Every day, married couples make decisions about how to allocate work within their relationships. Some couples specialize, with one person performing a breadwinning role and the other doing the lion’s share of caregiving tasks. Others divide breadwinning and caregiving tasks fairly evenly, and still others perform the breadwinning role together while outsourcing caregiving to housekeepers, gardeners, and nannies. When spouses make a decision about how to allocate work, the decision often feels like a private choice. Feminist scholars have long argued that, to the contrary, choices regarding breadwinning and caregiving are largely shaped, or even coerced, by law.
Deborah Widiss’s article Changing the Marriage Equation provides a new way of analyzing the complicated interaction of law, social norms, and individual choice that leads to gendered roles in marriage. Widiss argues that choices regarding the allocation of paid and care work are profoundly shaped by three factors, which together make up what she calls the “the marriage equation.” Two of the factors of the marriage equation are legal—sex-based classifications within marriage law, and the substantive law of marriage. The third is social—the gender norms of marriage. The article argues that all three factors affect couples’ decisions about the allocation of labor. Widiss also argues that the first factor, sex-based classifications within marriage law, was largely dismantled during the equal protection revolution of the 1970s, but that the other two factors continue to work together to produce gendered outcomes in the allocation of work within marriages. She then suggests that same-sex marriage can provide a natural experiment for assessing the relative strength of substantive marriage law and gender roles within the marriage equation. Continue reading "Reconsidering Work and Family with “the Marriage Equation”"
Citizens United remains in the public consciousness long past the normal half-life for a Supreme Court decision. The notion that “corporations are people” has become a punch line in a variety of contexts—proof of the absurdity of the Court’s opinion. While the decision itself simply freed corporations from the constraint of political action committees in their election-related spending, it has engendered continued outrage and cynicism at both the political process and corporations themselves. The fact that the opinion extended these rights to unions, as well, has received much less attention. Perhaps more importantly, the decision has ramifications for the future of corporate and union political activity that are yet to be fully developed. Two labor law scholars explore these ramifications in articles seeking to extend the principles of Citizens United to familiar labor law doctrines, with creative and thought-provoking results.
For Charlotte Garden, the Citizens United decision offers the opportunity to extend the argument she began in an early article: namely, that union speech deserves greater constitutional protection. In her Citizens, United piece, Garden uses the opinion as a springboard for reconsidering two significant restrictions on union speech: the prohibitions on union secondary activity and the objection rights of employees covered by union security clauses. She argues that the distinction between “public-issue” picketing and boycotts (by groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church) and “economic” picketing and boycotts (by unions) is vulnerable in light of Citizen United, which held that the corporation’s motive is irrelevant to First Amendment protection. Because both corporations and unions cannot be stopped from engaging in political speech, Garden suggests that union campaigns may be protected if they take on more public-interested oriented themes. And she also points out that since Citizens United overrode the concerns of objecting shareholders to corporate political speech, that opinion undercuts the protections for employees who object to paying union dues that fund political speech. Although acknowledging that the analogy is “not an exact one,” Garden argues that protecting union objectors but not shareholder objectors is a tough distinction to maintain, given that in both cases speech rights are pitted against administrative burdens, but with differing results. Continue reading "Labor Speech is Corporate Speech"
Scott Peppet’s article Unraveling Privacy: The Personal Prospectus & the Threat of a Full Disclosure Future has offered a fundamental challenge to reigning privacy paradigms in cyberlaw. The old privacy law assumed that the right set of laws could help individuals hide embarrassing facts or disable invasive tracking. The encroaching “full disclosure future” ensures that those who try to maintain secrets look like they have “something to hide.” We used to be afraid of shadowy watchers collecting incriminating “digital dossiers;” now we worry over not measuring up when rivals reveal better “personal prospectuses” than our own. Peppet’s elegant interweaving of social science and law renders us unable to rely on old privacy paradigms like “notice and consent” online.
Something to Hide
Traditionally, privacy law experts have assumed that a combination of markets and law can preserve privacy. Firms will compete to offer more or less privacy. Data collectors will provide customers with various “privacy settings” that tailor online services to optimize self-disclosure. Some have proposed “personal data vaults” to manage the emanations of sensor networks that track movements and actions in real space. Jonathan Zittrain’s classic article on “privication” proposed that the same technologies used by copyrightholders to monitor or stop dissemination of works could be adopted by patients concerned about the unauthorized spread of health information. Continue reading "The End of “Notice and Consent” as Meaningful Privacy Protection"
Patrick Shin, Liability for Unconscious Discrimination? A Thought Experiment in the Theory of Employment Discrimination Law, Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 10-21
, Hastings L. J.
(forthcoming), available at SSRN
It’s not that the question hasn’t been adverted to in much of the cognitive bias scholarship in the employment discrimination area, but most of the articles to date have focused on the empirical questions of the degree to which “implicit bias” exists and the extent to which it might influence real world employment decisions. As for whether truly unconscious discrimination is illegal, the analysis is often extremely truncated. The most common answer is essentially a textualist argument (often by scholars who would eschew that approach in other contexts). That is, those who would make such bias actionable, look to Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination “because of” race or sex and conclude that, where it can be proven to have resulted in an adverse employment action, unconscious bias is prohibited. Another common reaction is to look to the Court’s various condemnations of stereotyping and equate them with cognitive bias, although it is not so clear that, say, the partners in Price Waterhouse weren’t aware that they were unhappy that Ann Hopkins wasn’t conforming to views about appropriate behavior for women.
The absence of deep analyses of what Patrick Shin in Liability for Unconscious Discrimination calls the “naïve question” he addresses — “should implicit bias be a basis for disparate treatment liability” — is understandable. Before we make definitive judgments about whether certain conduct should be illegal, we probably should understand it better than we do at this point in our history. Plus, in the garden-variety employment discrimination case, the hard question is rarely reached because the jury is inferring bias from conduct, and whether the bias is conscious but covert or merely implicit doesn’t matter. Of course, one can imagine issues which force the legal question to the surface – whether to admit expert testimony on cognitive biases, for example, or whether the jury should be instructed that, if they believe the defendant’s disavowal of bias, they must find for it. But it’s not an accident that, fifteen years after Professor Krieger wrote Content of Our Categories, we still don’t have a judicial answer to the question of the legal significance of the phenomenon. Continue reading "Taking Cognizance of Cognitive Bias"