Monday, April 24, 2017

SB43 - A Bad Missouri Bill Promoting Discrimination

The Missouri Legislature is considering making it much harder to bring discrimination and whistleblower cases. The bill's sponsor, Senator Romines, has a business that is being sued because his management committed vile racist conduct against an employee.

Missouri has been a leader among states in fighting racism, sexual harassment, and other forms of discrimination. Missouri will be the first state, if this bill is passed, to reverse progress in civil rights.

Please call or write your representative in Jefferson City and implore him or her to vote against SB 43. We need to move forward, not backward.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

White Privilege

I am white.  Until recently, I never gave serious thought about white privilege. Sometimes I speed on the highway, past a cop, and I do not get pulled over.  I have gotten many warnings, instead of tickets.

In school, I always got the benefit of the doubt, that I was capable of doing the work. I never had much trouble with job interviews. In court, I am treated with respect,by lawyers, judges, and litigants.

We were poor when I was growing up, but my sister and I always felt that we could succeed. She is a mathematical genius.  We were put in the accelerated classes for the smart kids. We knew we were going to college, even though we needed scholarships and financial aid to get through.

White men had it even easier than we did. They looked for part-time jobs in the "men's" section of the want-ads and got paid more. They were, and generally still are, the bosses. We worked hard at our typing jobs working through college and did okay.

I know of Black executives and politicians who routinely are subject to traffic stops. Most bosses are white men, not people of color. We don't hear the "n" word like I heard it as a kid, but implicit bias is a real thing. The people with the most power are still predominantly white and predominantly men.

I do not know when or if society will change. Change terrifies those with power. People don't willingly give up power, especially when they refuse to acknowledge that they hold the power. Just look at Fox News. A bastion of white, male privilege.  Roger Ailes was bought out for $40,000,000. Let's see what happens to Bill O'Reilly.  I bet neither Ailes nor O'Reilly believes in white privilege, while they continue to profit from despicable behavior.

Monday, April 3, 2017

My Letter to Governor Greitens. (PLEASE OPPOSE SB43)

I sent the following letter to Governor Greitens in early March, 2017:

Dear Governor Greitens:

I am writing this letter to you about the Missouri Human Rights Act.  However, there is so much more I would like to tell you.  As you were running for Governor, I did some research about you and I feel I can relate to you.  I believe our upbringings were similar.  I am Jewish and my mother, grandparents and great-grandmother fled Nazi 
Germany in 1938, days before Kristallnacht, to live in the United States.  Unfortunately, many of my relatives were denied immigration status to the U.S. and perished in Auschwitz.  Being lucky enough to survive religious persecution, I became a civil rights lawyer, mainly representing victims of discrimination in employment.  I read that you were taught by Holocaust survivors and I imagine you understand my motivation.

I am a plaintiffs' lawyer and I know that is not popular with many people.  While I believe that the little guy deserves competent representation in lawsuits, quite frankly, I believe discrimination cases are different than other types of lawsuits.  Our country is special because we protect those who are disadvantaged by others because of their religion, race, sex, age and disability.  I have always been proud to be a Missourian, because Missouri protects the rights of minorities.  Without civil rights protections, I probably could not have gone to law school or gotten the education I did.  I am proud that we have a Jewish governor, something I never thought would happen in Missouri.

I have been to the National Archives and seen the original bill proposed for  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In 1964, when Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was passed, Southern senators did not want a bill that gave equal rights in employment to African-Americans, so they wrote in another category thinking that it would kill the bill.  They added "sex" as a protected class, and the bill passed anyway.  That is how women came to be protected in employment discrimination and that was the genesis of anti-sexual harassment decisions.

