On April 4th and April 5th, the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society co-hosted the Title VII at 50 Symposium in conjunction with with NYU Law School, The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development and the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development. For the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the symposium focused on how far we’ve come in the last 50 years and how far we have to go in the hopes of eliminating employment and racial discrimination altogether.
The first day was kicked off by Professor David Gregory, co-chair of the Symposium, Vice Emeritus Dean Andrew Simons and the President of the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society, May Mansour ’14. The morning panel was entitled, “The Living History of Title VII: Voices of 1964, and Passing the Torch to a New” and was moderated by Professor Cheryl L. Wade, the Dean Harold F. McNeice Professor of Law at St. John’s University. The panelists were: Paulette Brown, President Elect of the ABA, Dean Andrew Simons, and former U.S. Congressman Rev. Doctor Floyd H. Flake. Paulette Brown spoke of her ability to go to a newly integrated school because of Title VII, although the new environment was far from encouraging. Rev. Dr. Floyd H. Flake, Former U.S. Congressman and Senior Pastor for the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, discussed how racial minority groups are still facing challenges they should not have to face. With graduation rates for African Americans, Latinos and Asians at 32%, 62% and 75% respectively, Rev. Dr. Flake said that these groups should be in a position today to do what they want to do in regards to their careers and to have the lifestyle they hope for. Vice Emeritus Dean Andrew Simons discussed the case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, as well as Johnson’s address before a joint session of Congress after President John F. Kennedy where he said no eulogy would be better than the earliest possible passage of the Civil Rights bill.
Before lunch, Professor Gregory and Paulette Brown announced Ralph Carter ’14 as the winner of the Inaugural Edwards Wildman Palmer for Best Paper on Fair Employment Law 2013-14 for his paper on an employer’s use of their employee’s social media information and passwords. During lunch, Professor Janai S. Nelson, Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship and Associate Director of The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development, introduced her former colleague and mentor Jacqueline A. Berrien as the keynote speaker. Ms. Berrien is the current chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She recounted her time as Associate Director-Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), where she worked prior to being nominated by President Obama to be chair of the EEOC. Berrien then discussed the initiatives and actions being taken by the EEOC since her appointment to shrink the discrimination seen in the workplace through the charges of discrimination brought forth to the EEOC.
After lunch, an all-female panel presented stories of race, gender, ethnicity, and diversity as well as their roles as scholars and journalists. “Stories of Race, Gender, Ethnicity, and Diversity: The Roles of Scholars and Journalists” was moderated by Special Hagan, who kept the debate flowing and the questions coming in a fascinating panel that explored the many different facets of diversity.
Rebecca K. Lee, an Associate Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, discussed Fisher v. University of Texas, affirmative action and applying strict scrutiny in higher education. Kimani Paul-Emile, an Associate Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, explained her research of employers use of background checks and criminal records in determining whether to hire an applicant as well as if they will terminate an employee if a record is found. Kathleen Wells, a Radio Host and Multi Media Journalist, discussed research that showed that we still have a long way to go before discrimination is a thing of the past. Sahar F. Aziz, Associate Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law, discussed research she conducted that shows the stereotypes facing women, in particular Muslims, and ways in which these women go about trying to remove these stereotypes. Natasha Martin, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and Associate Professor of Law at Seattle University School of Law, talked about how there are still echoes of Jim Crowe laws in the workplace. Lastly, Professor Elayne E. Greenberg, Assistant Dean of Dispute Resolution Programs, Professor of Legal Practice and Director of the Hugh L. Carey Center for Dispute Resolution at St. John’s, discussed implicit biases and how those biases effect decisions made.
The last roundtable of the day discussed affirmative action through the reflections on Fisher v. University of Texas with Professor Gregory, Professor Rebecca Lee, and Professor Gregory’s research students Brendan A. Bertoli ’14, Courtney Chicvak ‘14 and Sarah Mannix ’15. Bertoli, Chicvak and Mannix discussed their research regarding the Fisher case and how it starts to show where the Supreme Court is heading in regards to Affirmative Action. In addition, Professor Lee provided a deeper analysis from her previous panel discussion into strict scrutiny. Ms. Mannix recalled her experience on the panel as ” a really excellent forum to discuss our research and findings with out practitioners and academics, and a great opportunity for discussion!”
Professor Leonard Baynes, the Ronald H. Brown Professor of Law at St. John’s and Stephanie Rainaud ’15, Symposium Editor for the Journal of Economic and Civil Rights closed out Day One.
Specials thanks to everyone who came out to the Title VII Symposium and who shared their time and experiences on this day.