Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

NYC: products and promotions in commerce must be sensitive to protected groups

The New York City Commission on Human Rights, which not long ago declared an employer or landlord’s use of the term “illegal alien” to be a form of illegal discrimination punishable by a fine of up to $250,000, is now negotiating with companies to obtain legal remedies over promotions and product designs it deems insensitive to protected groups. Among its targets have been fashion lines Prada, Gucci, and Christian Dior, over displays and designs charged with having referenced blackface or “perpetrated Native American stereotypes.” [Vanessa Friedman, New York Times] Robby Soave, Reason:

Prada’s signed agreement with the commission is incredible. The company will put all New York store employees—and company executives in Milan—through racial sensitivity training. Prada will also appoint a diversity and inclusion officer, subject to the commission’s approval. This person will be tasked with “reviewing Prada’s designs before they are sold, advertised or promoted in any way in the United States,” according to the terms of the agreement.

ADA and disabled rights roundup

Wave of ADA suits over retailer gift cards lacking Braille version

Over a period of eight days last fall, four law firms and associated clients who had earlier filed hundreds of web accessibility suits in New York launched a new wave of more than 100 putative class actions charging that retailers are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by offering gift cards but failing to provide Braille versions. [Minh N. Vu and John W. Egan, Seyfarth Shaw]

Typically, according to the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY), “a successful plaintiff in [a local web accessibility] settlement will receive only $500 per case, but attorney’s fees average many times that amount, approximately $16,000 per case or more, depending on the law firm, the court and other factors, thereby giving plaintiff’s lawyers ample incentive to file as many cases as possible.” One attorney has made about a million dollars a year this way over eight years. “The targets selected by plaintiffs in this new wave run the full gamut of retail establishments, including big box retailers, grocery stores, movie theaters, restaurants, clothing brands, and online gaming and other services.” [Ryan P. Phair, M. Brett Burns & Torsten M. Kracht, Hunton Andrews Kurth]

Wage and hour roundup

  • “Bernie Sanders and Bad Justifications for Minimum Wage Hikes” [Cato Daily Podcast with Ryan Bourne and Caleb Brown]
  • Oregon senator wants to give CEOs a pay incentive to automate, contract out, or otherwise eliminate low-compensation jobs faster than they would otherwise [Hans Bader]
  • “Mayor Pete Wants To Destroy the Gig Economy in Order To Save It” [Nick Gillespie on Buttigieg plan to limit independent contractor status] More on California independent contractor battles [Federalist Society podcast with Bruce Sarchet, earlier here, etc.]
  • Not many states do this: “New York State Passes Bill Allowing Employees to Place a Lien on Employer’s Property For Accusation of Wage Violations” [Employers Association Forum]
  • With hand-made tortillas no longer economic, the Upper West Side restaurant began going downhill [Jennifer Gould Keil, New York Post]
  • The myth of stagnant real wages [Scott Sumner]

November 20 roundup

Some election results

* As expected, Democrats took over both houses in the Virginia legislature, sweeping the D.C. and Richmond suburbs where they successfully nationalized the issues. Virginia has been a badly gerrymandered state, which figured as an issue in the campaign. Now that they are fully in charge of the process, Virginia Democrats will need to decide whether they actually believe in moving toward neutral and impartial redistricting methods that take the power of line-drawing out of the hands of interested parties.

* New York City voters overwhelmingly approved a proposal to adopt ranked choice voting (RCV) in primary and some other elections. While I know this isn’t a universally shared view, I see a lot of merit in ranked choice voting and look forward to seeing more large jurisdictions experiment with it.

* Jim Hood, whose doings as Mississippi Attorney General have long furnished grist for this blog, looks to have fallen short in his bid for Mississippi governor.

* The “crime victims’ rights” package known as Marsy’s Law was on the Pennsylvania ballot. My piece on why it’s a really, really bad idea.

Protecting (and hiding the ball on) cops gone wrong

The city of Phoenix quietly erases police misconduct records: “The practice, which the Department refers to as ‘purging,’ has been standard for more than two decades under the police union’s contract, but the public has been unaware of it.” [Justin Price, Arizona Republic; Tim Cushing, TechDirt]

Although the Supreme Court’s Brady doctrine requires prosecutors to inform defense counsel of evidence undermining the credibility of police witnesses, the right can amount to little if matters are so arranged that past instances of officer dishonesty never come to their attention in the first place [Steve Reilly and Mark Nichols, USA Today] In Baltimore, following the conviction of several officers in the notorious Gun Trace Task Force scandal, the state’s attorney has begun throwing out nearly 800 convictions tainted by the wrongdoers’ testimony [my Free State Notes post]

Meanwhile: “The former New York police officer who was fired in August for using a chokehold during Eric Garner’s deadly arrest five years ago is suing to be reinstated.” [Doha Madani, NBC News] Earlier, New York’s Police Benevolent Association said the city’s police commissioner would “lose his police department” if he followed a judge’s recommendation and fired Daniel Pantaleo [Jonathan Blanks, Cato; Joel Mathis, The Week]

Discrimination law roundup

  • Supreme Court reconvenes for new term and tomorrow will hear cases over whether Title VII ban on sex discrimination extends to sexual orientation and gender identity [SCOTUSBlog symposium with contributors including Richard Epstein, William Eskridge; Will Baude, Volokh Conspiracy; George Will; earlier here, here, here, etc.]
  • New York City Commission on Human Rights declares it a violation of anti-discrimination law to use the term “illegal alien” in workplace, rental, or public accommodation contexts “with the intent to demean, humiliate, or offend a person or persons.” Does it complicate matters that both federal law and the U.S. Supreme Court use “illegal alien” as a neutral descriptive? [Hans Bader]
  • Minneapolis passes law restricting landlords’ taking into account of tenants’ past criminal histories, evictions, credit scores [Christian Britschgi, Reason]
  • Obama-era Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) mandated burdensome pay data reporting by employers. Will courts allow a course correction? [Federalist Society teleforum with G. Roger King and James A. Paretti Jr., earlier here and here]
  • Professor who directs social justice center at Washington, D.C.’s American University proposes new federal Department of Anti-Racism that would wield ample power to order everyone around along with preclearance authority over all “local, state and federal public policies”; also “no political appointees” [Politico via Amy Alkon; Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker with more on work of Prof. Ibram X. Kendi]
  • Late in its tenure, Obama administration began warning Fannie Mae that discouraging some of the riskiest mortgages (>43% debt-to-income) “could be seen as a violation of the Fair Housing Act.” Fannie and Freddie “quickly complied” and brought the punch bowl back out [Damian Paletta, Washington Post/MSN]

Land use and property roundup

  • When does a taking of land occur? The wrong answer would let the government push around owners in disputes over rails-to-trails projects [Trevor Burrus on Cato Institute amicus brief on Federal Circuit case of Caquelin v. U.S.]
  • Though the federal government can’t successfully manage the Western lands it already has, it will soon extend its grip over more. This time Republicans are responsible [Chris Edwards, Cato]
  • “Sydney’s rental prices are declining because it’s seeing a building boom. The size of Sydney’s apartment market has doubled in two years, and landlords have had to drop rents in order to get tenants.” [Scott Shackford, Reason]
  • To make NYC’s public housing towers a better place to live, throw Le Corbusier off the balcony [Howard Husock, New York Post]
  • Economist Robert H. Nelson, R.I.P. [Jane Shaw, Cato Regulation Magazine]
  • Update: Baltimore eminent domain case against owner of Preakness Stakes race and Pimlico track dropped for now, but remains as bludgeon in closet [Ilya Somin, earlier here, etc.]