Despite Fred Hartman’s claims of age discrimination, disability discrimination, and retaliation, a state appellate court found that the Ohio Department of Transportation was within its rights to dismiss him. After a series of three preventable truck accidents within a three-week period, the department had put him on a “last-chance agreement,” which was followed several months later by another accident. Hartman “had submitted a doctor’s note requesting accommodation for hearing loss in one of his ears.” [Jon Hyman]
Amid the wreckage left by superstorm Sandy, residents of two New Haven, Ct. neighborhoods celebrated trick-or-treating against official advice. Was that “libertarian” of them? [Mark Oppenheimer]
Buried in OSHA’s impending final rule on electronic reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses is this little nugget. OSHA believes that you violate the law if you require an employee to take a post-accident drug test. Let me repeat. According to OSHA, you violate the law if you automatically drug test any employee after an on-the-job accident.
Allow me to pause while this sinks in.
The agency concedes that employers might still lawfully do some post-accident testing on a case by case basis so long as they are willing to develop evidence pointing to, e.g., a given employee’s drug use as an accident cause. Of course it is precisely such effectively accusatory, singling-out testing that is most likely to provoke litigation for having unfairly cast suspicion on an individual employee.
- In the mail: “No Child Left Alone: Getting the Government Out of Parenting,” forthcoming book by Abby Wisse Schachter [more: Pittsburgh Tribune Eric Heyl interview]
- Neighbor reports Winnipeg mom to child services for letting kids play in fenced-in back yard [Canadian Press/National Post via Amy Alkon]
- “Public space in Germany is not held hostage by liability lawsuits; Berlin playgrounds are not designed by lawyers.” And they’re awesome [Anna Winger, New York Times]
- Controversy intensifies further on Scotland’s Named Person scheme [Scottish Mail on Sunday (“complete stranger” will be assigned as Named Person to each child over school holidays), Gerald Warner/CapX, earlier here and here]
- Omar Mateen’s road to becoming a security guard: “He had issues. All the records were discarded by the school system, per statute. Clearly, if his employer had access to his juvenile record, he would be the last person to own a weapon.” [Yahoo]
- Kansas Supreme Court orders state legislature to increase funding for poor districts [ABA Journal, earlier here, here, etc.]
- Left-right cooperation on school reform begins to break down amid demands to toe social justice line [Robert Pondiscio]
“Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they’re using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome.” [Liz Szabo/USA Today (“CDC: Young women should avoid alcohol unless using birth control”), Tracy Clark-Flory/Vocativ (with headline above)]
Rebecca Kukla, professor at the Kennedy School of Ethics, had the following comment, quoted in the Vocativ piece:
We don’t tell pregnant women not to drive cars, even though we are much more certain that there’s a nonzero risk to their fetuses from each car ride than from each drink. The ideal of zero risk is both impossible to meet and completely paralyzing to try to meet. The idea that the pleasures and routines that make up women’s days are mere luxuries that are not worth any risk whatsoever is patronizing and sexist, and it would also turn their lives into complete hell if really taken to its conclusion. It also imposes a much higher risk reduction bar on pregnant women than on parents of small children, for no apparent reason.
We have had numerous occasions over the years to remark on the direction in which Obama appointee Thomas Frieden has taken the Centers for Disease Control.
More: Alexandra Petri, Washington Post (CDC’s warning “incredibly condescending”).
Canada’s National Post reports that what police consider to be probably a “network of a few people” at more than one cab company have been victimizing unwary riders by sliding their bank cards through an unauthorized point-of-sale machine and handing a replica card back to them. The card is then used to drain the victim’s bank account. TD Bank alone says it is handling 65 claims following this pattern. The online payment mechanism used in ridesharing services appears to be more secure against scams of this sort, but the operations manager for one of the taxi companies is touchy on that point: “To suggest that this has anything to do with taxis vs. Uber is ludicrous,” she tells the NP.
Which raises the question: if Uber and Lyft were the older technology, would cities following the Precautionary Principle legalize taxis for hail? Of course, to those of us who elevate principles of liberty over the regulatory precautionary principle, the answer is clear: legalize both kinds of service, and let consumers decide for themselves which risks they are willing to run. But wouldn’t it be absurd to ban the safer service and thus force people to use the riskier?
