Joleen Spencer Oladeinde
In Support of the FAIR Act and Ending Mandatory Employment Arbitration
The Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act would ban agreements like mandatory arbitration, and allow employees to have recourse to their employers in cases of unequal pay, harassment or discrimination.
In a trend driven by a series of Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1991, American employers have increasingly required their workers to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) finds that 65% of companies with more than 1,000 employees have mandatory arbitration procedures — meaning workers must settle employment disputes through a private mediation system that heavily favors employers, out of the public eye.
Mandatory arbitration is a controversial practice in which a business requires employees to agree to arbitrate legal disputes with the business rather than going to court. Although seemingly voluntary in that the employee can choose whether or not to sign the arbitration agreement, in practice signing the agreement is required if the individual wants to get the job.
EPI research has also found that women and Blacks are more commonly subject to mandatory arbitration than other workers, and that the practice is especially widespread in California, Texas, and North Carolina. Mandatory arbitration has been found to suppress employee claims, make it more difficult for employees to prevail (given that the majority of arbitrators are older White men), and when employees do prevail in arbitration, they are awarded far less in damages.
While some states have taken steps to ban mandatory arbitration provisions in employment agreements, we need a decisive federal ban on such provisions. We encourage you to push forward the re-introduced FAIR Act in both the House of Representatives and the Senate
P.S. Does your company require employees to agree to mandatory arbitration? Drop their name in the comments below. Knowledge is power!
Put Women In the Constitution - Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment
We demand that Congress to eliminate the original deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and push forward the joint resolution that was introduced on January 21, 2021. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-N.Y.).
The ERA is a very simple, yet crucial, amendment putting protection for women and other marginalized genders directly into the Constitution. The United States is an outlier in not having a constitutional provision addressing gender equality. Among 193 UN member states, 85% have a provision in their constitution that specifically addresses gender equality and 115 that have a provision that prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender.
Opponents argue that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment protects against discrimination on the basis of sex. But, that reading of the Amendment is a current interpretation, and it is not assured or guaranteed in the future.
Passage of the ERA would be a significant historic victory for gender equality, and provide a permanent protection against laws that discriminate on the basis of gender. Change would not happen overnight, but the principle and protections the ERA would be Constitutionally protected, providing a permanent and powerful tool to achieve gender equality, including equal pay.
In Support of the “Silenced No More Act
The “Silenced No More Act” is a proposed bill in California that seeks to protect workers against NDAs and other forms of confidentiality agreements, and empower them to speak out about alleged acts of discrimination, including gender, racial and disability discrimination. If passed, advocates say, the legislation would represent a step forward in the fight for equity and labor rights, with potential nationwide impact in the tech industry given the large number of companies headquartered in California.
Current laws, passed in the wake of the #MeToo movement, allow California workers to speak out about gender-based discrimination cases, opening up the possibility of holding perpetrators accountable, but they do not mention other types of discrimination
A Call for C-Suite Diversity
We all know that diversity, equity, and inclusion is not just good for business, it is good business. We’ve all seen the studies and statistics showing that companies with greater diversity and inclusion perform better. Gender-diverse environments in particular are linked to increased retention and engagement, as well as greater innovation and healthier balance sheets.
A 2021 HBR study conducted by Corinne Post, Boris Lokshin, and Christophe Boone confirmed the benefits of women-led executive teams include increased profitability, minimized risk-taking, more collaborative thinking, openness to change, and increased efforts towards socially-informed decision making.
Despite the advantages of an inclusive executive suite, U.S. male executives still outnumber their female counterparts 7-1. The gaps are even larger when it comes to women of color.
In recent years many companies have committed to increased diversity in the C-Suite. We commend those companies that have met these commitments, and continue to increase diversity in their organizations, and will continue to hold accountable those who have not.
Is your C-Suite as diverse as it should be? If not, what steps will you be taking to get there, and what transparency will you provide?
P.S. We encourage all signatories to share the diversity of the C-Suite of their employers in the comments below. With transparency, we can celebrate, or encourage, increased diversity
We Stand With Nikole Hannah-Jones
Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and creator of The 1619 Project, was denied a tenured position at the University of North Carolina (UNC). This denial came after UNC’s board of trustees took the highly unusual step of failing to approve the journalism department’s recommendation for tenure.
It has been reported that Ms. Hannah-Jones is considering legal action against UNC, and there has been pressure from faculty and public for the UNC trustees to immediately hold another vote and grant Ms. Hannah-Jones tenure.
As poignantly stated in by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore and Martha S. Jones in “We Stand in Solidarity With Nikole Hannah-Jones” in The Root:
“We will cheer Nikole Hannah-Jones on when she steps into her classroom at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill this fall. But we will not turn away from the regrettable circumstances under which she will do so. The University’s Board of Trustees has failed to uphold the first order values of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. And too many lawmakers have wrongly deemed it their role to reach into classrooms and tell educators what to teach and how to teach it.
Here, in 2021, we urge you and one another to resist.”