Monday, April 13, 2009

A Great Warrior: Judge Andrew Kleinfeld!

Judge Andrew Kleinfeld, a great warriors in the fight against douchebagery!

"Talk about back wages due: A federal judge in Phoenix this month said that Northern Arizona University owes $1.4 million to a group of professors who have been pursuing justice through the courts since 1995.

"The 40 teachers, all white men, argued that they were discriminated against when the public university gave raises to minority and female faculty members in the early 1990s but not to white males. Not only that -- the plaintiffs said in a Title VII civil-rights suit -- the salary bumps resulted in some favored faculty members earning more than white men in comparable positions.

"The lawsuit and its outcome are yet another striking illustration of the perils of affirmative action, with its often contorted logic of redress and blame and its tendency to commit exactly the sort of discrimination that it was designed to prevent.

"The university may persuade U.S. District Court judge Robert Broomfield to lower the bill for what is effectively back pay to the professors. But the school is also facing a claim for the plaintiffs' legal expenses. Their attorney, Jess Lorona, tells us that, with more than a decade of litigating on both sides totted up, the cost to Arizona taxpayers could soar to $2.5 million.
"What got the school in trouble was not 'catch up' payments per se but the way it made them.
"Even so, 'the reverberations are going to be tremendous,' [the NAU professors'] attorney Lorona predicts. He explains that this decision 'sets out case law about what needs to be done when you're trying to cure pay inequity.'

"Lesson One: You should probably prove that discrimination exists rather than just infer it from dodgy statistics. In 1993, the university's then-president, Eugene M. Hughes, assumed there had been discrimination, based partly on a study he'd commissioned.

"As Judge Broomfield noted in 2004, the initial study ignored factors such as whether people held doctorates. At any rate, the study's own figures indicated that white faculty were earning only about $87 a year more than minorities, and men were making about $751 more than women.

"Mr. Hughes's solution: raises of up to $3,000 for minorities and $2,400 for women. White men got nada.

"So here's Lesson Two and the winning issue in this case: If you want to pay 'catch up' wages to some employees, don't overcompensate to the point where they draw ahead for no reason other than their race or gender.

"As Andrew Kleinfeld, a judge on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote in his 2002 opinion lambasting Mr. Hughes: 'The scheme here was straightforward: Minorities are gold, women are silver, white men are bronze. . . . [E]veryone in America knows that the Constitution prohibits the government from treating some people better than others because they are of a preferred sex or ethnicity.' Well, at least they now know in Arizona." [Emphasis added.]

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