes. 

Under the policy rings may not have stones in them, nose studs must be small and only two earrings per ear are permitted.  

diamond ring woman : Woman showing two hands full of rings

Tattoos cannot be on the face or throat and may not have lewd messages, and hair may not be in bright or “unnatural” colors.

Is all of this legal?  Depends. 

A lot has been written lately about dress and grooming codes.  Indeed, we have done a lot of the writing.  

On its face the Starbuck’s policy appears perfectly legal.  But serious problems may arise in its application, as Abercrombie & Fitch knows (as does the Supreme Court, which agreed last month to hear an appeal by the EEOC of A&F’s ”Look Policy”). 

Grooming/Dress Policies and Title VII

We have written before that although Title VII does not prohibit dress or grooming rules per se, such rules may still violate Title VII if they have a disparate impact on, for example, employees who have religious beliefs which require a certain dress or hair style.   As with most situations involving religious beliefs, an employee must be accommodated as long as this does not cause an undue hardship to the employer.

We cited a few cases to remind us that just because employers have a policy that appears neutral on its face by, for example, prohibiting all employee from wearing or displaying things like tattoos, piercings, long hair, or head scarves, the policy may still run afoul of Title VII’s prohibition against policies which have a “disparate impact” on employees with certain religious beliefs or practices.

tatoo style : illustration of skull decorated with tatoo on white background

With regard to hair styling in particular, a couple of years ago we quoted a Missouri Department of Labor spokeswoman who aptly said that:   

“An employer may condition a job on an employee’s compliance with the employer’s hair styling preferences, unless the employee’s alternative hair styling preference is connected with the employee’s inclusion in a protected category. For example, a particular hair style may be a tenet of the employee’s religion, or the employer may decline to hire a prospective employee because the employee is considered to be disabled because of his or her hair style (such as believing someone without hair to be suffering from cancer).”

We also found a good article on workplace dress codes and disparate gender impact.  The Business Management Daily of June 4, 2012 prefaces its article by noting that “Female employees who are accused of wearing clothing that is too revealing may complain of sexism. Male employees prohibited from wearing shorts, for example, may argue that a double standard exists because females are permitted to wear skirts. But don’t let employees’ complaints prevent you from upholding your company’s appearance standards.  Employers have the right to define appropriate attire in their workplaces.”

The Rules Are Tricky

These rules can get quite complex, as we noted many times, and it is recommended that counsel be consulted before an employer refuses an employee’s accommodation request.

A few cases which we wrote about before are instructive that just because employers have a policy that appears neutral on its face by, for example, prohibiting all employee from wearing or displaying things like tattoos, piercings, long hair, or head scarves, the policy may still run afoul of Title VII’s prohibition against policies which have a “disparate impact” on employees with certain religious beliefs or practices.

We reported about the case filed by the EEOC against Abercrombie & Fitch (noted above) where an Oklahoma jury awarded $20,000 in damages to an applicant for a job after the employer refused to hire her when she appeared for an interview wearing a headscarf, which she wore for religious reasons as a devout Muslim. The employer argued that it had a strict “Look” policy in order to insure a unified “preppy” brand image.

We also noted a Title VII filing by the EEOC against a Taco Bell franchise owner alleging that its termination of a devout Nazirite employee due to his failure to cut his hair was religious discrimination.  Nazirites do not cut their hair as a sign of devotion to God.   The employee had worked for Family Foods for six years without cutting his hair (in fact, he had not cut his hair since he was 15 years old) before the company tried to enforce its grooming policy that required him to cut his hair. 

Occupational Health & Safety  reported that Family Foods entered into a consent decree whereby it settled the case and agreed to pay the employee $27,000, and also to adopt a formal religious accommodation policy, to do appropriate annual trainings on Title VII, and also to post a copy of its anti-discrimination policy at all of its facilities.

These cases had a religious component, and an EEOC attorney commented that “No person should be forced to choose between his religion and his job when the company can provide an accommodation without suffering an undue hardship.”

Without some evidence that there are religious overtones regarding a dress or grooming policy, the results may be different.  

