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High Court: Judges Can Review EEOC Bids to Settle Job Bias

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EEOC
SAM HANANEL, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that federal judges have authority, though limited, to make sure the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is trying hard enough to settle charges of job discrimination before filing lawsuits against employers.

The justices said lower courts can review whether government lawyers were being reasonable during settlement negotiations with companies accused of bias.

Employers have closely watched the case. Many companies have said the EEOC has been overly aggressive in recent years, rushing to file costly lawsuits without trying to resolve disputes informally.

The EEOC has a legal duty to try settling cases first, but the question was how much a court could peer into those negotiations to make sure the EEOC was acting in good faith.

The Obama administration argued that courts should have no role in probing confidential settlement talks. But business groups called for expansive review.

The decision is a narrow victory for an Illinois mining company sued by the EEOC for failing to hire qualified female job applicants. The government alleges that Mach Mining has never hired any female miners since it began operations in 2006, despite getting applications from qualified women.

The company wanted the suit thrown out because it claims EEOC officials didn’t try hard enough to negotiate a settlement before going to court. The administration argued that it is solely up to the EEOC to decide whether terms of a settlement are acceptable.

Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan adopted a middle ground. She said the scope of judicial review is limited and respects the “expansive discretion” the law gives to the EEOC over settlement talks, known as conciliation.

Kagan said the EEOC must inform an employer about specific charges of discrimination and which employees have suffered. The agency must try to engage the employer in a discussion to give the company a chance to stop practices that may discriminate against racial minorities, women or other protected groups.

Kagan said the commission can simply present a sworn affidavit saying it has met these requirements. If a lower court finds the EEOC has fallen short, it can require the commission to resume settlement talks.

EEOC General Counsel David Lopez called the decision “great news for victims of discrimination” and said he was pleased the court “rejected the intrusive review” proposed by Mach Mining.

Federal law requires the EEOC initially to try to stop illegal employment practices by “informal methods of conference, conciliation and persuasion.” But the law allows the EEOC to go ahead with a lawsuit if it has been unable to reach a conciliation agreement “acceptable to the commission.”

A federal judge agreed to review whether the EEOC’s attempt to settle the case against Mach Mining was “sincere and reasonable,” but the government objected. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, saying a company could not raise ineffective settlement effort as a defense.

The Supreme Court’s ruling settles a split among appeals courts as to how deeply judges can probe the EEOC’s settlement efforts. Some courts have required a minimal level of “good faith,” while others have performed a more thorough analysis. The 7th Circuit was the first appeals court to rule that employers cannot try to dismiss EEOC lawsuits by claiming conciliation efforts were lacking.

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Follow Sam Hananel on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SamHananelAP

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Activism

Moms 4 Housing Hold Sit-in Demanding County Supervisors Extend Eviction Protections

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms. Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

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Participants in the sit-in, which began Tuesday afternoon, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.
The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

By Post Staff

Moms 4 Housing held a sit-in in the nonviolent civil disobedience tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., to demand that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors uphold their original vote to pass permanent Just Cause eviction protections for the 60,000 tenants living in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County.

The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms.

Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

The Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), ACCE and EBHO, along with other local activists, are mobilizing outside of the Alameda County Administration Building to stand in solidarity with Moms 4 Housing, an organization focused on uniting mothers, neighbors, and friends to reclaim housing for the Oakland community from the big banks and real estate speculators.

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Bay Area

Season 15 Winner of America’s Got Talent Set to Teach Class at Delta College

According to Delta College officials, Leake was previously an academic advisor at the college and will now teach Digital Media 31.

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San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif. logo. (Photo courtesy of San Joaquin Delta College)
San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif. logo. (Photo courtesy of San Joaquin Delta College)

By Victoria Franco | Bay City News Foundation

Brandon Leake, the season 15 winner of the reality TV show “America’s Got Talent” and a Stockton native, will begin teaching an evening digital media class next Monday at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.

Leake debuted on the show in 2020 by reading a poem that was an ode to his sister and was the first and only spoken word poet to win the competition.

According to Delta College officials, Leake was previously an academic advisor at the college and will now teach Digital Media 31.

The class is a media performance class and lab focused on individual speech improvement, through the study and practice of voice control and manipulation, proper breathing and diction.

Students enrolled in the class will complete a digital media portfolio and the class is transferable in the California State University system.

The class will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. Students wanting to add the class to the schedule can visit their MyDelta portal.

