State’s business community supports anti-discrimination measure in the Legislature
Most entrepreneurs support a federal law to protect LGBT against discrimination in public accommodations.
When I co-founded the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SFLHCC) more than 20 years ago, our vision was large and our mission simple: to promote Hispanic businesses in South Florida and advocate on their behalf.
Since then, our organization has grown to include nearly 1,300 members. While our mission of promotion and advocacy remains, at times we take the lead on broader issues because of the impact on the greater business community and more importantly, because it is the right thing to do. One such issue the SFLHCC board of directors voted to support is the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.
As an organization working to enhance the environment in which our business members operate, it only makes sense that we support an initiative that bans discrimination and advances our state in a positive direction. Simply put, if Florida has a reputation for being a difficult place for some to work and live, businesses will suffer when the talent inevitably chooses to go elsewhere.
While news stories have covered a small sample of events where business owners chose not to serve LGBT customers, I would caution that the companies highlighted in these stories do not represent the greater population of small businesses. In fact, studies show a majority of local establishments support anti-discrimination laws that include LGBT people.
David Bowie challenged MTV for its discrimination against black musicians
Whatever one says of David Bowie, it’s clear the legendary artist was always true to himself, never shying away from exotic images and genre-bending music. And as Kim Renfro reported at Tech Insider, that streak of independence sometimes spilled over to social causes.
In the early 1980s, MTV was heavily criticized for neglecting black artists. In one case, MTV didn’t air Rick James’s “Super Freak,” leading James to complain to Rolling Stone: “Me and every one of my peers — Earth, Wind, and Fire, Stevie Wonder, the Gap Band, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson — have great videos. Why doesn’t MTV show them?”
Bowie, however, was a white artist who was getting a lot of attention from MTV. So in an interview with the network, he confronted MTV VJ Mark Goodman about discrimination against black artists:
David Bowie: “Why are there practically no blacks on the network?”
Mark Goodman: “We seem to be doing music that fits into what we want to play on MTV. The company is thinking in terms of narrowcasting.”
David Bowie: “There seem to be a lot of black artists making very good videos that I’m surprised aren’t being used on MTV.”
Mark Goodman: “We have to try and do what we think not only New York and Los Angeles will appreciate, but also Poughkeepsie or the Midwest. Pick some town in the Midwest which would be scared to death by … a string of other black faces, or black music. We have to play music we think an entire country is going to like, and certainly we’re a rock and roll station.”
David Bowie: “Don’t you think it’s a frightening predicament to be in?”
Mark Goodman: “Yeah, but no less so here than in radio.”
David Bowie: “Don’t say, ‘Well, it’s not me, it’s them.’ Is it not possible it should be a conviction of the station and of the radio stations to be fair … to make the media more integrated?”
Donald Trump’s Pro-Discrimination Spokesperson Once Sued Employer for Racial Discrimination
Katrina Pierson is an impressive figure, if only for her ability to out-batshit her employer, Donald Trump. She serves as a campaign spokesperson and talking head, frequently appearing on cable news to offer summaries of Trump’s, discriminatory policy proposals and his general hardline xenophobia and bigotry—which makes it, perhaps, a little funny that once she sued her boss for racial discrimination.
Pierson’s most outright racist statement so far (November is still pretty far off!) came after Trump’s startling pledge to completely ban Muslims from entering the United States. When challenged on CNN about barring “regular Muslims,” Pierson scoffed: “Yes, from Arab countries. You know what? So what? They’re Muslims.” The ability to deliver this line with a straight face ought to require either a very stiff drink, or a sincere and abiding belief that a particular ethnic group is inherently unworthy of rights enjoyed by more favored groups.
In 2008, before her ascent to Tea Party star (Texas-area regional division) and a failed run for Congress, Pierson worked for Sanofi-Aventis, a pharmaceutical company, marketing prescription drugs to doctors in the Dallas area. Two years later, she filed suit against the company, claiming that they “engaged in practices towards her which willfully discriminated against her on the basis of her race.” In her complaint, uncovered by Gawker, she demanded restitution for lost wages and “emotional pain” due to her treatment as a non-white person.
