From Senator Levin

Dear Ms. Gautreau:

Thank you for contacting me about the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act of 2012 (S.3317). I appreciate hearing your views on this subject.

On June 20, 2012, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act (S.3317).  This legislation is in response to the Wal-Mart v Dukes Supreme Court decision in June 2011 and would establish an alternative mechanism for filing class action lawsuits.  In Wal-Mart v Dukes, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that prevented Betty Dukes from proceeding with a lawsuit on behalf of the female Wal-Mart employees.  Employees can form a class and file a lawsuit if they are able to establish certain requirements outlined in Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  Rule 23 identifies commonality, numerosity, typicality, and adequacy as four required criteria to form a class.  In Dukes v. Wal-Mart, the Supreme Court ruled that the Wal-Mart group lacked commonality and would need to show “convincing proof” of company-wide discrimination to file a class action lawsuit.  In effect, this decision narrowed the scope of what is acceptable for a group of plaintiffs to receive class certification and proceed with a trial.

     If enacted, the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act would create a new judicial procedure, known as group action, that could be used in employment discrimination cases and would allow one or more plaintiffs to file class actions. This legislation would not require plaintiffs to prove their case at the class certification stage under group action.  Proponents of this legislation argue it would make it easier for plaintiffs to bring forward discrimination cases. Opponents argue that the Supreme Court has adequately limited class action lawsuits in an effort to limit frivolous cases and put a burden on the judicial system.

  This legislation has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further action.  Similar legislation (H.R.5978) was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in the House of Representatives on June 20, 2012, and has been referred to the relevant committees of jurisdiction for further consideration.  Should this or similar legislation come before the full Senate, I will keep your views in mind.

Thank you again for contacting me.

Carl Levin

Written with a Light Touch

Caitlin Moran’s runaway-hit book, How to Be a Woman, has crossed the pond to dock in America. Her combined rant, manifesto, and memoir serves a singular thesis: to make women proud to be feminists.
“When I talk to girls, they go, ‘I’m not a feminist.’ And I say: ‘What? You don’t want to vote? Do you want to be owned by your husband? Do you want your money from your job to go into his bank account? If you were raped, do you still want that to be a crime? Congratulations: you are a feminist.’”
Looks like a trip to Barnes and Noble may be in order!

From Shirley Damps

AAUW-Dearborn branch member, Shirley Damps, forwarded this wonderful photograph from the Henry Ford here in Dearborn. Part of her description of the Ragtime Street Fair in the village follows: What an amazing day!


Music from the early 20th century accompanies dancers in period-perfect costumes! Visitors, friends and children listen to Teddy Roosevelt deliver a rousing speech.Strollers don costumes that illuminate culture of the time period. A baby tastes an old-fashioned dill pickle. The Cohen ladies create to-order hats. Happy ladies walk around the village wearing new hats and carrying boxes. Vendors sell fresh fruit and popular items of the time period.


Last-but-not-least, colorfully dressed ladies fight for the right to vote. What a time it was!



America’s Bifurcation

In “The Opportunity Gap,” David Brooks calls Harvard political-scientist Robert Putnam’s research on the growing disparities in child raising “horrifying.” The following condenses Brooks’ column substantially, but all the words are his.

The children of the more affluent and less affluent are raised in starkly different ways and have different opportunities.

A generation ago, working-class parents spent slightly more time with their kids than college-educated parents. Now college-educated parents spend an hour more every day. This attention gap is largest in the first three years of life when it is most important.

Affluent parents also invest more money in their children. Over the last 40 years upper-income parents have increased the amount they spend on their kids’ enrichment activities, like tutoring and extra curriculars, by $5,300 a year. The financially stressed lower classes have only been able to increase their investment by $480, adjusted for inflation.

Richer kids are roughly twice as likely to play after-school sports. They are more than twice as likely to be the captains of their sports teams. They are much more likely to do nonsporting activities, like theater, yearbook and scouting. They are much more likely to attend religious services.

Poorer kids have become more pessimistic and detached. Social trust has…plummeted among the poorest third of young Americans…. As a result, poorer kids are less likely to participate in voluntary service work that might give them a sense of purpose and responsibility. Their test scores are lagging. Their opportunities are more limited.

…more children are born out of wedlock. Their single parents simply have less time and resources to prepare them for a more competitive world. Working-class jobs were decimated, meaning that many parents are too stressed to have the energy, time or money to devote to their children.

Affluent, intelligent people are now more likely to marry other energetic, intelligent people. They raise energetic, intelligent kids in self-segregated, cultural ghettoes where they know little about and have less influence upon people who do not share their blessings.

Equal opportunity, once core to the nation’s identity, is now a tertiary concern.

Liberals are going to have to be willing to champion norms that say marriage should come before childrearing….

Conservatives are going to have to be willing to accept tax increases….so that more can be spent on…programs that benefit the working class.

Political candidates will have to spend less time trying to exploit class divisions and more time trying to remedy them….

…the alternative is national suicide.

VICTOR Borgnine!

This just in from the New York Times: “Ernest Borgnine, Oscar-winning actor, is dead at 95.  Ernest Borgnine, the rough-hewn  actor who seemed destined for tough-guy characters but won an Academy Award for embodying the gentlest of souls, a lonely Bronx butcher, in the 1955 film Marty, died Sunday in Los Angeles.”

On my very first trip to Europe, I literally bumped into Ernest Borgnine in front of the Carlton Hotel, located in the heart of la Croisette in Cannes, overlooking the Mediterranean sea in the South of France.

Young, flustered and flummoxed, I stammered wonderingly and incorrectly, “VICTOR Borgnine.”

He grinned that big, gap-toothed grin and said genially, “No, ERNEST Mature.”

What a sweet, good-humored, lovely man! He’ll be missed my many. And I’ll never forget his NOT demeaning my mistake!