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Discrimination

Labor and Employment Law

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

Articles 1 - 12 of 12

Full-Text Articles in Law

Disbelief Doctrines, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2018

Disbelief Doctrines, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

Employment discrimination law is riddled with doctrines that tell courts to believe employers and not workers. Judges often use these disbelief doctrines to dismiss cases at the summary judgment stage. At times, judges even use them after a jury trial to justify nullifying jury verdicts in favor of workers.

This article brings together many disparate discrimination doctrines and shows how they function as disbelief doctrines, causing courts to believe employers and not workers. The strongest disbelief doctrines include the stray comments doctrine, the same decisionmaker inference, and the same protected class inference. However, these are not the only ones. Even ...


Justice Kennedy's Big New Idea, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2016

Justice Kennedy's Big New Idea, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

In a 2015 case, the Supreme Court held that plaintiffs could bring disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act (the "FHA"). In the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy relied heavily on the text and supporting case law interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII") and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the "ADEA '). Without explicitly recognizing the powerful new idea he was advocating, Justice Kennedy's majority opinion radically reconceptualized federal employment discrimination jurisprudence. This new reading of Title VII and the ADEA changes both the theoretical framing of the discrimination statutes and greatly expands their scope ...


Retaliation And The Reasonable Person, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2015

Retaliation And The Reasonable Person, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

When a worker complains about discrimination, federal law is supposed to protect that worker from later retaliation. Recent scholarly attention focuses on how courts limit retaliation claims by narrowly framing the causation inquiry. A larger threat to retaliation law is developing in the lower courts. Courts are declaring a wide swath of conduct as insufficiently serious to constitute retaliation.

Many courts hold that it is legal for an employer to threaten to fire a worker, to place the worker on administrative leave, or to negatively evaluate the worker because she complained about discriminatory conduct. Even if the worker has evidence ...


Let's Pretend Discrimination Is A Tort, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2014

Let's Pretend Discrimination Is A Tort, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

In the past decade, the Supreme Court has repeatedly invoked tort common law to interpret federal discrimination statutes. During this same time period, the Supreme Court increasingly invoked textualism as the appropriate methodology for interpreting these statutes. One immediate effect of these two trends - tortification and textualism - is to restrict discrimination law by tightening causal standards.

This Article explores how interpreting discrimination statutes through the lenses of tort law and textualism can expand, rather than restrict, discrimination law. It assumes that courts will continue to characterize discrimination statutes as torts and as deriving from the common law, despite strong arguments ...


Torts And Civil Rights Law: Migration And Conflict: Symposium Introduction, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2014

Torts And Civil Rights Law: Migration And Conflict: Symposium Introduction, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

Curiously, the connection between civil rights and civil wrongs has not been a topic that has captivated the attention of large numbers of legal scholars over the years. The distance that has developed between the two fields likely reflects their placement on opposite sides of the public-private divide, with Title VII and other anti-discrimination statutes forming part of public law, while torts is a classic, private law subject. To compound the division, both subjects are to some extent still under-theorized. Employment discrimination scholarship is often caught up in the process of analyzing the doctrinal implications of the latest Supreme Court ...


The Tort Label, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2014

The Tort Label, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

Courts and commentators often label federal discrimination statutes as torts. Since the late 1980s, the courts increasingly applied tort concepts to these statutes. This Article discusses how courts placed employment discrimination law within the organizational umbrella of tort law without examining whether the two areas share enough theoretical and doctrinal affinities.

While discrimination statutes are torts in some general sense that they do not arise out of criminal law and are not solely contractual, it is far from clear that these statutes are enough like traditional torts to justify the reflexive and automatic use of tort law. Employment discrimination statutes ...


Beyond Mcdonnell Douglas, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2013

Beyond Mcdonnell Douglas, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

Since 1973, the McDonnell Douglas framework has been a key analytical structure in employment discrimination law. Academic debate regarding the framework has alternately sounded its death knell, posited its irrelevance, or asserted its continued vitality. What has gone unnoticed in this discussion is the gradual weakening of the framework over the past two decades. Rather than casting this test into oblivion, courts are slowly chipping away at its preeminent place as a proof structure.

Little by little, courts are gradually eroding the McDonnell Douglas test's power through both procedural and substantive means. Procedurally, courts have questioned, rejected or diminished ...


Discrimination Statutes, The Common Law, And Proximate Cause, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2013

Discrimination Statutes, The Common Law, And Proximate Cause, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

The Supreme Court has recently hinted that courts should use proximate cause in Title VII cases. This Article anticipates future judicial forays into this area and argues that proximate cause principles should not be imported into federal discrimination law. This inquiry dovetails into a broader conversation about the proper role of proximate cause in federal statutes, a subject which has produced a fractured jurisprudence.

Courts and commentators have often indicated that employment discrimination law is a tort. While this statement may be true, it is too general to provide guidance on whether to apply proximate cause. It ignores that both ...


Revitalizing State Employment Discrimination Law, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2013

Revitalizing State Employment Discrimination Law, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

Over the past few decades, federal discrimination law has become captive to an increasingly complex web of analytical frameworks. The courts have been unable to articulate a consistent causation or intent standard for federal law or to provide a uniform account of the type of injury the plaintiff is required to suffer. Part of this failure is demonstrated in the ever-increasing rift between how courts construct the discrimination inquiry for federal age discrimination claims and claims based on other traits, such as sex and race.

Unfortunately, the courts are unnecessarily taking state employment discrimination claims into this federal morass. When ...


Complying With Export Laws Without Importing Discrimination Liability: At Attempt To Integrate Employment Discrimination Laws And The Deemed Export Rules, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2008

Complying With Export Laws Without Importing Discrimination Liability: At Attempt To Integrate Employment Discrimination Laws And The Deemed Export Rules, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

The federal deemed export rules prohibit certain individuals from receiving any information about certain technologies without the required license, even if those individuals are otherwise authorized to work within the United States. In other words, employers who deal with technology or software subject to export control may be considered to be illegally exporting such technology or software, simply by allowing certain foreign nationals to work with or gain information about the restricted items.

This article will attempt two moderately simple tasks and one more difficult. The first task is to identify the tensions that exist between the deemed export rules ...


Recreating Diversity In Employment Law By Debunking The Myth Of The Mcdonnell Douglas Monolith, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2007

Recreating Diversity In Employment Law By Debunking The Myth Of The Mcdonnell Douglas Monolith, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

The McDonnell-Douglas framework is one of the primary methods used by courts to evaluate discrimination claims based on circumstantial evidence. Although McDonnell-Douglas often is referred to as a singular test, it is actually a collection of different tests gathered rather deceptively under one name. Over the years, federal courts considering state law claims have increasingly applied the McDonnell-Douglas framework to these state claims, without considering whether the same result would occur under state law. The federal courts' rather monolithic view of McDonnell-Douglas is choking debate on important issues of employment law and denying states the ability to weigh in on ...


The Doctrine Of Good Faith In Contract Law: A (Nearly) Empty Vessel?, Emily Houh Jan 2005

The Doctrine Of Good Faith In Contract Law: A (Nearly) Empty Vessel?, Emily Houh

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

Empty Vessel explores both the positive and normative questions of what the contractually implied obligation of good faith does and should require of contracting parties. The Article attempts to assess and evaluate the ways in which courts are currently employing the good faith doctrine in contract disputes, as part of a larger project whose goal is to re-conceive and reinvigorate the private law doctrine of good faith as one that might assist in effecting the public law norm of equality. Empty Vessel identifies two dominant theoretical approaches to how to define good faith, which I refer to as the fairness ...