Too Hot To Bank?

Posted in Uncategorized on June 3rd, 2010 by bl1y

Debrahlee Lorenzana is suing CitiBank after being terminated.  She believes she was discriminated against for being too smoking hot.  While working as a business banker, her manager made several remarks about her clothing being inappropriate, and forbid her from wearing turtlenecks, pencil skirts, fitted suits, or high heels.  But, when she tried to play down her appearance by getting less dolled up, management criticized her for not wearing makeup and coming to work without her hair straightened.

Lorzenayayayana eventually complained to upper management and got a transfer to another branch.  However, she was employed as a telemarketer there as that branch did not need another business banker.  She complained about being in the wrong position, and was eventually terminated by her new, female, supervisor.

Having been absent the day they taught law at law school, I really have no idea what it would take to successfully claim you were fired for being too hot.  Surely employers have the right to keep a little modesty in their offices.  But what if an employee would look hot even in a potato sack?

Some of the statements she’s made about working at Citi might end up hurting her case:

I don’t have the money to buy a new wardrobe.  I shop where everyone else shops—at Zara!

A quick look at the Zara women’s Woman department shows that they don’t carry suits.  Neither the catalogue nor the lookbook show that the clothes there would be appropriate for a professional office.  While Lorenzana may feel that she was dressed up, maybe she needed a lesson in the difference between dressy casual and business casual.

And while it might be hard to buy a new wardrobe while making $70,000 in New York City (look! a banker making less than a lawyer! haha!), her claim of sartorial hardship doesn’t jive with her “five closets full of Burberry, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Roberto Cavalli.”

Also, I’m not really sure how this would make it in at trial, but it’s probably not a good idea to refer to your “Spic pride” when you’re filing a discrimination suit.

[Hat tip to "LucasJackson" over at The Idiot Board who posted the story this morning.  Don't want the folks at ATL thinking I'm ripping them off.  They posted the story shortly before I did, while I was still reading the article.  Yeah...reading it.  Try it.  Then you won't embarrass yourself by suggesting the parties "get an arbitration room already" when the end of the article discusses why arbitration would be a bad idea for the plaintiff.]

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The Dark Side of Barbie

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9th, 2010 by bl1y

White Barbie: $5.93

Black Barbie: $3.00

A Walmart in Louisiana is coming under fire for selling the black Theresa Barbie for about half the price as her white counter part.  The offended-by-default crowd has accused Walmart of perpetuating “ugly inequities,” but perhaps there is a non-discriminatory explanation.

A spokeswoman for Walmart said that the dolls were originally priced the same, but the black doll was placed on clearance because it wasn’t selling well, just as any other product would have been.

What’s that?  Walmart judged Theresa based not on the color of her plastic, but on the content of her market penetration?  Good for Walmart.

The legal industry has seen some similar trends.  Recession layoffs have caused law firm diversity scores to plummet.  But, just with Theresa’s discount pricing, there may be a non-discriminatory reason for minorities getting the bigger end of the recession ax.

Diversity initiatives in law school result in a number of minority students being admitted who would not have been admitted on their academic credentials alone.  If you come in to a school on the bottom of the LSAT/GPA curve, odds are you’re not as smart as the other students.  But, law firms presume that even the bottom quarter of schools like Harvard and Stanford and still exceptionally intelligent.  They recruit largely based on law school prestige, and end up with some people who don’t live up to their expectations.  When the ax drops, it’s more likely to hit someone who got into a top ranked school affirmative action than someone who got in based purely on their merits.

But wait, there’s more.  It’s called math and history.

Integration and equity are not created over night.  Giving access to legal education and big firm jobs to minorities doesn’t instantly create minority partners.  They still have to spend 3 years in school, and another 8-10 years climbing the associate ladder.  The civil rights movement didn’t go back in time 30 years and drop black students into law school. Affirmative action doesn’t find a middle aged black man who would have been a lawyer in an equal society, take him from his job as a social worker and drop him in a law firm as an equity partner.  BALSA does not have a hot tub time machine.

It takes decades to reach racial parity, even when a society is completely just, and so it stands to reason that minority lawyers are generally still in the lower seniority levels.  And, that’s where the layoff ax falls.  The vast majority of laid off attorneys are, quite naturally, associates.  Partner firings are extremely rare.

