‘Unequal’ Justice: Discriminating Against Discrimination
Suja A. Thomas joins host T. J. O’Hara on Deconstructed to discuss employment discrimination law in the United States. She is a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois with a research focus on civil procedure, employment law, and the proper utilization of juries. Professor Thomas has published a plethora of scholarly articles and is co-author of “Unequal: How America’s Courts Undermine Discrimination Law” and the author of another book.
While we can celebrate the election of the first Black, subcontinental Asian, female Vice President, our Nation still struggles with discrimination based on a variety of suspect categories. One would think that employment discrimination law would be well-settled and a foundation upon which to build a better society. One would be wrong.
Professor Thomas provides an overview of Title VII (which prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on race, sex, color, national origin, and religion), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act and how those laws are supposed to protect us against employment discrimination. Then, she discusses the harsh reality of how difficult it is to even make it to trial let alone survive post-trial motions and appeals.
Professor Thomas begins by sharing a disturbing example of sexual harassment that almost no one could refuse to acknowledge. Unfortunately, the courts use a framework approach that dismisses a majority of cases before they can even make it to trial. T. J.’s guest shares some of the doctrines and inferences that are used to spare the courts the necessity of giving aggrieved individuals their “day in court.”
This interview isn’t meant to be “good news.” It’s meant to be “reality.” Learn what has happened to employment discrimination law over the years… and what needs to be done to repair it.