Discrimination | St. Louis Public Radio

Discrimination

Jane Elliott, at left, and Rachelle Smith joined Monday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In April 1968, Jane Elliott was a third grade teacher in the small town of Riceville, Iowa. On the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, she felt compelled to shift her lesson plans. She decided to teach her young white students about discrimination by telling the children that brown-eyed people were superior to their blue-eyed peers. She watched as the students turned on each other. Then, the next day, she reversed the script.

The exercise highlighted the arbitrary and irrational basis of prejudice, an issue that Americans continue to grapple with more than five decades later.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske explored that topic and others with Elliott ahead of the internationally known lecturer’s address at the Washington University Medical Campus on Monday evening. Joining the conversation was Rachelle D. Smith, a diversity, equity and inclusion leader for the School of Medicine.

Rep. Janelle Bynum's office is covered with artwork from students around her district.
Erica Morrison | OPB

Across the country, state legislatures have become more diverse over the past four years. New lawmakers bring different backgrounds and life experiences, and that can lead them to push for more inclusive measures.

In Oregon, Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas, is the only African American legislator in the state House.

Last summer, Bynum was canvassing voters in her district when someone — one of her constituents — called the police on her. The encounter ended with Bynum and the officer taking a selfie, but it also attracted national attention.

It's illegal for employers to discriminate against people who don't conform to gender stereotypes, the Missouri Supreme Court held Tuesday in a decision seen as a major victory for LGBTQ advocates.

The court ruled in a case involving a gay individual, Harold Lampley, who alleged that his employer discriminated against him because he didn’t exhibit stereotypically male behavior and apperance.

Holly Edgell (left) and Susan Balk (right) discussed combating workplace discrimination on Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air.
EVIE HEMPHILL | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Discriminatory practices and instances of prejudice continue to exist in workplaces nationally, despite increased awareness of what constitutes sensitive behavior.

Though the word “hate” may seem like a strong one to characterize instances of subtle workplace bias, Holly Edgell told host Don Marsh on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air that, “to really put a word to [workplace discrimination] that has some power … is not inaccurate by any means.”

Cami Thomas, producer of the Smoke Screen documentary series with fellow filmmaker Calvin Tigre.
Cami Thomas

St. Louis activist and filmmaker Cami Thomas moved back to St. Louis from college a year after Michael Brown’s death. While news of the 2014 shooting and the protests that followed grabbed national attention, she was miles away at school — grappling with the developments and fallout.

When she returned to St. Louis, Thomas said people told her she was fortunate to move back “after the smoke cleared.” In talking with neighbors and friends, however, she wondered if locals weren’t still wrestling with age-old problems — namely segregation and discrimination.

The Missouri Supreme Court is expected to decide within months whether state law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But the American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a lawsuit that the Missouri Commission on Human Rights has determined that LGBTQ people are not protected.

Police arrested two employees of the convenience store on the corner of Goodfellow and Delmar on July 24, 2018.
St. Louis American

Yellow police caution tape barred people from entering the Gas Mart at the corner of Delmar and Goodfellow boulevards on Tuesday. No one could buy gas. No one could shop at the store.

The temporary closure came after a woman was kicked by two store employees outside the business on July 24. The woman has been identified as Kelli Adams. Protests ensued a few hours after a video of the incident went viral on social media.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and then-St. Louis interim Police Chief Larry O'Toole address reporters on Saturday, September 16, 2017.
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A former candidate in the running to become the police chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department last year has alleged employment discrimination by the city of St. Louis.

St. Louis Police Lt. Col. Larry O'Toole filed a complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and another with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging employment discrimination.

UMSL’s Title IX coordinator and chief equity officer, Dana Beteet Daniels (at left), and local attorney Nicole Gorovsky, an advocate for victims of sexual abuse, participated in Wednesday’s discussion.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

While the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX statute has been around since 1972, there’s renewed societal focus on issues related to sexual assault and discrimination – and evolving guidance at the federal level when it comes to addressing them.

“Colleges are kind of on edge right now with respect to these issues,” Chronicle of Higher Education senior reporter Sarah Brown said on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Maplewood city attorney Craig Biesterfeld and City Manager Marty Corcoran look through the city code during a meeting with a reporter at Maplewood City Hall.
Jenny Simeone-Cases | St. Louis Public Radio

Maplewood’s thriving business district and respected schools are attractive to potential residents. But, aspiring residents must first apply and be approved for an occupancy permit. Even after such a permit is granted, the city’s public nuisance ordinance allows it to be revoked under certain conditions.

The ACLU of Missouri and the St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council on Wednesday are co-hosting what they bill as a “community discussion” about Maplewood's public nuisance ordinance. The event is intended to help residents understand the ordinance and their rights when it comes to enforcement.

Manager Cordell Lewis manages a team of 18 at the Ferguson Starbucks, which opened in 2016.
Starbucks

Updated June 1 with "St. Louis on the Air" segment – St. Louis Public Radio reporter Ashley Lisenby joined the show to talk about her locally focused reporting around implicit bias as Starbucks conducted company-wide training earlier this week.

Original story from May 30:

Employees at thousands of Starbucks stores went back to work Wednesday after a half-day seminar on Tuesday focused on company policies and discrimination.

Good Service Is A Coin Toss For Those 'Dining While Black'

Mar 27, 2018

When many black diners go out to eat, it’s not uncommon for them to question if race plays a part in the service they receive.

Turns out, that’s not paranoia.

Zach Brewster is an assistant professor of sociology at Wayne State University in Michigan. He has conducted several national research studies on the experience of dining and restaurant discrimination. In his 2015 survey of approximately 1,000 waiters and waitresses across the country, 53 percent of the participants admitted to not giving black diners their best service.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ $10-an-hour minimum wage is a thing of the past. So is a Missouri resident’s ability to sue when he or she thinks age or race was part of the reason for being fired.