So, imagine you have a firm with 10 partners (all white) and 20 associates (10 black and 10 white).  The firm is 33% black.  Now, the recession hits and half the associates are laid off at random, leaving us with 5 black and 5 white associates.  The firm is now 25% black.  There is nothing at all discriminatory about what the firm did, but it’s diversity score card just took a major hit, and anyone who constantly wears their discrimination-tinted glasses will immediately cry foul.

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Where are the Data, Cripes!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18th, 2010 by bl1y

Ann Bartow over at the Feminist Law Professors blog posted the list of lateral law faculty moves this year (via TheFacultyLounge.org).  It’s hard to get Professor Bartow’s take (because she didn’t provide commentary) on the fact that the list showed only male professors, but she did put “Cripes!” in the title of the post, and tag it as “The Overrepresesentation of Men” and “The Underrepresentation of Women,” so I think it’s safe to say she thinks that there’s some sort of gender discrimination going on in lateral hiring.

But, before we can legitimately start throwing out accusations of discrimination, we should answer two important questions.  (We can, of course, have illegitimate accusations without any sort of analysis or rational thought.)  First, is there a non-discriminatory explanation; and second, do these moves tend to benefit men?

Without conducting a rather intensive study, we can’t tell why only men were moving.  Maybe it is discrimination, but maybe it’s just that men are generally less satisfied with their jobs.  Maybe very few women even attempted a lateral transfer.

However, based on the list alone, we can look at whether these moves benefit men.  I’ve assumed that professors prefer to teach at better schools, and have used the US News and World Report rankings as a way of judging whether they moved to a better or worse school.  There are plenty of problems with the US News ranks, but I think they’re still useful here.  Only four moves involved schools within 10 ranks of each other So. Cal. to Texas (+3), and UVA to Michigan (-1), Arizona to Florida State (-9), and Marquette to St. John’s (both ranked 87).  Even if US News does not reflect law school quality, it is safe to assume that professors care somewhat about perception of quality and prestige, which the US News rankings are a perfect judge of.

I wanted to do a straight numerical analysis, but many of the moves involved schools without a number rank because they are T3, T4 or have never been scored.  I’ve also decided not to consider two of the moves at all: Professor R. A. Duff moved to Minnesota from the Stirling Philosophy department, and Professor Jeremy Waldron is moving from NYU to Oxford.  I’m just not really sure what to do with either move.

So, looking at just the moves between T1 and T2 schools what do we find?  7 professors made downward moves, with an average loss of 20 ranks, while 6 made upward moves with an average gain of 25 ranks.  More moved down, but the upward moves were better.  I think we can call this a wash.

Now let’s look at moves involving T3, T4 and unranked schools.  Professors from LSU (75), Alabama (30), Capital (T4), and Bloomington (23) moved to unranked schools.  I don’t know whether to call the move from Capital a gain or a loss, but for the other three this looks like a pretty significant drop.  There was also one professor going down from a T3 (Texas Tech) to a T4 (Texas Wesleyan).  If we treat unranked schools as T4, we saw two professors drop 3 tiers, one drop 2 tiers, and one drop 1 tier.

And here are the upward moves: Texas Wesleyan (T4) to Gonzaga (40), Florida International (T4) to Indianapolis (87), Michigan State (T3) to Kansas (65), South Texas (T4) to Loyola (T3), and West Virginia (T3) to Villanova (61).  One professor jumped 3 tiers, one jumped 2, and the rest moved up by 1.

It’s also worth noting that three professors moved to tenure track, which is generally considered a pretty important advancement, but each of those moves involved a significant drop, LSU (75) to Charleston (Not Ranked), American (45) to Depaul (87), and Bloomington (23) to Elon (Not Ranked).

I think the moves down look a bit worse than the moves up, but not by a big enough margin, and the sample size is too small to draw any reliable conclusions, except one: Ann Bartow gets stirred up too easily.  It is interesting that out of 25 lateral moves no women were listed.  But, there’s not enough data to support any claim of discrimination, and not even really enough to back up a blog headline of “Where are the Women, Lateral Hires Edition, Cripes!”

My guess is she just got an early start in the race to be offended.

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Ann Bartow Doesn’t Get Enough Attention

Posted in Uncategorized on February 16th, 2010 by bl1y

The women’s rights page of Change.org posted a parody video in response to the Dodge Charger Man’s Last Stand Super Bowl ad.  I wouldn’t have seen it, except that over on the Feminist Law Professors’ blog Ann Bartow, femtard extraordinaire, posted a link to it.

