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).
At City Journal, Heather Mac Donald has an important article on the federal courts’ willingness to second-guess in great detail the hiring practices of the New York City fire department, in search of more hiring of black applicants. It is worth noting that fire departments are pressed to rely (and even perhaps over-rely) on written tests in assessing applicants’ suitability in part because traditional testing of physical skills such as the ability to wield a charged hose, get up a ladder quickly, and carry body-size weights has been extensively and successfully sued against by lawyers representing female applicants.
- Update: Australian judge tells Men at Work to pay 5% of royalties to “Kookaburra” owner, far less than was demanded [Lowering the Bar, earlier here and here]
- McDonald’s CEO pushes back vs. ogrish CSPI’s anti-Happy Meal campaign [Stoll, Mangu-Ward] “Milk, Coke and the Calorie Police” [Jason Kuznicki, Cato]
- “Lawyer sues basketball star LeBron James, alleging he is his father” [CNN, BLT] Update: judge tosses suit.
- Small business tort liability costs estimated at $133 billion [NERA study (PDF) for Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (press release) via PoL]
- Crawlers, robots.txt and fear of litigation: “Some closure on my collision with Facebook” [Pete Warden]
- Now what was Citizens United supposed to open the floodgates for, exactly? [Bainbridge]
- DOJ “entered into undisclosed agreement with Amex to freeze out the employment of exec who ultimately was cleared of wrongdoing” [Podgor, Kirkendall via Steele]
- Easter egg in financial regulation bill could result in new pressure for gender, ethnic quotas across wide sectors of economy [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Real Clear Politics; Mark Perry with some figures on the degree of gender balance in Dodd’s and Frank’s committees]
- “Teen beauty queen portrayed as spoiled brat on ‘Wife Swap’ files $100M lawsuit” [NY Daily News]
- “Viva el cupcake!” NYC parents and kids protest the Bloomberg administration’s anti-bake-sale rules [Philissa Cramer, GothamSchools] Bill in Congress would thrust federal government much more deeply into school food issues [Al Tompkins, Poynter]
- For improved disabled access to online resources, look to technical advance, not regulation [Szoka, City Journal]
- “Ministry of Justice Rolls Out New Measures to Reform U.K. Libel Law” [Legal Week/Law.com] “Success Fees in U.K. Libel Cases to Be Slashed by 90 Percent” [same]
- “They’re overlawyered. They’re poisoned by lawyers.” (Markopolos critique of SEC, cont’d) [Gordon Smith, Conglomerate]
- A sentiment open to doubt: Prof. Freedman contends that lawyers’ ethics are higher than doctors’ [Legal Ethics Forum]
- Quotas for women executives in boardroom and top corporate posts spread in Europe. Maybe someday here too? [NYT “Room for Debate”]
- Yes to better indigent criminal defense, no to a court order taking over the subject [Greenfield]
So now everyone will be happy dept.: The only bone-marrow donor program in Idaho’s capital of Boise is closing down. It seems the National Marrow Donor Program has enacted regulations requiring local programs either to recruit at least 1,000 minority donors a year or to hire a full-time recruiter by way of showing a good-faith effort toward that goal. But there aren’t enough minorities in the Treasure Valley to hit the numerical target and the program at St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute isn’t big enough to support the full-time hire, so now the nearest local option for potential donors will be an institution in Spokane, Washington. (Idaho Statesman and more, Idaho Business Review, Seattle Times) (via Taranto).
More: The national program, however, denies that its regulations require the hiring of a recruiter and says its local minority recruitment goal is 575, not 1,000: Taranto, Aug. 11.
In 1995, Chicago paid $5 million for an African-American consultant to work with a blue-ribbon panel to devise a race-neutral exam for promoting firefighters. Unfortunately, in the end result, whites were twice as likely to score “well-qualified” as blacks. In 2002, when it ran out of candidates who scored 89, Chicago stopped requiring that promoted firefighters score that high, and a federal district court has decided as a result that the test was racially discriminatory for the previous seven years. Chicago taxpayers may be on the hook for as much as an additional $80 million in back pay and front pay. (Glenn Jeffers, “Judge rules city fire exam biased”, Chicago Tribune, Mar. 23; AP/Chicago Sun-Times, Mar. 23; Fran Spielman, “Exam bias ruling may cost city $80 million in firefighter lawsuit”, Chicago Sun-Times, Mar. 24).
A question for readers: none of the press has mentioned it, but, in 2001, a labor arbitrator ruled that the city discriminates against whites when it promotes a lower-scoring minority over a white. (Fran Spielman, “City ordered to promote white firefighters”, Chicago Sun-Times, Apr. 14, 2001). In 2002, a federal jury found that the 1986 test was fair, and that the city discriminated by promoting lower-scoring minorities over whites, awarding millions. (AP, May 18, 2002). These would appear to put the city in an impossible position. Or has something happened in the interim that obviates these earlier rulings?
As an experiment, I’ve opened comments; please restrict your remarks to this latter question, and please remain civil and respectful.
The decisions are arguably reconcilable: the two exams are different; Biondo involved an explicit quota. On the other hand, page 5 of the Biondo slip opinion explicitly endorsed the methodology used by Chicago that the district court condemned this week.