- Employee with (per Costco) history of “serious misconduct and insubordination” wins $750K after being fired for speaking at too loud a volume, the result she said of deafness-related difficulty in modulating her voice [Jon Hyman]
- “Now What? Disciplining an Employee with a Suspected Addiction or Substance Abuse Issue” [Dale Deitchler and Jeffrey Dilger, Littler]
- ADA: “6th Circuit says full-time work is not an essential function of every full-time job” [Jon Hyman] “So, you want to change the essential functions of a particular job, do you? Let’s talk ADA.” [Eric B. Meyer]
- “Our group member has a fragrance sensitivity – and we’re supposed to be hugged to check for any scents” [Alison Green, Ask a Manager via Hyman]
- “Is the sexual harassment “groundswell” starting?” [Robin Shea, Constangy; state agency volume] “Bracing For The Deluge Of EEOC Lawsuits” [Gerald Maatman, Seyfarth Shaw; EEOC filings rise]
- “Why Doesn’t Diversity Training Work?” [Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev, Anthropology Now; related, Amy Alkon (counterproductive “privilege checking”)]
- Arbitrator orders Oregon town of West Linn to pay $100,000+ to cop fired after incendiary, racially charged Facebook posts [Everton Bailey Jr., Oregonian]
- Protected class designation as departure from viewpoint neutrality: D.C. council proposal would make support for (but not opposition to) abortion a discrimination-law protected category in health care employment [Abortion Provider Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2017, Bill 22-0571, via Katie Glenn, Washington Examiner]
- You’ve heard of space junk, here’s statutory junk [David Schoenbrod, Cato Regulation magazine]
- “The Regulation of Language”: “countries that adopt a planned order approach to language, also do so in their law, and similarly rely on a planned order approach in their economy” [Yehonatan Givati, Journal of Law and Economics forthcoming/SSRN]
- “You typically don’t think of pizza chains as being recipients of government bailouts, but in a sense, that’s what happened here.” [Dan Lewis, Now I Know, cheese promotion]
- Federal judge in Southern District of Mississippi wants race and gender hiring set-asides for legal work in receivership case, which is not fair to victims of Ponzi scheme whose interests are under care [Scott Greenfield]
- Trademark claims on “Ruby Tuesday,” who can hang a name on you? [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
I’ve got a piece up at the Weekly Standard on yesterday’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, on which a Supreme Court uniting 7-2 on result — but split five ways as to particulars — found the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to have operated unfairly, thus managing to dodge a substantive decision about the limits of forced expression. “Next time you run this process, skip the religious animus” is not the same as proclaiming a First Amendment right for the baker to turn down the wedding, though it may convey a significant message for the future in its own right.
More commentary: Ilya Shapiro (“the real action is foreshadowed by the concurring opinions”), Eugene Volokh (“will have little effect on other such same-sex wedding service provider cases, especially when government commissioners realize they shouldn’t say more about religion than is necessary”), John Corvino (opinion could put a brake on “rushing to dismiss our opponents as ‘despicable'”), David French (Kennedy’s emphasis on comparing the case with cake inquiries that offend other bakers bodes well for religious service providers), and Richard Epstein (“the worst kind of judicial minimalism”; what does the not-yet-legality of gay marriage at the time have to do with anything? and can Colorado reopen the case?), and earlier here. And you can listen to my guest appearance yesterday on the popular Clarence Mitchell IV (C4) show on Baltimore’s WBAL.