- “In fact, none of the mass shootings that have grabbed headlines in the last few years would have been prevented by the gun controls proposed in response to them, and Obama’s new list of warmed-over ideas does not break any new ground in that respect.” [Jacob Sullum] More: Dave Kopel; Ken White at Popehat on the President’s rhetoric of rights; Jonathan Adler notes that ATF’s new guidance on who’s a gun dealer either restates existing law (yawn) or violates the Administrative Procedure Act (whee!); Eugene Kontorovich wonders whether that guidance is vague on purpose; and Josh Blackman writes that while most of the President’s orders don’t go much beyond “hortatory fluff” (no more letting attorneys set up gun trusts for MS-13 gang members!) they help lay the groundwork for more intrusive measures to come;
- “Judge tosses consumer suit claiming SeaWorld falsely asserts its whales are well-treated” [ABA Journal]
- In a single press release on Missouri mosque vandalism case, the U.S. Department of Justice misleads readers in two important ways [Eugene Volokh on legal significance of burned Koran, omission of ideological content in sprayed graffiti slogans]
- New Greg Ip book “Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe” [Tyler Cowen and more, Arnold Kling]
- Plaintiff’s lawyers “salivating at the prospects for big paydays” from self-driving car accidents [Bloomberg]
- Do “arms trafficking” rules extend even to domestic sharing of data files containing information on three-dimensional printing of guns? [Ilya Shapiro and Randal John Meyer, Cato]
- So the Graubard Miller/Alice Lawrence mega-fee saga, often covered in this space, turns out to have a Sheldon Silver connection [Wayne Barrett]
- New Jersey arbitrator’s ruling: “Teacher Who Was Late to Work 111 Times in 2 Years Will Keep His Job” [AP/Time]
- Claim: feds’ Title IX regs on campus discipline and sex were OK, but colleges went overboard [Sam Bagenstos, Washington Monthly; my different view; Scott Greenfield] Related on OCR power: David Savage and Timothy Phelps, L.A. Times;
- Bon temps rouler: Louisiana public universities claim $274 million in damages from the BP/TransOcean gulf spill [AP/Insurance Journal]
- Washington Supreme Court flexes muscle on school finance case, fining state $100,000 a day until it falls in line with higher spending [Seattle Times]
- Not a parody: major in social justice rage at Washington State U. [one syllabus, another via Daily Caller] Hounding of Nobelist Tim Hunt in a British university milieu not so different from ours [Jonathan Foreman, Commentary]
- “Disparate Impact in School Discipline: What Does the Public Think?” [Education Week] “How Eric Holder’s Disparate Impact Crusade Leads To Quotas” [Hans Bader, Daily Caller]
- “Want Safer Kids? Send Them Into Traffic” [Lenore Skenazy on pedestrian safety practice for little ones]
In 2009, a driver with Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., admitted to the company that he had an alcohol problem. The company told him that it would no longer allow him to drive heavy trucks for the firm. (It said it offered him a less safety-sensitive, but also significantly lower-paying, dock job.) The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stepped in and sued on his behalf under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It conceded that Old Dominion could (and indeed had to) take the keys away from a heavy truck driver it found to be currently drinking on the job, but contended it had failed in its obligation to “make an individualized determination as to whether the driver could return to driving and provide a reasonable accommodation of leave to its drivers for them to obtain treatment.” Of course backsliding and remission are common following rehab treatment, which means as a group drivers with known past alcohol problems will have a higher risk profile than drivers without. That is why at an earlier stage of the case I asked, “Are we really required to take chances with 18-wheelers on the highway?”
Now we know the answer: Yes. A jury agreed with the EEOC and awarded the driver $119,000 in back pay.
P.S. On the other hand, upholding the decision of a federal district court in Georgia, the Eleventh Circuit has ruled that Crete Carrier Corp. did not violate the ADA when it declined to employ a truck driver with a “current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism,” a bar to driving under DOT regulations.
Lenore Skenazy of Free-Range Kids fame, often linked on this site, has a new TV series Thursday evenings on the Discovery Life channel.