Discrimination Against Transgender Women Seeking Access to Homeless Shelters
Discrimination Against Transgender Women Seeking Access to Homeless Shelters – The Center for American Progress and the Equal Rights Center, or … | ARADA
The Center for American Progress and the Equal Rights Center, or ERC, recently conducted telephone tests on 100 homeless shelters across four states. The tests measured the degree to which transgender homeless women can access shelter in accordance with their gender identity, as well as the types of discrimination and mistreatment they face in the process. While accessing homeless shelters is difficult for anyone, transgender women face particular issues and barriers that have yet to be addressed.
Current law: the Equal Access Rule
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people are not explicitly protected from discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act. However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, sought to remedy this through the Equal Access Rule, or EAR, which makes it illegal to discriminate against LGBT individuals and families in any housing that receives funding from HUD or is insured by the Federal Housing Administration, regardless of local laws. As currently written, EAR prohibits inquiries into an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity and does not address the right of transgender shelter-seekers to access shelter in accordance with their gender identity.
Parents allege discrimination against Calvary Church
The Dunnings said their son was dismissed from Calvary in 2015 after having three episodes in school thought to be seizures.
It turns out his condition was less serious: abdominal migraines. This is a condition common in children that is like a migraine headache for your stomach. The Dunnings thought this was good news, but they say instead they received a call from Director Pat Collins that their son’s health issues were too much for the school to handle.
“What they did to my child sent the message that ‘there is something wrong with you, you are not good enough to go to school,'” she said. “The phone call really made me question their values, their morals and the way they treat children,” Lucy Dunning explained.
The Borjas family found themselves in a similar situation with their son Francisco.
“It was a kick in the gut, I would say. Horrible, horrible– I was in shock,” said Amaya Borjas.
The Borjases say their son began attending Calvary at the age of 2. They loved the school and so did Francisco. However, they say when their son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 4, they were told he had to go.
“I’m like, ‘oh my God, can we work this out,'” said Luis Borjas. “I’m not asking for special accommodations.”
CMS’ Standardized Plan Option Could Reduce Discrimination
In their recently proposed rule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) created a “standardized option” for plans at the bronze, silver, and gold metal levels. Insurers could elect—but are not required—to create a standardized option for sale on the exchange.
Standardized options would have a fixed deductible, out-of-pocket limits, and standard copayments and coinsurance for a number Essential Health Benefit (EHB) services. For instance, a beneficiary would pay the same for a primary care appointment, emergency room visit, or surgery regardless of which standardized plan the beneficiary selects within a metal tier.
The rationale for the creation of the standardized option is that consumers find the large variety of cost-sharing structures difficult to navigate. The evidence supports CMS in this regard.
A study of Medicare Part D demonstrated that individuals regularly choose plans on the basis of premiums (which are readily available and easily comparable), and not expected out-of-pocket costs (which would involve a much more in-depth assessment of the benefit design). After Massachusetts decided to standardize their insurance options in 2010, and a group of economists found that standardization simplified consumers’ decisions and improved their overall welfare. Other state-based marketplaces, like California, have also adopted standardized plan designs.
Education Department Asks Schools to Combat Anti-Muslim Discrimination
School and college administrators must be proactive in combating discrimination against students, especially those from Syria and Middle Eastern countries and those perceived to be Muslim, said the U.S. Department of Education.
“A focus on these protections, while always essential, is particularly important amid international and domestic events that create an urgent need for safe spaces for students,” read a guidance letter issued Monday to school districts, colleges and universities.
“We support your efforts to ensure that young people are not subjected to discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, or national origin, particularly at this time when fear and anger are heightened, and when public debate sometimes results in the dissemination of misinformation.”
The letter comes on the heels of heightened anti-Muslim sentiment and a flurry of personal attacks, including against Sikhs, fueled in part by terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 and in San Bernadino, California, that killed 14 people.
