Discrimination law roundup

  • Prof. Sam Estreicher proposes safe-harbor rule to overcome disincentives to hiring of costly or risky job seekers [SSRN via Workplace Prof]
  • “Muslim flight attendant for ExpressJet suspended, wouldn’t serve alcohol” [Detroit Free Press, earlier]
  • Profile of lawyer Joel Liberson, who’s talked many cities into suing banks for big bucks under Fair Housing Act [WSJ]
  • “Did the 7th Circuit finally kill McDonnell-Douglas?” [Jon Hyman on “burden-shifting” evidentiary framework in employment discrimination law]
  • U.S. Commission on Civil Rights believes law should defer to religious conscience claims “only to the extent that they do not unduly burden” bans on discrimination [Stephanie Slade, Reason; report with nonpartisan sections written by Lenore Ostrowsky] Anti-discrimination laws as applied to private actors restrict liberty and sometimes force conscience [David Harsanyi, The Federalist] “Massachusetts: Churches may be covered by transgender discrimination bans, as to ‘secular events'” [Volokh]
  • “Unfair ‘Fair Housing’: The new Obama administration policy to ‘deconcentrate’ poverty is a threat to communities” [Howard Husock, City Journal; Kurtz, NRO]


  • “Muslim flight attendant for ExpressJet suspended, wouldn’t serve alcohol”
    There are many many jobs in the airline industry that do not involve service of alcohol. And the airline industry is but a small part of the economy (http://airlines.org/data/, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes532031.htm), with flight attendant much less than 1% of total US employment.

    Law places a burden on employers to make minimal accommodation for employees.
    Why not ask employees to also have a minimal burden. 99%+ of jobs are not flight attendants. Perhaps this person should have sought a job for which her personal scruples did not conflict with basic job description.

    • That’s just it, Gasman. They specifically sought that job knowing full well that alcohol service was a part of it. The attendant in question was looking to pick a fight and cash in on the basis of religious discrimination. It’s unfortunate that the airline fell for that trap. Equally bad, now that’s a job avenue you know will be restricted for Muslims because they can’t be trusted to not pull this stunt.

  • Actually, the woman had worked for the airline for a year before converting to Islam. She did not seek a job where she could claim discrimination, but rather she took the job when the idea of serving alcohol didn’t matter to her.

    According to the Washington Post, when she asked for other flight attendants to serve alcohol in her place, the airline agreed. All was honky dory until another employee complained that the Muslim attendant wasn’t doing the job that she, as a non-Muslim, was required to do.

    The airline agreed with the second employee. As they say: “game on.”


    Frankly, this case highlights the problem that for a company, there is no safe haven when there are competing complaints of discrimination. If the Muslim attendant wins the case, the company is out costs, pay and a penalty. If the non-Muslim wins, the company is out costs, pay and a penalty.

    In the end, the business is caught and can only wait for an arbitrary decision by someone who has never worked in their industry (or most likely any industry) and has no idea how regulations and decisions affect day to day operations of any company. The only people that are not protected from being discriminated against are owners of businesses.

    • Thanks for pointing me in the correct direction Gitarcarver. That makes this even more interesting. I’d still like to see her spanked (in a legal sense!) for throwing such an idiotic tantrum.

      I wonder how airlines like Emirates covers this.