So that you don’t need to go wandering away from the safe haven that is BL1Y.com and into the wild west of the the feminist internets, I’ll just embed the videos here.  Let’s start with the original dodge commercial

And here’s the parody response:

Now, I admit it’s unfair that for every dollar a man makes, a woman gets 75 cents, because that means that man only has 25 cents left.  (In reality, when controlling for job title, education, seniority, and the like, there is about a 3-4 cent pay disparity, not 25 as this video claims.  But hey, accuracy doesn’t matter do long as you’re a women-firster.)

The whole tone of the Change.org post is that the Dodge commercial is that men can’t be oppressed because women are oppressed.  But anyone with half a brain can tell you that the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of both genders get screwed over.  Men are less likely to graduate from high school or go to college.  They’re more likely to be the victim of a violent crime, and get punished harsher when they’re the perpetrator.  They work the most dangerous jobs and live shorter lives.

But I think what the Dodge Charger commercial was playing in to is that men aren’t allowed to discuss men’s issues.  Any time a man mentions a way in which Western society mistreats men, he is immediately shouted down by women who want to argue that women have it worse, and because they have it worse men aren’t allowed to complain about anything ever.

If an ad discussing female oppression had mass appeal, feminists would claim it as a sign that women are clearly still oppressed.  But an ad that discusses male oppression must just be sexist, right?  Because nothing bad is ever done to men.  No country has ever scooped its poor and middle class male citizens, sent them half way around the world and had them kill the poor and middle class male citizens of another country.  Nahhh…all men are kings.

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Breaking: Women Have, Raise Babies

Posted in Uncategorized on February 16th, 2010 by bl1y

Look out!  A partner at Eversheds had the audacity to recognize that women are generally called or volunteer to act as the primary care taker for their young children!

In an e-mail, the partner asked if there were guidelines available on how to “ask questions properly designed to identify her commitment, hours she is prepared to do, how she will balance work and a child.“  Anyone who is even aware that employment law is a practice area knows that this is a discrimination suit waiting to happen.

The question is why.  Of course we shouldn’t discriminate against someone for being a woman.  But, having a family is (generally) a matter of choice.  Shouldn’t employers be allowed to take someone’s choices into consideration?  The response is that firms will think women, who are generally primary care takers, will not put forth the same level of commitment as a male employee, and so family status will result in discrimination against women.

If it actually is true for a woman that her commitment to her family will result in less commitment to work, then this is something the firm should be allowed to take into consideration.  Any employer ought to be allowed to inquire into other commitments an employee has that will conflict with their work.  It could be a time consuming hobby, a small business they run on the side, anything.  It doesn’t matter that it’s a child, all the company really cares about is whether you’re going to be able to bill 70 hour weeks.  It’s irrational for someone to think that a primary care giver should be allowed to work fewer hours that her coworkers and not be treated differently.

But let’s also consider if it wasn’t true she would work less.  Maybe the father is the primary care taker, a full time house keeper has been hired, or they plan to cut the child’s Achilles’ tendons and leave it in Central Park, Greek pro-choice style.  Shouldn’t we want the firm to be able to ask about this?  The stereotype is that having children means women have less time to devote to their careers.  If you don’t fit the stereotype, wouldn’t you want the opportunity to inform the firm about that, instead of making them silently pass judgment?

The solution to the work/life balancing act of career women is not to pretend that women don’t have children and that they don’t devote time to raising them.  This benefits neither the employer who wants the employees that fit best, nor the mother who needs an employer with realistic expectations.  The only way to really deal with the issue is to allow open communication about it between employers and their employees.

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Legal Market Garden

Posted in Dumb Ideas Girls Have on January 28th, 2010 by bl1y

Looks like it’s time for yet another associate to sue their firm for discrimination.  This time Kamisha Menns, a black Jamaican woman, is suing after being fired from Howrey.  From her complaint, here’s the basic plot:

Menns was working in DC at Freshfields, completely happy and satisfied with her job.  Her complaint actually says she was happy and not looking to change firms.

Menns met a partner from Howrey while at an anti-trust conference who began recruiting her to work at Howrey.  She put in an application to work at Howrey’s Belgium office, was flown in for interviews with twelve different attorneys there.

Howrey then offered Menns a job in Belgium, along with a higher salary, moving expenses, and 10,000 Euro (~14,000 USD) signing bonus.

A bunch of shit that’s in dispute happened, Menns filed a complaint with Howrey’s main office, and then Howrey was fired, a mere 5 months after she was hired.

