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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Employment Discrimination Law (Spring 2019)

Course Description

This three-credit course will examine the regulation of employment discrimination under federal law.  Primary attention will be paid to issues of race, sex, age and disability discrimination.  Though an introductory course, it will provide students a comprehensive overview of the legal doctrines developed to address workplace discrimination.  The course will address issues of statutory interpretation, litigation strategy and problems of proof.  It will also situate this body of law within a set of sociological and theoretical frameworks aimed to enrich students’ understandings of the law’s foundations and purposes.

Student performance will be evaluated on the basis of class participation (20%) and performance on a take-home final exam (80%).  No paper option will be permitted.  

It is not necessary that I be notified of anticipated absences in advance.  However, students who are absent from class may benefit from contacting me to schedule a time to discuss the materials that were covered during the missed class and to ask any questions that they were unable to ask in class due to their absence.  Excessive absences may require an explanation to avoid a negative impact on the student’s class participation grade.

Laptops and Other Electronic Devices.  Laptop use will be permitted during class strictly for the purpose of note-taking.  No other electronic devices, including cell phones, PDAs, or recording devices will be permitted during class. 

Course Materials. The three required texts for this course are:

the “Casebook” (“CB”) – Dianne Avery et al., Employment Discrimination Law: Cases and Materials on Equality in the Workplace (8th edition);
the “Supplement” (“Supplement”) – Dianne Avery et al., Employment Discrimination Law: Statutory Supplement; and  
the “Selected Supplemental Readings” (“Selected Readings”) – a selection of additional materials distributed throughout the semester to supplement the Casebook via Blackboard and also available in hardcopy through Copyvision.

Class Assignments.  You may wish to read pages 1-16 of the Casebook for a useful background and summary of the relevant bodies of federal law.  You may also wish to read Donald Tomaskovic-Devey & Kevin Stainback, Discrimination and Desegregation:  Equal Opportunity Progress in the U.S. Private Sector Workplaces since the Civil Rights Act, 609 Annals Am. Acad. 49 (2007), copies of which are available on Blackboard and in the Selected Supplemental Readings, as useful background.  The substance of this article will be discussed on our first day of class, but the article itself is not required reading. 

For our first class, please read the first assignment.  Assignments will proceed roughly one per class.  Please read all Casebook notes except where instructed otherwise.  You are also expected to use the Statutory Supplement to the Casebook to review statutory text wherever that text is otherwise referenced in cases or notes found in the Casebook or Selected Readings.

The topics and assignments for the course are, as follow:

1.         Introduction and Theories of Discrimination

Assignment 1:  Selected Readings – Slack v. Havens, No. 72-59-GT, 1973 WL 339 (S.D. Cal. July 17, 1973) (excerpted).
Assignment 2:  Selected Readings – Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971); Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp., 400 U.S. 542 (1971).

2.         Equal Protection and the Reconstruction Civil Rights Acts

Assignment 3:  CB 289-320 (Washington v. Davis; General Building Contractors Ass’n v. Pennsylvania; Jones v. R.R. Donnelley & Son). 

3.         Coverage and Remedies under Federal Employment Discrimination Statutes

Assignment 4:  CB 42-80 (omit Notes 2-4 & 6 on pp. 62-64) (St. Francis v. Al-Khazraji; Clackamas Gastroenterology Assocs. v. Wells), 569-70 (only Note 8)

4.         Individual Disparate Treatment

Assignment 5:  CB 88-100 (McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green; Furnco Constr. Corp. v. Waters), 109-18 (omit Notes 1 & 5); Selected Readings – Hishon v. King & Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69 (1984) (excerpted).
Assignment 6:  CB 118-34 (St. Mary’s Honor Ctr. v. Hicks); Selected Readings – Vaughn v. Edel, 918 F.2d 517 (5th Cir. 1990); Eric Luis Uhlmann & Geoffrey L. Cohen, Constructed Criteria: Redefining Merit to Justify Discrimination, 16 Psych. Sci. 474 (2005).
Assignment 7:  CB 134-59 (Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins; Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa)

5.         Systemic Disparate Treatment

Assignment 8:  CB 337-42 (City of Los Angeles Dep’t of Water & Power v. Manhart), 358-85 (Int’l Union, United Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls).
Assignment 9:  CB 195-214 (Teamsters v. United States; Hazelwood Sch. Dist. v. United States), 355-58 (background materials on Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes); Selected Readings – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes.