“These refugees have captivated so much attention and are fleeing precisely the type of senseless and violent attacks that have occurred here in the United States and elsewhere recently,” the letter read. “The United States must continue to welcome these refugees seeking safety and a new start in life.”
UN Working Group Highlights Women in U.S. Particularly Vulnerable to Discrimination
At the conclusion of a ten-day visit to the United States, a United Nations Working Group of experts issued a preliminary statement on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice in the U.S. While praising the Obama administration for its commitment to women’s equality, the group noted that there is a wide diversity in state law and practice regarding women’s health and reproductive rights, maternity leave and other issues.
The Working Group delegation met with federal, state and local officials, as well as civil society organizations, academics and service providers in Washington, D.C., Alabama, Oregon and Texas. HRC was invited to participate in the consultations in Washington, D.C. and Montgomery, Alabama, which focused on the situation of LBTQ women in the U.S. and the American south.
HRC Senior Legislative Counsel Robin Maril noted that despite great progress for LGBT people over the past decade in the U.S., there is much more to be done.
“Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women living at the intersection of sexism, homophobia and transphobia continue to face poor health outcomes, violence and economic insecurity fueled by discrimination on a daily basis,“ she said.
Maril addressed health disparities and the challenges of access to culturally competent quality health care, violence against the transgender community that disproportionately impacts transgender women of color and the economic disparity and financial discrimination faced by lesbian couples and transgender women. She noted that in a recent study, 56 percent of LGB people and 70 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming people reported experiencing discrimination by healthcare provider. Maril also noted that the HIV epidemic continues to disproportionately impact transgender women, particularly in communities of color, and the estimate that transgender women are 4.3 times more at risk of becoming homicide victims than the general population of all women. In 2015, more than 20 transgender women in the U.S. were murdered simply because of who they are.
The Truth About American Muslims
People like Donald Trump are engaging in the kind of reckless demagoguery that only encourages discrimination and violence against our Muslim neighbors.
Instead of fearing them—or menacing them with AR-15s outside their mosques—we should be thankful that American Muslims are as successful and well-integrated into our society as they are.
That may seem counterintuitive in the wake of a horrific terror attack by Islamic extremists, but the reality is that terrorism in the United States is exceedingly rare, and there’s no evidence that American Muslims embrace extreme views at a higher rate than Christians or Jews.
There’s a common view that there exists a “Muslim culture,” and that it’s defined by religious leaders in the Middle East. The reality is that Islam’s 1.5 billion adherents around the world are highly diverse. And America’s Muslim community may offer the best evidence that Islam isn’t inherently violent, and doesn’t drive significant numbers of Muslims to terrorism in the absence of other social, economic or political problems.
American Muslims have been described by The Wall Street Journal (somewhat patronizingly) as “role models” for Muslims everywhere. Almost seven in 10 Muslims identify as political moderates or liberals, according to a 2009 survey by Gallup. Multiple surveys have found that, by and large, American Muslims have an optimistic outlook on life in this country, and want to be welcomed into the mainstream.
Woman sues Amazon over allegations of discrimination due to her pregnancy
An employee of Amazon.com Inc. is suing the company after she claims she was mistreated due to her pregnancy.
Cathleen N. Stewart filed a complaint on Dec. 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the company, alleging discrimination due to a pregnancy-related disability.
According to the complaint, Stewart worked for the company and was a recipient of the medical benefits program, which is available to employees. On Feb. 9, 2011, Stewart informed her supervisor that her pregnancy was causing her illness and discomfort. She informed her supervisors of her medical restrictions, including a reduction in the amount of weight she could lift and additional time needed for bathroom breaks. She was terminated in April 2011 due to low productivity. She is suing Amazon for its violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming the company ignored her requests for accommodation and implemented guidelines that affected her productivity in a negative manner.
Stewart is seeking compensation for lost benefits and wages, as well as legal fees. She is represented by Harold J. Funt of Mosebach, Funt, Dayton and Duckworth PC in Lehigh Valley.