Menn’s argument is basically that she kept getting work away despite getting good reviews, and the firing was in retaliation for complaining about possible discrimination.  Unfortunately for her, her own account her hiring are pretty strong evidence that there wasn’t any prejudice against her.  You don’t go to that sort of effort to recruit a black women if you’re a bigot.

My guess about what happened is she interviewed really well but turned out to be a substandard lawyer.  The positive reviews were likely the result of people simply being polite and not wanting to insult her.  Attorneys don’t get bad reviews until a firm has decided to build a case for their dismissal.  Otherwise, lawyers being completely spineless wimps, everyone gets a good review.

And if I’m wrong, and she really was discriminated against, just think about what exactly that would mean.  Howrey actively recruited her when she wasn’t looking for a new job.  Did they really go to great lengths hire her for the sole purpose of just firing her a few months later and leaving her stranded in a foreign country with poor job prospects?  If so, is that the type of firm you want to get into a legal battle with?  This isn’t Jim v. Dwight level office pranks.  If Menns’s accusations are true, she should get the hell away from there, quick.

PS: Menns is suing for $30 million dollars.  What a fucking joke.

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #16

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on January 18th, 2010 by bl1y

Whiny minority kids.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Race to Be Offended is a pretty popular sport among ultra left-wing politically correct types, and law school is a breeding ground for them. Normally people say dumb things when they’re in too much of a hurry to consider facts, such as a President calling a police officer stupid for investigating what appeared to be an obvious break in.

Now, imagine combining that level of stupidity with the drunken revelry that takes place on the last day of a semester’s exams in law school.

After the last exams of my 3L Fall semester, I was on the balcony of one of our dorms for the traditional drink-till-your-face-falls-off. Towards the end, a black student and Jewish student got into a rather bizarre argument: who was treated worse, blacks or Jews.

Aside from the fact that it’s strange for anyone to even bother arguing over who’s discriminated against more (they couldn’t just agree that discrimination is bad; everyone wants to be special), what made this particularly bizarre was that they were arguing over which group was most discriminated against in universities.

They went to different schools, but no surprise, black student reported his school treated black students worse and Jewish student reported his school treated Jewish students worse. Both of these students went to mother-freaking Ivy League schools for undergrad.

I knew both students, and neither one was a rags-to-riches story. Both came from wealthy, influential families. They were seriously arguing over who suffered the most from the discriminatory effects of education opportunities afforded to less than .01% of population.

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The Dark Side of Merit Pay

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11th, 2010 by bl1y

UCLA recently held a debate between AbovetheLaw.com eidtor in chief and former editor in chief, Elie Mystal and David Lat. The topic of the debate was whether firms should stick with lock-step promotions or switch to merit based compensation, and part of the debate, as reported on Ms. JD, was that minority and women associates may end up on the losing end of a merit based system. The reason? Old white men with their old white man prejudices will rate women and minorities lower and thus compensate them less.

While I agree that merit based compensation could lead to women and minorities earning less, there is a less politically correct explanation that’s pretty likely. Instead of discrimination being the cause of lower pay, it could be affirmative action.

It’s no secret that law schools use affirmative action (aka: diversity) to admit more students from under-represented minorities (aka: black). What no one likes to mention is that black students generally have far worse undergrad grades and LSAT scores than their white counter parts. In fact, the numbers for the top 25% of black students tends to look like the bottom 25% of white students.

Now, you can chalk this up to black students having worse educational opportunities early on, and that might be the case. But, it still means that black law students are generally just not as smart as their white counter parts (so far as GPAs and LSAT scores measure intelligence). Common sense would say that this would end up getting reflected in their grades, and for the most part it does. Black law students tend to get lower grades, even in classes where grading is based on entirely anonymous exams.

Now, at most law schools, poor grades will result in poor job opportunities. But, at a top 10 school, you can be at the bottom of your class and still get a good job, because the bottom 25% of the top 1% is still really damn smart. Unfortunately, affirmative action means that the bottom 25% might not really be part of the top 1%. And to make problems worse, many top schools no longer give grades, GPAs, or class ranks.

So, law firms looking to recruit top talent will end up hiring minority associates who are in over their heads, and this will naturally result in them earning less under a merit based system. I’m not saying pay won’t be affected by racism, it probably will be. But, we also have to keep in mind the effects of affirmative action in law school admissions.

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