Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Letter to Van Hollen

I wrote another letter to my Congressman urging preemption of the upcoming Humphries case. Here it is:


Congressman Van Hollen,

Last May, in the wake of the Supreme Court's Ledbetter decision, I wrote a letter urging you to reform the law that failed to protect Ms. Ledbetter. In addition, I also requested that you work to strengthen the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII, so that injustices such as that accorded to Robert Jordan, right here in Montgomery County, are also rendered a thing of the past. Mr. Jordan, as you may recall, was fired after complaining to his supervisor about a White employee, who upon seeing two Black fugitives arrested on TV, exclaimed that "they should put those two Black monkeys in a cage and let the Black apes fuck them." Unfortunately, the 4th Circuit ruled in Jordan v. Alternative Resources Corporation (458 F.3d 332 (4th Cir. 2006)) that Mr. Jordan could not have even "reasonably believed" that such comments were in violation of Title VII, and thus the company's retaliation was permissible.

I congratulate you on passing the reform for Ms. Ledbetter, but I am troubled that you did not address strengthening the anti-retaliation provisions of our civil rights laws. Now, the Supreme Court has granted cert to hear CBOCS West Inc. v. Humphries, No. 06-1431, which many commentators believe they will use as a vehicle to completely excise the anti-retaliation aspect of Section 1981. No lower court has taken this view, for good reason: eliminating the anti-retaliation provision doesn't just create a loophole in the law, it effectively means we don't have a law at all. Congress should preempt this ruling by immediately giving explicit and strong protection to employers who are retaliated against for complaining about discriminatory, racist, sexist, or otherwise prejudiced treatment. The Roberts Court's rollback of our civil rights laws needs to be checked.

As a lifelong resident of your district (and a volunteer on your original 2002 primary campaign), I would appreciate your response and efforts on this issue.

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