In early 2012, we mentioned an article by Steve Giegerich of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch who reported about an employee with dreadlocks who had been working at a convenience store for four months who was barred from work because his hair violated the employer’s written policy which stated that hair must be “kept neat and clean…immoderate styles… such as corn rows, braids etc. must be approved by a supervisor … dreadlocks and mohawks are unacceptable.”

As Giegerich accurately reported, “policies on the personal grooming habits of employees land on the edge of state and federal employment discrimination laws,” and in all states but Michigan, employers have the right to terminate or suspend any employee who fails to comply with grooming guidelines.

He quoted an EEOC attorney who, agreeing with our analysis above, stated that “The baseline for evaluating grooming policies is to look at their overall burden on different groups of employees.”

Significantly, the reported story noted no sincerely held religious beliefs of the employee regarding his wearing of dreadlocks. Absent any such evidence, it would appear that his wearing of dreadlocks could be prohibited by the employer.


New EEOC End-Of-Fiscal-Year Performance Report

Posted in EEOC Charge of Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Last year at this time, we posted some of the statistics set forth in the EEOC’s annual end-of-the-fiscal-year Performance Report (“PAR”).  See http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/index.cfm.

We have just received the latest EEOC annual report for FY 2014 – and we set forth below the relevant results. See the EEOC web site: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/2014par.pdf

As last year, the EEOC stressed that it “continued to implement its Strategic Plan for FY 2012-2016,” and is implementing its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

metrics : A wooden ruler with the words To Measure is to Know, symbolizing the importance of gathering information when attempting to learn the nature of an object or issue Stock Photo

Many metrics are down from FY 2013 – the EEOC explains this as the “effects of sequestration and the government shutdown.”  Last year there was a similar metric decline, which the EEOC attributed to a “decline in staffing and resources the agency faced in FY 2013, including the impact from furloughs.”    Here are the two years compared:

metrics : Blackboard with Performance Metrics wording Stock Photo


FY 2013:  93,727 private sector discrimination charges of discrimination

FY 2014:  88,778 private sector discrimination charges of discrimination


FY 2013:  EEOC resolved 97,252 charges

FY 2014:  EEOC resolved 87,442 charges


FY 2013:  EEOC recovered $372.1 million in monetary relief for charging parties

FY 2014:  EEOC recovered $296.1 million in monetary relief for charging parties


FY 2013:  EEOC filed 131 “merits lawsuits,” including 89 individual suits, 21 non-systemic class suits, and 21 systemic suits.  And it had 231 cases on its active docket at year end.

FY 2014:  EEOC filed 133 “merits lawsuits,” including 105 individual suits, 11 non-systemic class suits, and 17 systemic suits.  And it had 228 cases on its active docket at year end.



$185 Million Punitive Damages Against AutoZone: How Did They Get There?

Posted in Employee Termination, Gender Discrimination, Retaliation


Let’s just take a moment for that to sink in.  As we reported on Monday, $185 Million in punitive damages were awarded Monday against AutoZone.  This was after the jury awarded $872,000 in compensatory damages on Friday.

You are probably asking yourselves how in the world this happened.  I have to say, based on some of  the press coverage of this case, I was not at first sure.

The basic facts of Rosario Juarez’s claim are these:

Juarez joined the company in 2000 and was promoted to parts sales manager in 2001.  She claims that of 98 stores in the San Diego area, only 10 had female managers.  Juarez alleged that AutoZone had a glass ceiling where women were not promoted to store manager positions.

The complaint says Juarez was finally promoted to the position of store manager in October 2004 — but only after she complained about the discrimination. She then claims that after she informed the company of her pregnancy in November 2005, her district manager tried to encourage her to step down, saying she would not be able to handle the responsibilities of running the store and being a mother at the same time.  Juarez refused to resign and after her son was born in May 2005, she claims she still suffered discrimination.  She again complained of discrimination and was then demoted in February 2006, the suit says. She eventually filed a complaint over the demotion with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in 2007.

Juarez was not immediately terminated after filing the administrative complaint.  Instead, many months (perhaps even a year or more) later, Juarez was fired after a customer service representative allegedly misplaced an envelope with cash from the register, and Juarez was blamed and subsequently terminated in November 2008.  Juarez claims that this was a scheme designed simply to retaliate against her.

All in all, a rather run of the mill pregnancy discrimination claim.  Indeed, a claim that could possibly have been dismissed in some courts as the alleged retaliation took place so long after her complaints.

