Last week, the United States Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s affirmative action policies in Fisher v. University of Texas. While not directly related to employment law, the decision is an important sign of the Court’s commitment to diversity and may be indicative of how future decisions will come down.
Last week, researchers at the University of Michigan and Princeton University released the results of one of the latest studies regarding the effects of so-called “Ban the Box” legislation. Prior to the legislation, employers could ask applicants about their criminal background as part of the employment application process. This resulted in substantial barriers to employment for minority applicants, particularly African Americans and Latinos statistically more likely to have been incarcerated or have a criminal record. It has also, some believe, resulted in prison overcrowding.
Both bad things.
North Carolina has made headlines recently for enacting laws requiring transgender people to use public bathrooms corresponding to their biological sex (as opposed to their gender identity). North Carolina and the United States Justice Department filed competing lawsuits against each other yesterday regarding the legality of the restroom law.
Today Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill into law that Mississippi claims protects “sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government.” Both gay rights groups and Mississippi’s businesses are calling the legislation “discriminatory.”
I recently gave a presentation about implicit bias to a group of visiting nurses in Des Moines. Asking someone to give a speech about implicit bias is like asking someone to give a presentation about the sky. It can go in a million directions and finding a way to focus can be difficult. I took a more general approach, and I think it was pretty well received. It had been awhile since I looked at implicit bias or updated my research, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it seems to be trending right now.
As a follow up to my previous post about innovative things employers can do to help employees, I want to highlight another private-sector employer going the extra mile for its employees.
Just last week, social media giant Twitter made headlines when one of its teams decided to hold a frat-themed party in the office, paid for by the company. The party was complete with kegs of beer, red plastic cups, beer pong, and a sign written in Greek-themed font that read “Twitter frat house.” While the party itself should have been newsworthy on its own, it became even more so given that in March of this year a former employee sued Twitter for sex discrimination, claiming the company made it difficult for women to obtain promotions and engaged in tactics designed keep women out of higher ranking positions.