- 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]
“Earlier this month, California Senators Hannah-Beth Jackson and Toni G. Atkins introduced a bill, SB 826, that would require a publicly held corporation with its principal places of business in California to have a minimum number of women directors.” [Keith Paul Bishop, Cal Corporate Law, via Prof. Bainbridge, who asks: “How is this constitutional?”]
- Chicago mayor not the only one pushing this awful idea: New Mexico lawmakers propose requiring high school grads to apply to college or file alternate life plan [Dan Boyd, Albuquerque Journal]
- “New York’s Bid to Control Religious Schools” [Avi Schick, WSJ/Yeshiva World]
- “Couple’s three girls were taken away after Walmart reported innocent bath time photos” [Derek Hawkins, WaPo/The State, Jacob Sullum, Reason]
- Also soliciting public comment: “Education Department delays Obama rule encouraging racial quotas in special ed” [Jerome Woehrle, Liberty Unyielding; Erica L. Green, New York Times; Hans Bader/CEI last fall] “Civil Rights Commission Takes on Issue of Minorities in Special Education” [Christina Samuels, EdWeek] And: “Federal Special Education Law and State School Choice Programs” [Tim Keller and Nat Malkus, Federalist Society]
- New from Cato, edited by George H. Smith and Marilyn Moore: “Critics of State Education: A Reader.”
- “Everybody Hates DC’s Proposal Forcing Daycare Workers to Get College Degrees” [Eric Boehm, Reason, earlier here and here]
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC]: “The proposed rule…would require federal agencies to adopt the goal of achieving a 12% representation rate for individuals with disabilities, and a 2% representation rate for individuals with targeted/severe disabilities.” [Workplace Prof] Comments are open through April 25.
Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) of the House Education and the Workforce Committee will be inquiring into the new “benchmarks” that federal contractors will be required to adopt. Julian Hattem at The Hill has more details, and quotes me:
“They have the power to be intrusive and expensive to contractors that they believe are not playing ball on this,” said Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. “If the initiative means anything, it means that they are signaling to ‘Please be one of the ones that we think is trying to make these benchmarks, because if we think that you’re one of the ones we think are not trying to make the benchmarks, you will be hearing from us.’”
To achieve the [7 percent disabled goal], employers will need to hope that large numbers of new hires will turn out to have less visible disabilities, such as back problems, diabetes or (perhaps most useful because most subjectively defined) the array of mental, emotional and behavioral issues that are the most dynamically expansive disability category of all, and which can range from neurosis to learning disability to oppositional defiant disorder to drug and alcohol abuse (if in rehab).
Trouble is, it’s illegal under the ADA for employers to ask job applicants whether they’re disabled, even if the question is offered with favorable intent. So the rules contemplate a fan dance of “invited self-identification” in which workers are given repeated chances at successive stages of the hiring process to announce that they are disabled. Unfortunately for quota compliance, even after getting the job an employee may be too shy to offer such a self-identification, which means the employer may lose any “credit” for the hire. Perhaps equally frustrating, an employee hired with the quota in mind may turn out not to have any disability at all (“Dang it! And she looked so disabled!”).
Building on my post of yesterday, Competitive Enterprise Institute scholar Hans Bader makes several additional points about the Department of Labor’s new hiring quotas for disabled workers at federal contractors:
- Under the regulations, Bader points out, contractors will be obliged to aim for a seven percent quota for each division, a significantly harder task than if it were just a company-wide quota.
- Dodgy terminology to conceal the reality of quotas is nothing new; in fact, there’s a long history of federal officials’ resorting to euphemism and vagueness to characterize quotas as benchmarks, goals, and so forth.
- While disabled quotas, unlike racial quotas, do not raise immediate red flags of unconstitutionality, there is serious doubt as to whether they are actually a lawful application of the statutes Congress has passed in this area. While one such law does refer vaguely to affirmative action for the disabled, that does not necessarily provide a broad enough basis to authorize the new scheme.
- Will compliance and paperwork on this and a related veteran-quota measure cost federal contractors $6 billion a year, as the Associated General Contractors of America has it? Or less than one-fifth that sum, as OFCCP insists? And does OFCCP face even the slightest consequences if its estimates turn out to be low-balls and the contractors turn out to be right?
[cross-posted, with adaptations, at Cato at Liberty. Edited final paragraph 9/23 to clarify that two quota programs are involved]
On Aug. 27, during the reporter-vacation lull before Labor Day, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs finalized its controversial rules requiring federal contractors to adopt “benchmarks” of 7 percent disabled employees in their workforce, a higher percentage than apparently prevails in the workforce at large. [Earlier here, here, here, etc.] OFCCP director Patricia Shiu insists the initiative should not be described as quotas, since contractors falling short will not suffer automatic penalty. Instead, they’ll be thrown into a process of auditing and having their internal procedures put under review and having to demonstrate progress and that sort of thing. Nothing penalty-like about that! Also, if their willingness to go along with this process doesn’t please the federal overseers, they can eventually be debarred from any future contract work, a devastating economic sanction for many firms. Crucially, the feds are applying the regulation to firms’ entire workforce even if only a single division has federal contracts, so that if, say, a food company has one line of business that caters to the military, and nineteen others that do no federal contracting whatsoever, all twenty lines must adopt the quot… sorry, benchmarks. [Cleveland Plain Dealer, OFCCP, Government Executive, Federal News Radio]
- U.S. Department of Justice may soon issue regulations mandating disabled accessibility for websites, a truly awful idea [WSJ, N.C. Journal of Law and Technology, Alexander Cohen, Atlas; one advocate’s view; our long-running coverage, and my two cents years back]
- Coming soon: 7% disabled-worker quota for federal contractors? [David Harsanyi, earlier here, here, etc.]
- “Disability Act Charges and Awards Skyrocket” [Corp Counsel]
- NYC: “Judge Raps Disability-Lawsuit Mill After ‘Client’ Disappears” [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, ABA Journal, John Andren/WLF, earlier on attorney Bradley Weitz]
- W.D. Va.: farmers’ markets covered by ADA as “places of public accommodations” [Bagenstos]
- Result under UK’s new version of ADA: teacher reinstated after arguing that mental disability caused him to keep student out drunk till 3 a.m. [Fox Rothschild]
- Hey, let’s start constitutionalizing disabled rights! What could go wrong? [Michael Waterstone via Bagenstos]
I’ve got a new op-ed at the Daily Caller on one of Washington’s more ambitious schemes of arm-twisting private businesses for the presumed good of society, and a post at Cato at Liberty tying it in with the curious legal situation in which — even before quotas! — some employers feel obliged not to discriminate against school-bus-driver applicants who’ve recently been in rehab. The WSJ covers the story today too. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is here (& Disability Law, more, Bader).