Piper Hoffman

Court in Costco Discrimination Case to Employers: Don’t Fight Discrimination

Plaintiffs suing Costco for sex discrimination face another round of litigation thanks to the Supreme Court's recent dismissal of the Wal-Mart sex discrimination case. Because of the Supreme Court's decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that the Costco trial court must reconsider whether the plaintiffs can prove that the company should be liable for sex discrimination in store-level promotions. On this question the Court of Appeals, like the Supreme Court before it, ruled the wrong way, discouraging companies from implementing measures that would prevent discrimination.When companies leave employment decisions like promotions to individual decision-makers without giving…

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Piper Hoffman

Bloomberg did not discriminate against women by treating new mothers the same as other leave-takers

Article first published as Judge: Bloomberg Did Not Discriminate Against Women on Blogcritics.The judge who ruled that Bloomberg LP did not illegally discriminate against women for taking pregnancy leave raised an important policy question in her written opinion. Judge Preska did not drop "an anvil…on the work-life balance scale," despite commentators' efforts to portray her decision as a calculated blow against work-life balance; in deciding in Bloomberg's favor, all she did was follow the existing law. In her commentary, however, she questioned the wisdom of the law itself, and noted that one alternative might be for employers to "treat pregnant…

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Piper Hoffman

Companies Can’t Discriminate, But Their Managers Can: The Supreme Court Gives Wal-Mart the Win in Dukes Gender Discrimination Class Action Case

Today the Supreme Court sounded the death knell for Dukes v. Wal-Mart, the class action lawsuit accusing Wal-Mart of paying and promoting women less than similarly- or less-qualified men. To protect corporations from having to do more to prevent gender discrimination than pop a few politically correct paragraphs into the employee handbook, the Supreme Court resorted to a belabored procedural argument that incentivizes corporations to do as little as possible to prevent discrimination. The five-Justice majority did not rule on whether or not Wal-Mart actually discriminates against women – they didn’t let the case get that far. Instead they shut…

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Piper Hoffman

Supreme Court Ok’s Forcing Employees Into Arbitration

Article first published as Your Job or Your Rights: How Employers Force Workers Into Arbitration on Blogcritics. Seven of Jamie Leigh Jones’s male co-workers welcomed her to her new job in Iraq by drugging and gang-raping her, according to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She says that the rapists were so violent that afterwards she had to undergo reconstructive surgery on her breasts. Ms. Jones sought her day in court, but her employer, Halliburton, tried to bar the courthouse doors. When she took the job Halliburton made her sign an arbitration agreement which forces employees to give up their…

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Piper Hoffman

Turning the Other Cheek: Illegal Retaliation in the Workplace

Or, How to Choose Judges Article first published as Turning the Other Cheek: Illegal Workplace Retaliation on Blogcritics. If someone went to your employer and said you were discriminating against them, wouldn’t you hold a grudge? Wouldn’t you want to get them fired, and if you couldn’t do that, at least make their lives more difficult? Of course you would (and if you honestly wouldn’t even want to, see your parish priest about nomination for sainthood and/or enjoy nirvana). That is why there is more retaliation going on in American workplaces than there is discrimination (and there is plenty of…

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Piper Hoffman

The Top Ten Myths and Facts About Suing Your Employer for Sex Discrimination

If you believe that someone at work is discriminating against you, one of your options is to go the legal route and bring a case against your employer. I’m all in favor of taking action again illegal discrimination, but you need to have your eyes open when you make up your mind to fire the opening salvo in a discrimination dispute. Here are ten myths and facts about going after your employer for sex discrimination.1. Myth: Your employer will cave quickly and you will move on with your life.Fact: There is a good chance your case will drag on longer…

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Piper Hoffman

Settling Gender Discrimination Class Actions (Part II)

It may not seem credible that gender discrimination remains widespread and systemic in American workplaces. Women outnumber men in colleges and graduate programs; they have entered the workforce in force; women run some companies, universities, states, and departments of the federal government.Despite all this progress, though, discrimination persists. Women are only 17% of Congress members. Women head a mere 2.6% of Fortune 500 companies. In other words, men still overwhelmingly control our most powerful political institutions and our economy.The familiar glass ceiling argument could explain this striking disparity: women can rise up through the ranks professionally, but at some point…

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Piper Hoffman

Settling Gender Discrimination Class Actions (Part I)

Eight- or nine-figure settlements of gender discrimination class action lawsuits regularly make news. It seems like discrimination this pervasive – essentially, discrimination as corporate policy – should be a relic of the Mad Men past. To the contrary, in countless companies and even entire industries, discrimination against women is business as usual. The latest example is Novartis, a pharmaceutical company, which settled a gender discrimination class action for up to $175 million last week. Note that the first legal step in this case was taken seven years ago – keep that in mind before you run out to sue your…

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Piper Hoffman

Women: What is Wrong with Your Last Names?

Why do women change their last names when they get married?  Setting aside the fact that it is the conventional thing to do, the reasons women change their names aren’t overly persuasive.  Many of the female friends and relatives who are dearest to me have changed their last names, and they are intelligent, thoughtful individuals who probably considered the following arguments, so I hope that they and other women like them will submit comments about why they disagree.The custom of married women changing to their husband’s last name is a relic of the times when wives were the legal property…

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Piper Hoffman

The Legal “Fast Track” and Feminism

This Careerist article about women who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1993 contends that women who step off the law firm “fast-track” have been derailed and may be “anti-feminist.”  This is startling news to me, a 1999 graduate of Harvard Law School who stepped off the fast-track.  I’m as dedicated a feminist, and far from feeling derailed, I’m happier than ever.The thesis of the article is that “some of the brightest [female] legal minds in the country” can’t or choose not to hack it on the legal “fast-track,” generally because they prefer to focus more on their children and…

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