“Iowa judge rejects theory of ‘implicit bias'”

In a much-watched (earlier) lawsuit filed on behalf of a class of up to 6,000 blacks not hired or promoted by the state government of Iowa, a judge rejected a theory that hiring and promotion were tainted by unconscious “implicit” bias. Judge Robert Blink did not find persuasive the expert testimony proffered for the plaintiff’s theories, and said plaintiffs had not identified a particular discriminatory practice responsible for their situation as required by law. He also noted that blacks appeared to fare better in the state employment process than they did in private sector hiring. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller “noted that much of the case involved blacks who were passed over for jobs after sending in applications in which they did not list their race.” [AP/NPR, Des Moines Register]

P.S. Thanks to commenter wfjag for directing our attention to this December AP dispatch with its truly wince-making example of Lead Plaintiff Fail:

The lead plaintiff in a class-action discrimination lawsuit filed by black workers against the state of Iowa is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to using her position at Iowa Workforce Development to carry out a fraud scheme in which she embezzled $43,000 in benefits meant for jobless Iowans. … Her claims have been front and center during the lengthy litigation….


  • A sigh of relief. A court with common sense. Who could have guessed?

  • Of course, it probably didn’t help that after the lead plaintiff was sworn in and stated her name, her answer to every question had to be “On advise of counsel I must decline to answer the question on the grounds that it may tend to incriminate me in a criminal prosecution and therefore I invoke my rights under the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

    See “Plaintiff in Iowa discrimination case charged
    Fraud scheme embezzled $43,000 in benefits meant for jobless Iowans” AP (27 Dec 2011) http://thegazette.com/2011/12/27/plaintiff-in-iowa-discrimination-case-charged/

    Still, that’s not all bad. Maybe she can get a position with GSA. She appears to have relevant job experience.

  • The case relied on the theory of implicit bias, which has received growing interest among employment lawyers after researchers developed the Implicit Association Test to test racial stereotypes. Their work has found an inherent preference for whites over blacks in about 70 percent of Americans, including among many who do not consider themselves racist.

    Which proves conclusively that a Black could never be elected president of the US. Oh, wait…

    The Implicit Association Test is giving junk science a bad name.