News & Commentary

October 23, 2018

Vail Kohnert-Yount

Vail Kohnert-Yount is a student at Harvard Law School.

Over the weekend, the New York Times broke the news that the Trump administration is again seeking new ways to attack transgender people’s civil rights. A memo released by the Department of Health and Human Services revealed its intention to define gender as either male or female and unchangeable from birth. The adoption of this definition will impact the four agencies that enforce Title IX—the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor. Meanwhile, the National Center for Transgender Equality called out the proposal as “an attempt to put restraints on the lives of 2 million people, effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law.”

The Supreme Court will hear the second arbitration case of the term next week in Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela. OnLabor contributor Charlotte Garden previewed the case at SCOTUSblog, in which the court will decide if the 9th Circuit correctly held that an employer did consent to class arbitration when it included language in the arbitration contract that committed the parties to use arbitration “in lieu of any and all lawsuits or other civil legal proceedings,” specified that arbitral claims include those “that, in the absence of this Agreement, would have been available to the parties by law,” and authorized the arbitrator to “award any remedy allowed by applicable law.”

Last week, the Boston City Council voted unanimously to support the 1,500 Boston area Marriott employees who have been on strike with Unite Here 26 demanding higher wages and better working conditions. With the resolution, the council asked all city employees to boycott Marriott by not “eating, meeting, or sleeping” at its hotels during the strike and encouraged them to join ongoing picket lines. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees have crossed the picket line during their visits to Boston in recent weeks, while the Houston Astros chose to stay in a hotel where workers were not striking.

Last month, researchers at Northwestern, Harvard, and Norway’s Institute for Social Research released a study that looked at every available field experiment on hiring discrimination from 1989 through 2015. The study found that the level of anti-Black racism in hiring has remained essentially unchanged since at least 1989. In the same time period, there was some indication of declining discrimination against Latinos. Ultimately, the authors wrote, “The results document a striking persistence of racial discrimination in U.S. labor markets.”

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