- Women-only co-working space in Washington, D.C. is packed with amenities. But is it legal? [Ally Schweitzer, WAMU]
- Hurry up and cert: Ninth Circuit en banc rules that use of past salary history violates federal Equal Pay Act [Reuters/KFGO; Marcia McCormick, Workplace Prof]
- Justice Ruth Ginsburg talks down idea of passing new laws in response to #MeToo harassment scandals: “We have the legal reforms — we have had them for a long time….The laws are there and the laws are in place; it takes people to step forward and use them.” [Jeffrey Rosen interview, The Atlantic]
- “No Fingerprinting as a Religious Accommodation? Yes, Says Court” [Daniel Schwartz]
- “Equal Pay Day Should Be in January” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato] “Mythbusting Paid Leave Statistics” [same] “Women who have their first child before 25 or after 35 eventually close the salary divide with their husbands,” but new moms between 25-35 don’t [Claire Cain Miller, New York Times] “When factors such as experience, industry and job level were taken into account, women earn 97.8 cents for every dollar earned by their male peers for doing the same work.” [Stephen Miller, SHRM] More: Tyler Cowen;
- “A waiter was fired for being combative, aggressive and something of a bully. His defense? He’s not rude. He’s French and his former bosses are discriminating against his culture and heritage.” [Laura M. Holson, New York Times via Twitter]
Both ironic and disturbing: rejecting a First Amendment defense, a New York court says city and state public accommodation law may forbid the left-wing National Lawyers Guild from turning down (in line with its position favoring an Israel boycott) an attempt from a group based in West Bank Israeli settlements to buy an ad in its awards banquet program [Eugene Volokh]
The Stanford law professor has penned “Dressmakers, Bakers, and the Equality of Rights” for the forthcoming volume “Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights, and the Prospects for Common Ground” (William N. Eskridge, Jr. and Robin Fretwell Wilson, eds. 2018). [SSRN, Volokh] Abstract:
Using recent examples involving dressmakers refusing to create designs for the First Lady at the Trump inauguration, this paper explains why Masterpiece Cakeshop should be decided in favor the baker who refuses to create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony, and why this should be understanding as an equality of rights, rather than prioritizing free speech over nondiscrimination.
Earlier on Masterpiece Cakeshop here.
Gabriel Malor summarizing this Eugene Volokh post: “An age discrimination suit against Dick’s for refusing to sell long guns to individuals between age 18 and 21 looks like a winner in Oregon, where it is lawful for an 18 year-old to purchase one and which has heavy-handed public accommodation laws.”
An Oregon appeals court has upheld the oppressive $135,000 fine levied on bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein, who turned away a gay couple’s wedding cake order [Whitney Woodworth, Salem Statesman-Journal] As I observed two years back, the use of ruinous fines to punish non-ruinous conduct is a wider problem in our law, not just here. The Oregon court did reverse one state finding related to the Kleins’ supposed announcement of a future intent to discriminate, to which I and others had taken particular exception.
As my colleague Roger Pilon put it about the Colorado case, “If there is intolerance here, it is from those who would force a man to choose between his religious beliefs and his livelihood.”
- Cakes and coercion: “Endorse the state’s right to coerce speech or conscience and you have ceded a principle that can so easily come back to haunt you.” [Andrew Sullivan, New York mag] “The legal course has some advantages. You can use state power, ultimately the barrel of a gun, to compel people to do what you think is right.” [David Brooks] Yes, courts have often found a constitutional right to discriminate, so scratch that Masterpiece Cakeshop talking point [Eugene Volokh]
- Fugitive Kentucky lawyer and disability-fraud king Eric Conn arrested in Honduras [Bill Chappell/NPR, earlier here and here]
- As White House belatedly consults, heeds seasoned counsel, lawsuits against travel ban begin running out of steam [Ilya Shapiro, The Hill]
- Cheers for restoring schools’ discretion to serve 1 percent chocolate milk, USDA, and next bring back whole milk [Stephanie Ebbs and Erin Dooley/ABC News, earlier]
- Court hears oral argument on sports betting and state commandeering case Christie v. NCAA [Ilya Shapiro/Cato, Jacob Sullum, earlier]
- At recent federal court showdown with Waymo, things went from bad to worse for Uber’s lawyers [Cyrus Farivar, ArsTechnica]
“On the Left, some pine for a hard-line opinion that claims of religious liberty or free speech can never, ever provide an excuse for discrimination. But it’s not just the Alitos and Clarence Thomases who would oppose that outcome. All four liberal justices yesterday gave indications that even if they would not draw the line on compelled speech *here*, they would draw it *somewhere*.” My take on yesterday’s oral argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is up at the New York Daily News.
The principles of free contract and association and the wrongness of compelled expression and participation will endure whether or not SCOTUS sees its way clear to recognizing them in this case. Earlier; Roger Pilon (“If there is intolerance here, it is from those who would force a man to choose between his religious beliefs and his livelihood”); Ilya Shapiro; Cato’s brief; Erica Goldberg. And I’m quoted in Brandon Ambrosino’s Washington Post coverage of the case (“the lasting influence is not primarily which side wins, but where to draw the line between what is and is not expression”) and by Chris Johnson in the Washington Blade (““Neither side [on the Court] wants to inflict a culture war on the country; they’re trying to work out something without culture war.”)