If the limitations on civil rights proposed in SB 43 and similar statutes in the House are passed, civil rights of minorities are in jeopardy.  Unfortunately, we have not eradicated unlawful discrimination and the discrimination laws do make a difference.  When I started trying sexual harassment cases in 1994, the harassment was horrendous.  Bosses were sexually assaulting female employees in the cases I tried.  After more than twenty  years, sexual harassment is far less common and I attribute the societal awareness to women with the courage to come forward and complain.  The changes to the law proposed by the legislature will discourage victims from coming forward.  I respectfully request that you veto any bill restricting civil rights.  Missouri has always been progressive, passing a discrimination law in 1959, five years before the federal government passed Title VII.  I have always been proud of our state's commitment to equality and fairness.  Please make sure that Missouri's commitment to civil rights is not compromised.

Lynne Jaben Bratcher

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Retaliation. All Too Common

It is unlawful to retaliate against someone who brings a charge of discrimination. It is. But human nature, being what it is, retaliation is a fact of life. Some people retaliate, and tell themselves they are not.  No one is above retaliation. People in responsible jobs retaliate. Public servants retaliate. Famous people retaliate.

I have a case where I just discovered a well known person with considerable public responsibility retaliated against my client who was already being retaliated against by his supervisor. It's really despicable. I can not divulge any more about the case, since it's ongoing. I wish there was a way to test a person's character before placing him or her in positions of power.  As our president would say, "Sad!" Retaliation can destroy a person. It is really sad.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Human Rights Are For Everyone, Including Muslims

Today I was at the FDR Library in Hyde Park, New York. The special exhibit displayed the consequences and reality of Japanese Internment Camps. Despicable. The United States is not immune from discrimination, and history proves this.  We were a nation founded on original sin - slavery.  We have discriminated against the Irish, the Italians, Jews, Asians, etc.  Now there have always been people in this country who fight prejudice, like Eleanor Roosevelt. But, too many of us react derisively against anyone who is not like them or believes differently or were raised in a different ethnic environment.

Now we our President is trying to ban Muslims. Again, despicable. I can argue why this mindset is reprehensible, but I shouldn't have to argue why that is. You know why Islamophobia is repugnant. I don't need to tell you why. You know. I am embarrassed that we still treat people so badly. Sigh.......

Sunday, March 12, 2017

REPOST - Getting Affordable Health Care At Any Age

Do you need health insurance and you are scared Obamacare will be repealed. Here is what you should do:

1.  Apply to be a "community" or "visiting" student at a college like the University of Missouri-Kansas City. No need for transcripts, etc.  adjust get permission to take a course for credit. (I have taken the History of Rock and Roll, Physics for Non-Majors, and Women's Studies.) This semester I am taking Ancient Classic Literature. 

2.  Enroll in the course. Take the class.  An added benefit is learning new things. A three credit hour class costs about $1000 a semester.  

3.  Sign up for domestic student health insurance. At UMKC it is with Aetna. You can sign up per semester, or on August 15, for a year. The annual cost is approximately $2500. The insurance is great, since most people in the group are 18-22 year olds. $4500 per year (a class for 2 semesters, plus the insurance) averages $375 per month, about half of what comparable insurance costs for me, a 64 year old, under Obamacare, assuming no government subsidy. 

The student health insurance for an older non-smoker ineligible for subsidies, like me, is much better than Obamacare, and cheaper, and not subject to political whimsy.  I paid less than $2500 for great health care coverage for an entire year, as compared to $800 per month with the ACA.  Check out the college of your choice. I bet you can find a good deal. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

When Did Civil Rights Become Un-American?

The Missouri Legislature is on the verge of gutting civil rights statutes. The majority party has been trying to look out only for the "big" guy ( read: corporations)!instead of the "little" guy for ten years. Lower verdicts, higher standards of proof, anything to protect businesses that discriminate. This year, chances for a veto are slim. Sigh.   When did it become popular to be mean and heartless?

If you are being sexually harassed at work, or discriminated against because of your religion, race, age, gender or disability, you better complain soon. Time is running out before your Rights are extremely curtailed.

I don't know what to say, except contact your legislators if you disagree with SB43 or whatever else is thrown at regular workers. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice."  That is no consolation to the woman fired because she is pregnant.