Reuters blog archive
from Alison Frankel:
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has been known on occasion to buck the judicial trend of deference to arbitration and champion plaintiffs' rights to class action litigation. But not if the only justification for classwide litigation is a phantom statutory right. In a notably short and emphatic decision issued Thursday in a closely watched sex discrimination case against Goldman Sachs, a three-judge appellate panel reversed a lower-court ruling that former Goldman managing director Lisa Parisi may pursue a class action despite the mandatory arbitration clause in her employment contract. The appeals court agreed with just about every argument by Goldman's lawyers at Sullivan & Cromwell, ruling that the bank's arbitration clause does not preclude Parisi's statutory rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act because she has no private cause of action to claim that her employer engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination.
A contrary ruling by the 2nd Circuit would have punched a huge hole in employment agreements mandating individual arbitration. Instead, the appeals court acknowledged that employers can curtail class actions against them, even when they're accused of violating employees' civil rights.
The 2nd Circuit panel (Judges Barrington Parker, Reena Raggi and Gerard Lynch) said that U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis and U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand erred when they found that Parisi could not vindicate her Title VII rights without classwide litigation. Parisi's trial lawyers at Outten & Golden had persuaded the lower courts that she could only prove Goldman's supposed pattern or practice of discrimination - and thus assure her statutory civil rights - through a class action, because her employment agreement prohibited classwide arbitration. But the 2nd Circuit sided with Goldman. As an initial matter, the opinion said, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 contains specific language endorsing arbitration as a vehicle for resolving discrimination claims, and courts have "consistently found" that civil rights claims can be subject to arbitration. Moreover, the court said, the pattern-or-practice method of proof is intended to enable the government to enforce Title VII on behalf of employees, not to give private plaintiffs a freestanding cause of action. And since Parisi has no statutory right to pursue a pattern-or-practice class action, the 2nd Circuit held, she cannot rely on that right to invalidate the mandatory arbitration clause in her employment contract.
There are rare circumstances that justify exceptions to mandatory arbitration clauses, the panel noted. The 2nd Circuit illuminated one of them last year in American Express Co v.Italian Colors Restaurant, in which the court held that American Express's mandatory arbitration agreements with merchants cannot preclude an antitrust class action because otherwise, merchants couldn't afford to pursue their Sherman Act claims. If you're wondering whether the panel in the Parisi case seemed at all daunted by the U.S. Supreme Court'sdecision to review the 2nd Circuit decision in American Express, the answer is no. The Parisi opinion does not mention oral arguments before thejustices in the American Express case, which took place on Feb. 27.
from Photographers Blog:
By Khaled Abdullah
The “Arab Spring” revolutions have helped societies in countries throughout the Middle East achieve hopes of change. But in Yemen, one group is still a long way from achieving its dreams.
The Akhdam, Yemen's marginalized black minority, has suffered for centuries from perpetual discrimination and cultural persecution, and they are seen as "untouchables" at the bottom of the country’s social hierarchy.
Islamic countries set aside their 12-year campaign to have religions protected from "defamation", allowing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Genea to approve a plan to promote religious tolerance on Thursday. Western countries and their Latin American allies, strong opponents of the defamation concept, joined Muslim and African states in backing without vote the new approach that switches focus from protecting beliefs to protecting believers.
A British Christian couple opposed to homosexuality because of their faith lost a court battle in London on Monday over the right to become foster carers. The couple, who are Pentecostal Christians, had gone to court after a social worker expressed concerns about them becoming respite carers after they said they could not tell a child that a "homosexual lifestyle" was acceptable.
Eunice and Owen Johns, both in their 60s and from Derbyshire in the English midlands, asked judges to rule that their faith should not be a bar to them becoming carers, and that the law should protect their Christian values.
A U.N. General Assembly committee has once again voted to condemn the "vilification of religion" but support narrowed for a measure that Western powers say is a threat to freedom of expression. The non-binding resolution, championed by Islamic states and opposed by Western countries, passed by only 12 votes on Tuesday in the General Assembly's Third Committee, which focuses on human rights, 76-64 with 42 abstentions. (Photo: United Nations General Assembly in New York September 24, 2010/Keith Bedford)
Opponents noted that support had fallen and opposition increased since last year, when the Third Committee vote was 81-55 with 43 abstentions. The 192-nation General Assembly is expected to formally adopt the measure next month.
A Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan on charges of blaspheming Islam said on Saturday she had been wrongfully accused by neighbours due to a personal dispute, and appealed to the president to pardon her.
Asia Bibi, mother of four, is the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law which rights groups say is often exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores.
The United States on Wednesday unveiled its annual survey of religious freedom, citing countries ranging from North Korea to Eritrea as repressing religious liberties.
Following are some of the conclusions from the State Department's International Religious Freedom Report on eight countries previously named as areas of "special concern" over their limits on religious freedom.
The makers of a new movie about family life for black Muslims in America want to highlight challenges facing followers of Islam, just as Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" revealed the racism and harsh realities facing black youth in Brooklyn two decades ago.
(Photo: Rally against proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque near World Trade Center site in New York ,August 22, 2010./Jessica Rinaldi)
The U.S. Justice Department has said it is monitoring 11 cases of potential land-use discrimination against Muslims, a sharp increase in cases under a federal law designed to protect religious minorities in zoning disputes.
In a report on discrimination against mosques, synagogues, churches and other religious sites, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said on Tuesday it has monitored 18 cases of possible bias against Muslims over the past 10 years.
If you're a teacher in Germany and are unsure whether to allow your Muslim pupils to pray at school, to skip swimming lessons or wear the veil, you may want to consult a new handbook aimed at dealing with the sometimes tricky task of reconciling Muslim practices with German schooling.
Berlin's Ministry for Education, Science and Research has just published a guide called "Islam and School" giving practical advice on how to resolve these issues and encourage "people to live together respectfully and peacefully", which you can find in German here.