6.         Systemic Disparate Impact

Assignment 10:  CB 217-44 (review Griggs v. Duke Power Co.; Connecticut v. Teal; Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust).
Assignment 11:  CB 245-52 (Ward’s Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio (skim for background only)), 252-54 (Notes 2-4), 254-67 (Lanning v. SEPTA (I & II)), 714-24 (EEOC v. Sephora U.S.A., LLC).

7.         Retaliation

Assignment 12:  CB 159-95 (Crawford v. Metropolitan Government; Clark County Sch. Dist. v. Breeden; Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Rwy. v. White); Selected Readings – Thompson v. N. Am. Stainless, LP. (for review purposes only); Univ. of Texas Southwestern Medical Ctr. v. Nassar (for review purposes only)

8.         Harassment

Assignment 13:  CB 497-529 (Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson; Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc.).
Assignment 14:  CB 538-83 (Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth; Faragher v. City of Boca Raton; Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders); Selected Readings – Vance v. Ball State Univ. (for review purposes only).
Assignment 15:  CB 583-90, 348-55 (Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Servs., Inc.), 529-38 (Notes re: same-sex harassment and Oncale), 478-89 (Rene v. MGM Grand Hotel, Inc.).

9.         Special Problems in Sex Discrimination I:  Sex Stereotyping and Gender Performance

Assignment 16:  CB 385-405 (Jespersen v. Harrah’s Operating Co.); Selected Readings – Nelson v. James H. Knight DDS; Velez v. Novartis (summary materials).

10.       Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Assignment 17:  453-77 (Smith v. City of Salem, Ohio).

11.       Special Problems in Sex Discrimination II:  Pregnancy and Caregiving

Assignment 18:  CB 408-22 (Troupe v. May Dep’t Stores Co.), 433-52 (Chadwick v. Wellpoint, Inc.); Selected Readings – Young v. UPS.

11.       Special Problems in Sex Discrimination III:  Wage Discrimination

Assignment 19:  CB 600-28 (Corning Glass Works v. Brennan).

12.       Discrimination Because of Religion

Assignment 20:  CB 629-64 (EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.; Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Hardison; Ansonia Board of Education v. Philbrook); Selected Readings – EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.

13.       Discrimination Because of Age

Assignment 21:  CB 733-43 (Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggins), 751-69 (Kentucky Retirement Sys. v. EEOC; Gross v. FBL Financial Servs., Inc.).
Assignment 22:  CB 769-84 (Smith v. City of Jackson, Mississippi; Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Lab.).

14.       Discrimination Because of Disability

Assignment 23:  CB 801-34 (Raytheon v. Hernandez; US Airways, Inc. v. Barnett; Huber v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.).
Assignment 24:  CB 834-68 (Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc.; Toyota Motor Mfg., Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams; Vande Zande v. Wisconsin Dep’t of Admin.), 873-74.

15.       Exhaustion

Assignment 25:  Selected Readings – National RR. Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101 (2002); CB 20-40 (Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.).

16.       Access to Courts

Assignment 26:  CB 927-45 (on pp. 944-45 only Notes 1 & 2) (Circuit City Stores v. Adams), 957-60 (omit Notes) (Circuit City Stores v. Adams (II)), 968-74 (14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett).

17.       Affirmative Action and Other Forms of Voluntary Compliance

Assignment 27:  CB 897-24 (United Steelworkers of America v. Weber; Johnson v. Transportation Agency of Santa Clara County).
Assignment 28:  CB 267-88 (Ricci v. DeStefano).

Course Details

  • Unit Value: 3
  • Grading Options: Numerical or CR/D/F
  • Schedule: M/W 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm
  • Room Number: Room 12
  • Exam: Take-home exam
  • Writing Requirement: No
  • Skills/Experiential Unit Requirement: no
  • Participation: Required and graded