You can see where this claim went wrong when you dig a little deeper into the facts that came out at trial.  According to ABC News 10, the plaintiff presented the testimony of a former district manager, who was also an ordained minister, who claimed that there was a meeting with high-level executives where they were celebrating the expiration of a previous settlement agreement requiring AutoZone to promote women and to track the promotions.  This former district manager said that he was offered a promotion if he fired all the women at his stores.

Damning evidence to be sure.  It also did not help that the person who investigated the loss of cash that led to Juarez’s firing testified that she never believed that Juarez had taken the cash and felt instead that the company was targeting Juarez.  It probably also did not help that this was not the first time that punitive damages were awarded against AutoZone on similar claims.

33089944_sAutoZone has already announced plans to appeal and it is likely that the punitive damages award, which is 200 times the compensatory damages, will get drastically reduced at some phase in the litigation.  However, this case serves as an example to employers whose top level executives do not fully commit to equal employment opportunity principles.  Even if the actual decision makers in this case legitimately believed that Juarez had taken the cash, the testimony that high level executives held such disdain for women likely torpedoed this case.

Quite simply, when training employees on discrimination policies, companies cannot afford to skip high level executives or to tolerate less than full compliance with the anti-discrimination policies or else they risk arguments by employees that there was a “culture” of discrimination at the company as evidenced by the high-level executives’ behavior.




Volunteer Red Cross Nuns Tossed Out Of Court

Posted in General Employment Matters, Harassment, Religious Discrimination, Retaliation, Title VII

OK, so we engaged in a little Page 6 headline hyperbole – the Nuns were not literally “tossed out” of the court, but just had their discrimination claims  dismissed.  But the case is important, and we wanted to catch your eye.

A major issue for employers these days is whether individuals are employees or independent contractors.  There are serious employment and tax consequences inherent in this distinction.  In that regard, we commend for your edification a new federal appeals court decision which dissected this issue and discussed it at length in the course of an interesting case involving two altruistic Catholic Nuns.  


nuns : Two attractive young nuns with rosary and bible praying

In that case, the two Catholic Nuns were disaster relief volunteers for the American Red Cross and the [Ohio] Ross County Emergency Management Agency for extended periods of time.  As the Court noted, they “dedicated their lives to assisting the poor and serving the good of the community.” 

After some issues with management at both places, they filed a Title VII case (and also claims under Ohio law), claiming religious discrimination, retaliation, and harassment, as well as Section 1983 violations of their constitutional rights to free speech, free exercise of religion, and equal protection under the law.

The issue framed by the Court was:  “Under what circumstances are volunteers protected from employment discrimination by Title VII? … The parties agree that the critical issue is whether the Sisters were ‘employees’ of the Red Cross or RCEMA.”

In summarizing the relevant facts (followed by a long discussion), the Court held that the Nuns “have not shown that they received compensation, obtained substantial benefits, completed employment-related tax documentation, were restricted in their schedule or activities, or were generally under the control of either organization through any of the other incidents of an agency relationship. … Therefore, their volunteer relationship does not fairly approximate employment and is not covered by Title VII. Nor, as will be explained, were the Sisters’ constitutional rights violated.”

The Court goes through all of the relevant factors which distinguish employees from independent contractors, as well as discussing the status of “volunteer.”

Worth a read.



Just Say “NO” — To A Zero Tolerance Policy?

Posted in Uncategorized

Two lawyers who represent employees have responded to our request for comments made in our recent post entitled “Zero Tolerance” And “Broken Windows?” 

And for the most part they are not that keen on the idea of a “zero tolerance” policy, for reasons which they describe below.  But they rightly note that the issues raised are complex.

Richard Seymour, a DC-area lawyer:

“I represent employees complaining of sexually or racially hostile environments, as well as employees accused of harassment. The column seems to me to raise four issues.

Say no : French translation for yes and no speech bubbles

First, many workplace and school behaviors and statements may make some employees or students uncomfortable, but fall far short of creating an actionable hostile environment. The legal standards for hostile environments are high, and many complainants fail to meet it.

