Sexual Orientation Discrimination

I’ll admit it.  When I first learned about “The Woman Question“ during my first year of a law school, I wasn’t impressed.  I immediately equated this feminist approach to the world (and particularly, to the law) with what I felt was as an overly radicalized modern feminism.

Minnesota Gender Discrimination Lawyers This week, I was reminded of The Woman Question.  A new study (conducted by the University of Toronto and published September 16) shows that I wasn’t alone in my thoughts on feminism.  As a society, the study determines, we tend to distrust movements heavily supported by overt activism.  Salon’s Tom Jacobs concludes:

So the message to advocates is clear: Avoid rhetoric or actions that reinforce the stereotype of the angry activist. Realize that if people find you off-putting, they’re not going to listen to your message. As Bashir and her colleagues note, potential converts to your cause “may be more receptive to advocates who defy stereotypes by coming across as pleasant and approachable.”

As a threshold matter, the angry activists have reason to be angry.  American women make 81 cents on the dollar when compared to men.  The United States is one of only 8 countries in the world that don’t offer paid maternity leave (with the likes of Suriname, Liberia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Western Samoa and Tonga).  In 2011, women ran only 12 of the Fortune 500 companies.  In 2010, women accounted for only 31.5% of all lawyers.  Unfortunately, I could go on with employment (and other) disparities.

In any event, as I’ve come to learn since that first year of law school, the kind of strident activism employed by groups such as feminists, environmentalists, and gay rights advocates serves one incredibly important purpose: it forces those in a position of power to pay attention, to take pause, to ask questions.   [click to continue…]

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It’s been a busy week for employment law and civil rights.  The impact of the past week’s Supreme Court decisions on these two areas of law cannot be understated.  The Voting Rights Act was gutted, killing protections put in place to prevent discrimination at the ballot box.  The Civil Rights Act was substantially weakened, stripping minority employees across the country from access to Title VII remedies. And although the news for same-sex couples was brighter, the Court’s narrow decisions on that front leave much work to be done in the struggle for equality.

Wednesday, the Supreme Court released its decisions in United States v. Windsor (the “DOMA” case) and Hollingsworth v. Perry (the “Prop 8″ case).  These two cases each had the potential to become landmark civil rights precedent, with monumental significance for gay and lesbian Americans; they were heralded by pundits as the most important civil rights cases of our generation.

Indeed, the decision in Windsor will go down as one of the most significant decisions in Supreme Court history; it struck at the heart of DOMA and declared gay and lesbians deserving of equal protection under the law.  The Court’s decision in Perry, on the other hand, will soon be brushed into the dusty corners of irrelevance; in that case, a group of five strange bedfellow Justices entirely ducked the question of whether same-sex couples are entitled to marriage equality.  Thus, the struggle for gay civil rights marches on – and there is a lot of ground to cover. [click to continue…]

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Prior to Tuesday, six states (New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa) and the District of Columbia had full marriage equality.

As a result of Tuesday’s historic election, three additional states will now have marriage equality as well. Those states are Maine, Maryland, and Washington. (Technically, at the time of this post, Washington’s results are still coming in, but its referendum on the matter looks almost certain to pass.)

Another result of the election is that Minnesota defeated a hurtful and divisive amendment that would’ve constitutionally banned marriage equality. Since last night’s election also gave the DFL control of the Minnesota legislature, and since Governor Dayton is pro-marriage equality, it is almost certain that, despite initial words to the contrary, Minnesota is now on the fast-track to also establishing marriage equality.

The real question is whether Minnesota’s democratically-elected government will beat the United States Supreme Court to the punch. [click to continue…]

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Quick post here:  The Minnesotans United for All Families Campaign put out a great video today featuring former Governor Ventura and his wife, Terry, speaking about the amendment on the ballot this November that seeks to prohibit gay and lesbian partners from marrying.  Ventura points out that one of the issues at stake — in addition to equality —  is whether government should have the power to restrict individual liberty in this manner.