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San Francisco Committee Recommends Massive Reparations Payout for Black Residents

A reparations task committee was established by the state of California last year, and its report from that year detailed the incalculable harm that slavery had caused to African Americans. After George Floyd was murdered, the District of Columbia City Council announced it would create a task team to investigate compensation.

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The San Francisco committee recommended that low-income African Americans get an annual payment equivalent to the region median for at least 250 years, on top of the $5 million payout.
The San Francisco committee recommended that low-income African Americans get an annual payment equivalent to the region median for at least 250 years, on top of the $5 million payout.

‘Centuries of devastation and destruction of Black lives, Black bodies, and Black communities should be met with centuries of restoration’

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Each Black inhabitant of San Francisco, including those arrested during the racist war on drugs, should receive a one-time, lump-sum payment of $5 million from the African American Reparations Advisory Committee.

Assuming the city council approves the proposal, it would be the largest payment of reparations in American history.

In a study released this week, members of the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee noted, “We have ultimately established that the repercussions of numerous programmatic and policy actions by San Francisco’s administration have been generational and overlapping.”

Committee members asserted that most prominent period that illustrates how the city and county of San Francisco as an institution contributed to the depletion of Black wealth and the forced relocation of its Black inhabitants was the period of urban renewal.

Further, the committee concluded that “public and private entities facilitated and coddled the conditions that created near-exclusive Black communities within the city, limited political participation and representation, disinvested from academic and cultural institutions, and intentionally displaced Black communities from San Francisco through targeted, sometimes violent actions”

(San Francisco’s African American population grew rapidly between 1940 and 1963).

To address what the San Francisco Chronicle calls “a national racial reckoning,” the Board of Supervisors established the AARAC committee in December 2020.

According to the Chronicle, what happens next “will demonstrate whether San Francisco lawmakers are serious about tackling the city’s checkered past or are merely pretending to be.”

The committee’s investigation determined that segregation, structural oppression, and racial prejudice developed from the institution of slavery had a tremendous impact on the development of the city, even though California was never formally a slave state.

Throughout the 20th century, the Chronicle reported, “San Francisco was a Ku Klux Klan stronghold, prohibited Black people from residing in particular districts, kept them out of city employment, and bulldozed the Fillmore,” a historically Black neighborhood and commercial center.

AARAC chair Eric McDonnell told the newspaper, “Centuries of devastation and destruction of Black lives, Black bodies, and Black communities should be met with centuries of restoration.”

A tale of two cities emerges when one examines San Francisco, as one observer put it.

This committee’s actions are consistent with those of other jurisdictions, where similar bodies have advocated for reparations for African Americans.

Residents must have self-identified as Black or African American on public documents for a minimum of ten years and be at least 18 years old when the committee’s plan is approved to receive the compensation.

Additionally, individuals may be required to show that they were born in San Francisco between 1940 and 1996, have been residents of the city for at least 13 years, and are either a former inmate themselves or a direct descendant of a former inmate who served time during the war on drugs.

The Chronicle said that “to put that in context,” the state reparations task panel believes Black Californians may be awarded $569 billion for housing discrimination alone between 1933 and 1977.

Evanston, Illinois, voted to pay $400,000 to select African Americans as part of the city’s vow to spend $10 million over a decade on reparations payments shortly after the San Francisco committee was founded.

The government of St. Paul, Minnesota, has apologized for its role in institutional and structural racism and formed a committee to investigate reparations.

A report detailing the committee’s proposed financial compensation for African Americans was subsequently made public.

A reparations task committee was established by the state of California last year, and its report from that year detailed the incalculable harm that slavery had caused to African Americans.

After George Floyd was murdered, the District of Columbia City Council announced it would create a task team to investigate compensation.

Legislators in both Maryland and Virginia have expressed an interest in researching reparations.

Meanwhile, there has been no movement on a federal level on a bill by Texas Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to establish a committee to investigate reparations.

The San Francisco committee recommended that low-income African Americans get an annual payment equivalent to the region median for at least 250 years, on top of the $5 million payout.

As an added measure, the city would establish a public bank framework and provide citizens with extensive financial education to ensure that those without bank accounts have access to equal opportunities, including increased access to credit, loans, financing, and other means of managing their money.

The committee also seeks to pay for a broad debt cancellation plan that wipes out all types of debt including student loans, personal loans, credit card debt, and payday loans.

“Given the history of financial institutions preying on underbanked communities — and especially given the vulnerability of subsets of this population such as seniors and youth — this body recommends putting legal parameters and structures in place to ensure access to funds and to mitigate speculative harm done by others,” the committee concluded.

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