The behavior or statements must be (1) objectionable to reasonable persons in the position of the complainant, (2) they must be subjectively objectionable, (3) they must be either severe or pervasive, and (4) they either must be perpetrated by someone with effective authority to make the employer or school responsible for his or her actions, or the employer or school must have earlier known or should have known about the conduct through observation or complaints by the complainant or others and failed to take reasonably adequate preventive action or failed to increase the severity of the actions taken if the earlier steps had not succeeded in stopping the conduct or failed to have an adequate program to prevent harassment or to resolve complaints when they occurred.

This is very far from a knee-jerk standard of legal liability, and it is clear that employers and schools are not insurers against unforeseen bad things happening.

Many complainants and their counsel make the mistake of thinking that employers and schools are insurers against unforeseen bad things happening. This cuts short their case development, stops them form looking into facts that might establish actual legal liability, and leads to a lot of grants of summary judgment.

Second, employers and schools need to be able to impose rules whereby they can stop offensive behavior before it becomes legally actionable. Otherwise, the law would become a strict-liability proscription, and that is far from the model set out by the Supreme Court in the Faragher and Ellerth

Third, the rules employers and schools establish should be reasonable. Phrases like “zero tolerance” lead to mindlessness and enormous loss of respect when blindly applied, as they so often are.   We all remember the six-year-old expelled from his public elementary school because he brought a soldier action figure to “Show and Tell” class, and it had a tiny replica of a gun. The school administrators became the laughingstock of the nation.

Recently, a large number of Harvard Law School professors sent an open letter to the Harvard University community objecting to Harvard’s acceptance of a code of conduct denying elementary process to students accused of sexual misconduct. The code was in fact so tilted towards the accuser that there was no semblance of fairness to the accused.  Harvard claimed it had been bullied into accepting the code by officials of the U.S. Department of Education who had threatened a cutoff of federal funding, and the law professors rightly rejected that excuse as cowardly sniveling. Harvard had a ‘teaching moment’ when it could have stood for the importance of fair processes, and it failed abysmally. Employers face the same risk of injury to reputation.

Harvard students badly needed a ‘teaching moment.’ Students were quoted as saying that only the accuser needs to be protected, that the accused must be condemned, and that nothing should stand between the accusation and condemnation. This is a totalitarian sentiment familiar to those who know the history of totalitarian regimes in the Twentieth Century, and familiar to those who have read Robert Bolt’s play, “A Man for All Seasons,” about Thomas More (St. Thomas More to many of us, but not to the King’s backers).

Fourth, it is not easy to mount a defense for an employee or student unjustly accused. There is no ‘reverse Title VII’ or ‘reverse Title IX’ guaranteeing basic fairness. Each has a contract of sorts, and courts are fond of saying that the covenant of good faith and fair dealing is implied in every contract.

Say no : The Big Debate Concept text on background Stock Photo

Courts unfamiliar with the First Amendment ban on the establishment of religion and that therefore worship at the altar of ‘At-Will Employment’ are fond of saying that the covenant does not apply to at-will employees, because that would interfere with the principle of at-will employment.

It is necessary to find an aspect of employment other than termination to try to bring in that concept, in order to avoid violating such a rule. An employee or student falsely accused sometimes has to rely on sharp differences between the treatment of female and male accusers, or sharp differences in the treatment of male and female accuseds, in order to make a straightforward Title VII or Title IX claim.  

An example is the recent Second Circuit case involving Title IX and a school’s mistreatment of male students accused by a female professor, Papelino v. Albany College of Pharmacy of Union University, 633 F.3d 81 (2d Cir. 2011). The court reversed the grant of summary judgment against the Title IX male student-plaintiffs

Sexual harassment and sexual misconduct are very serious problems, but they have to be tackled with judgment and fairness to all.”


Jon Green, a NYC-area lawyer:  

“I agree with much of Rick’s post (I am a plaintiff’s attorney also). His points were similarly made in an op-ed piece in the NY Times [recently] about higher education’s treatment of sexual assault allegations by female students where victims are treated poorly by clueless educators but at the same time, false accusations are also a real problem.

Zero tolerance does not make sense for a lot of reasons.

First, infrequent light sexual banter or jokes do not make for a hostile work environment.