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The rights, privileges, and responsibilities afforded to married individuals in the United States are vast and varied.  As a matter of clear public policy, federal, state, and local governments grant married individuals everything from tax breaks to survivorship rights.  Gay and lesbian couples across the country have sought to be included in these benefits and obligations.  They have seen success in recent years in various state courts and legislatures, including being granted inclusion in marriage in a few, civil unions in some, and domestic partnerships in others.  Despite such gains for these couples, 31 states have recently amended their constitutions to specifically deny such recognition.  In these states, gay and lesbians are left with no other option than to attempt to contract around their inability to obtain governmental recognition of their unions; Minnesota is currently considering whether to pass a similar amendment.

http://www.freedomtomarry.org/states/

Project 515, based here in Minnesota, has discovered that “most of the rights provided to married couples cannot be replicated by signing legal documents or contracts.” [click to continue…]

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As published in the Harvard Law & Policy Review, Kevin M. Clermont & Stewart J. Schwab observed that from 1979-2006, plaintiffs bringing employment law matters (discrimination, wrongful termination, etc) in federal court won only 15% of the time. When paired with the observation that plaintiffs in non job-related matters won 51% of the time, that 15% figure is stunning. Questions as to why there is such an imbalance in employment law compared to other areas of law have been the focus of many journalists, lawyers and academics. But for attorneys who represent plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases, there is one key factor worth focusing on: properly preparing a case to survive motions for dismissal, particularly summary judgement motions.

http://www.hlpronline.com/Vol3.1/Clermont-Schwab_HLPR.pdf

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Andrew Cohen, contributing editor at The Atlantic, discusses in Supreme Court Review: The Tyranny of the Majority how four of this week’s controversial decisions from the nation’s highest Court were decided by one vote. Cohen’s piece is a solid reminder that, despite the complexity and nuance of constitutional law, it is the ballot box during presidential-election years that remains the most powerful force in the determination of Supreme Court decisions.


Reuters

The future of same-sex marriage and voting rights, among other matters, rest in the hands of voters this November. Supreme Court decisions have wide-sweeping and significant controlling authority.  With regard to sexual orientation, the court will be considering the validity of California’s Proposition 8 .  On voting rights, the Court will be set to review key statutory provisions recently upheld by a federal appellate court.

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Justice Kennedy

Tuesday’s decision in Perry v. Brown (the “Prop 8” case) means that roughly one year from now, it is likely that the United States Supreme Court will be giving its opinion on the now infamous 2008 ballot proposition that resulted in barring Californian gay couples from joining in marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy will ultimately decide the fate of millions of gay people who wish to join in the civil institution of marriage, and his opinion will likely  have a significantly broader impact on cases involving sexual orientation discrimination.

Why I think the Court will:

  1. grant certiorari to take the case;
  2. find “Prop 8” and the 30-plus similar state ballot measures and amendments unconstitutional; and
  3. declare that gay people are a class deserving of heightened (if not strict scrutiny) analysis, which will have important implications for sexual orientation discrimination cases and employment law;

all, after the jump…

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Minnesota Employment, Wrongful Termination Lawyers

Dear Friends,

It’s been 3 years since Madia Law opened and I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to represent so many good and decent people going through tough times. I hope and believe that we’ve changed many lives for the better.

Madia Law has taken on slumlords who subjected their tenants to awful living conditions; a municipality that unlawfully forced a police officer to resign after learning of his sexual orientation; a Fortune 100 company that discharged a long time employee in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; a police department that maced, tased, kicked, and arrested a young man who was doing nothing more than barbecuing with his family; and many more. Through it all, I’ve been humbled to represent some of the bravest and most decent individuals that I’ve ever met.

New MadiaLaw.com Website!

Madia LawFor our three year anniversary, we’ve expanded and updated the Madia Law website to hopefully provide more information to people looking for help with employment litigation and broader civil rights issues.  I hope that the new website will be a strong resource for individuals who need quick information and will encourage them to seek further consultation and actual legal advice.

Read More . . .

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The Daily Show interviewed Missouri State Representative Wanda Brown about her “Second Amendment crusade to release gun owners from the shackles of persecution” in employment.

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Feb. 2012: Madia Law beats City’s motion and forces settlement to police officer pushed out because he was gay

February 22, 2012

For nearly three years, Sean Lathrop was a star of the St. Cloud Police Department.  Known as the “Golden Boy,” Officer Lathrop earned superlative performance evaluations, garnered high recommendations from community members, and quickly advanced to positions of responsibility. Officer Lathrop’s ascent within the Department came to an abrupt end on May 12, 2009, when […]

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California’s Proposition 8 is struck down – what next?

August 12, 2010

Ted Olson and David Boies teamed up for equality Last week, Judge Vaughn Walker issued a highly anticipated ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger striking down California’s Proposition 8 – which amended California’s state constitution to restrict marriage to “a man and a woman” – on the grounds that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth […]

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May 2009: Introducing Madia Law

May 1, 2009

Dear Friends, I am excited to inform you that I am starting a new business venture, Madia Law LLC – a dynamic and aggressive law firm that will serve Minnesota individuals and small businesses.

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