No Age “Good” for Women Workers?

A survey by the accounting firm, Ernst & Young , has found that age – either being too old or too young – is the chief concern of women in the workplace.

 The survey, conducted in the United Kingdom, involved 1,000 women between the ages of  18 and 60 (which does not even account for the oldest category of women in the workplace who are most likely to be concerned about age discrimination!). 

 The survey found four key barriers facing women in the workplace:

  •  Age  was identified as the biggest obstacle that women face during their careers. Thirty two per cent of the women surveyed said age had impacted on their career progression, with an additional 27 % saying that they thought it would inhibit their progression in the future.  
  •    Lack of experience or qualifications was the second highest factor that had inhibited women’s careers to date (according to 22 % of respondents), and the third highest factor cited as a future inhibitor (19 %).
  • Nearly one in five (19 %) of those surveyed said becoming a mother had impacted their career and 25% said they thought it was the second biggest inhibitor to their future careers, after age.
  •    Three out of four (75%) said they have few or no female role models within their organizations. Eight percent said a lack of role models had had a detrimental impact on their career to date.

             “The focus around gender diversity has increasingly been on representation in the boardroom and this is still very important. But the notion that there is a single glass-ceiling for women, as a working concept for today’s modern career, is dead. Professional working women have told us they face multiple barriers on their rise to the top,” says Liz Bingham, Managing Partner for People at Ernst & Young.

            When respondents were asked to identify what three things their company could do to remove these barriers, or better support women’s career progression, they said companies should provide:

  •      More support after returning to work from having children (32 %);
  •    More support at every stage of her career lifecycle (24%)
  •    More visible female role models (19%)

And when asked what government could do, the survey respondents said:

  • Making companies reveal the ‘pay gap’ between men and women. (45%);
  •     Affordable child-care/ tax relief for childcare. (43%);
  •    Flexible work policies.  (28%).

New Record for Discrimination Claims

Employment discrimination charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reached an all-time high in 2011.

A total of 99,947 charges of employment discrimination were filed with the EEOC in Fiscal 2011, compared to  99,922 in Fiscal 2010. This sets a new record for discrimination claims.

Once again, charges alleging retaliation under all the statutes the EEOC enforces were the most numerous at 37,334 charges received, or 37.4 percent of all charges, followed by charges of race discrimination ( 35,395) and sex discrimination (28,534).

Other allegations include:

  • Disability discrimination–25,742
  • Age discrimination—23,465
  • National Origin  discrimination – 11,833
  • Religious discrimination – 4,151
  • Color discrimination – 2,832
  • Equal Pay Act – 919
  • Genetic Discrimination Act – 245

The EEOC filed 300 lawsuits in 2011, which resulted in $91 million of relief.  Twenty-three of the lawsuits involved systemic allegations involving large numbers of people.

Through its combined litigation, enforcement, mediation programs, the EEOC obtained  $455.6 million in relief for private sector, state, and local employees and applicants,  an increase of more than $51 million from the 2010 fiscal year and a new record for the agency.

Of possible interest to workplace anti-bully advocates, the EEOC’s enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) produced the highest increase in monetary relief among all of the statutes the EEOC enforces: the administrative relief obtained for disability discrimination charges increased by almost 35.9 percent to $103.4 million.  Back impairments were the most frequently cited impairment under the ADA, followed by other orthopedic impairments, depression, anxiety disorder and diabetes. Many of these ADA claims could be stress related – targets of workplace bullying suffer high levels of stress that are blamed for short-and long-term physical impairment.

The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

The fiscal year 2011 enforcement and litigation statistics, which include trend data, are available on the EEOC’s website at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/index.cfm

The Veil over the U.S. Supreme Court

In Cleveland, puppets are being used by a TV station to reenact excerpts from a political corruption trial that is closed to the public … Why not have puppets reenact  U.S. Supreme Court hearings?  Big Bird could play Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Abbie Cadabby could play Elena Kagen. PGB

 

Our society is increasingly divided between the “haves” and the “have nots,” with the vast majority of Americans now strongly disapproving of the way that government is operating.

The President and the U.S. Congress receive much of the blame because they are seen fumbling in prime-time under glare of the television spotlight. But there is another equally or even more powerful branch of government that manages to stay out of the spotlight – the judiciary, led by the U.S. Supreme Court.

If you think that corporations have disproportionate influence in American government, you need only look to the Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010), holding that corporate funding of “independent” political broadcasts in elections is protected speech under the First Amendment. That ruling alone has spurred a tsunami of money into partisan election politics from corporations seeking to advance their interests.

Most people today “watch” their news on television or the Internet. Refusing to be televised is akin to insisting in 1440 that the bible be penned in ink by monks, longhand, rather than printed on the newfangled Gutenberg printing press. However, federal judges are elected for life and if they don’t want to be televised then who’s going to make them?

Now the Court is getting another opportunity to affect the balance of interests between corporate America and the average American. The Court has agreed to review the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, which is being challenged by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business.

A recent USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found that 72% of the people surveyed think the Court should allow cameras to televise oral arguments on the health care law, which are scheduled to be held in March.

Courts in the United States generally are unsympathetic to issues surrounding workplace abuse and unfair dismissal,  especially when compared to courts in many other industrialized societies.  Last summer, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to certify a class action involving 1.5 million workers at Walmart who allege sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. The Court’s ruling will have an enormous  impact upon the ability of workers to secure fair treatment in the workplace.

Unfortunately, most non-union workers are clueless about how few  protections they really have until  they are escorted from the building with their possessions in a cardboard box.  Televising the proceedings of the U.S. Supreme Court is important to the goal of having an informed and educated public. Or is that what the Court is afraid of?