Second, the banter or jokes not only have to be severe or pervasive but also unwanted. So an employer should not be punishing employees who tell an infrequent dirty joke or make an infrequent sexual remark. We are all human and to have a pristine work place is just unworkable. At the same time, employees should be counseled in a friendly way that a sexualized work place is not acceptable and if it continues or becomes more frequent, then disciplinary action may be necessary.  Ultimately, harassment policies and training, training, training will be the best line of preventing harassment in the work place and lawsuits.

I have more sympathy for zero tolerance (but still do not totally embrace it) regarding racial/ethnic epithets because they are intended to demean and wound people of color or of different national origins. While African-American employees may refer to each other with the N-word in the workplace as part of their everyday vernacular, to me that is inexcusable because it only adds fuel to the haters and creates conditions that lead to polarized work forces and lawsuits.  

Employees who use epithets regarding their own status should be strongly counseled not to use them (while acknowledging that this is their everyday vernacular but not on the job) and if they do it again they will be subject to discipline including termination.

I agree that strict adherence to zero tolerance is counter-productive but at the same time, the best way to avoid destructive lawsuits is training, prevention and to nip issues in their infancy.”



ALERT! Jury Awards Plaintiff $185,000,000 In Punitive Damages On Claim That She Was Demoted After Giving Birth

Posted in Gender Discrimination, Pregnancy Discrimination

Law360 has just reported that a jury in California has awarded $872,000 in compensatory damages and a whopping $185 million in punitive damages (more than was requested) to a plaintiff who claimed gender discrimination and retaliation in that “she was fired after complaining that she was demoted after giving birth.”

money : stack of dollars

The link to the Law360 story is:




Employers: Don’t Forget That Employees Must Mitigate Damages

Posted in Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII

We have written little about the requirement in Title VII (and the other anti-discrimination  laws) that a plaintiff-employee has a duty to mitigate damages.  This may be because many lawyers backburner this issue in their zeal to deal with the merits of a case, or perhaps they ignore (repress?) this issue because it presupposes that the plaintiff has or will prevail. 

Whatever the reason, it can be a powerful weapon for employers to substantially reduce damages if they can show that the employee has failed in this duty.  And oftentimes an expert can be extremely helpful. 

What is the duty to mitigate? 

It is an old legal concept that a plaintiff may not recover damages for any harm that she could have avoided or minimized with reasonable effort.  In employment law, it is generally the rule that an employee who sues for what may be referred to broadly as “wrongful discharge” (although this precise cause of action is not recognized in NY) must show that she has taken all reasonable steps to minimize damages by seeking other employment, or else her damages may be reduced accordingly.

job seeking : 3d people - man, person with magnifying glass searching for job.

The EEOC has stated in a published Guidance that “if the respondent [employer] can prove that the complaining party [employee] failed to exercise reasonable diligence to mitigate his/her damages and could have avoided or minimized such damages with reasonable effort, the damages may be reduced accordingly.”  

However, it is the employer’s burden to show that the employee failed to exercise reasonable diligence to mitigate her damages, and as the EEOC has put it, parsing the relevant caselaw:

– the employer has the burden of showing that the plaintiff failed to make reasonable efforts to find work to mitigate her damages when seeking backpay;  

–  the burden is on the employer to prove, as an affirmative defense, that the employee failed to mitigate damages when seeking lost wages; and

–  the employer has the burden of producing sufficient evidence to establish the amount of interim earnings or lack of diligence in mitigating damages on the part of the plaintiff.

The key when it comes to actual litigation is the notion that the plaintiff has the duty to “mitigate” lost wages by using “reasonable diligence” to seek “substantially equivalent” employment.  But what does that mean?  What is substantially equivalent” employment, and what is “reasonable” when it comes to “diligence” in job hunting, expecially in this iffy economy?

Does a plaintiff have to take any job?  The first job offered?  Any job in her “field?”  Any job in a related “field?”

Does a plaintiff have to show a list of hundreds of prospective employers which she contacted?  And what amount of effort must she show in her “diligent” job search — must she show hours of effort for each job applied for?

job seeking : Several business people wander through a maze looking for a job

As noted above, a lot of lawyers pay little attention to these thorny issues, assuming that the answers to these questions are obvious.  Not so – and the payoff for focusing attention on these issues can be enormous for the client. 

We shall examine this in greater depth in a follow-up post or two.