That’s because several new laws have taken effect as of Monday.

Organizers with the St. Louis Action Council have protested against systemic inequality in Missouri.
File Photo | Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

Following up after the NAACP last week issued a travel advisory for the state of Missouri, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay is calling for Gov. Eric Greitens and other state officials to confront the fact that a new Missouri law and other policies are discriminatory.

Clay, a Democrat from University City,  says the state’s racial problems go beyond some of the legislative changes singled out in the the NAACP advisory, which warns travelers that they “could be subject to discrimination and harassment” in Missouri.

St. Louis Metro Police officers use bicycles to push back protesters at an anti-Trump rally in downtown St. Louis in November 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A white officer has settled a federal lawsuit he filed against the city of St. Louis in which he claimed that police officials promoted a less-qualified black officer to lieutenant colonel.

Maj. Michael Caruso's lawsuit is the third the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has faced in five years over promotions. The lawsuits were filed by black and white officers. Two of the suits, including Caruso's, blame individual decision-makers for alleged discrimination. A third, filed in state court, claims that the process is unfair.

File photo | Cathy Carver

The city of Maplewood faces a federal lawsuit for alleged discriminatory housing practices against black and disabled residents and victims of domestic violence.

The city's "chronic nuisance ordinance," which was instituted in 2006, is enforced "selectively" and ignores "similar conduct" by residents who aren't African-American, according to the lawsuit filed late Monday by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council, or EHOC.

Kimberly Norwood, author of a book on the topic, says the effects of colorism remain pervasive.
Washington University and Amazon

While conversations about race have become more common since the shooting death of Michael Brown, some scholars are hoping to expand the dialogue to include colorism, discrimination based on degrees of skin tone.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The former director of Missouri's unemployment benefits agency is alleging discrimination in her firing by Gov. Jay Nixon's administration.

Gracia Backer was replaced in March as director of the Division of Employment Security in Missouri's labor department. Her ouster came at the same time that Nixon appointed Labor Department Director Larry Rebman to a different job.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Legislation that would redefine workplace discrimination in Missouri has been passed by the State House

House Bill 320 would require that discrimination be a motivating factor in any wrongful action taken against an employee, instead of a contributing factor as it is now.  State Representative Brandon Ellington (D, Kansas City) says Missouri’s standard for discrimination should not be lowered.

“We know the potential for discrimination, and to be able to prove that it was a motivational factor is almost impossible," Ellington said.  "Discrimination can happen to anybody in this body – it may not be racial, but it definitely could be age discrimination; it may not be age, but it could definitely be sexual discrimination.”

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Testimony was heard today on legislation that would redefine what constitutes workplace discrimination in Missouri.

If passed, workplace discrimination would have to be a motivating factor, not just a contributing one, in any wrongful action taken against a worker by an employer, which is the current federal standard.  Attorney Rich AuBuchon spoke in favor of the bill on behalf of his former employer, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.  He told the House Committee on Workforce Development and Workplace Safety that the state’s current definition of discrimination is hurting Missouri’s economy.

(Photo Courtesy: University of Missouri - St. Louis)

A leading advocate for equal rights argues infant mortality, access to education, and unemployment remain major issues of inequality in the African American community.

Julianne Malveaux is a labor economist, author and political commentator.  She is also the former President of Bennett College, a historically black college for women in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Host Don Marsh talked with Malveaux in advance of her speech at the University of Missouri – St. Louis to commemorate the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

(via Flickr/slgckgc)

The St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center debuts a new interactive exhibit called “Change Begins With Me: Confronting Hate, Discrimination and Ethnic Conflict” this week on the premise that “the lessons of the Holocaust are not yet learned.”

Supporters want more local laws to protect LGBT

May 4, 2012
(Bill Raack/St. Louis Public Radio)

Supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community Friday called on St. Louis County and individual municipalities to enact anti-discrimination laws.

Five area cities, including the city of St. Louis, have updated their discrimination ordinances to include protections for the LGBT community. Andrew Shaughnessy, with the LGBT advocacy group PROMO, says there are several others considering doing the same thing.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Republican leaders in the Missouri House say they’ve been negotiating with Governor Jay Nixon (D) over the two bills he vetoed last month.

The governor vetoed bills that would redefine workplace discrimination and that would place occupational disease claims solely within the workers’ compensation system House Speaker Steven Tilley (R, Perryville) says discussions have been productive, but that there’s been no compromise reached yet.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

A State House committee began a hearing Tuesday into a stripped-down version of the workplace discrimination bill.

Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed the House version last month, so backers are now pushing a revised bill that will primarily focus on protecting whistleblowers.  State Rep. Kevin Elmer (R, Nixa) says language that would redefine workplace discrimination as a motivating factor instead of a contributing one has been removed.

Morning headlines: Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Apr 10, 2012
(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Cochran VA Medical Center continues to have problems according to federal report

A new federal report says the Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis continues to have problems with sterilization in its dental clinic. The report comes two years after the hospital notified more than 1,800 veterans that they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis or other viruses because of unclean conditions in the dental clinic.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Governor Jay Nixon (D) has vetoed two workplace-related bills passed by Missouri lawmakers this year.  They are the first vetoes issued this year.

First, he vetoed the House version of the workplace discrimination bill, which would have redefined discrimination as a “motivating factor” instead of a “contributing factor” in any action taken by an employer against a worker.  The Senate version of the bill is still alive, however.  It was sponsored by State Senator Brad Lager (R, Savannah).

Black semi-automatic pistol
(via Flickr/kcds)

Legislation that would add gun owners to the state’s list of protected minority groups has passed the Missouri House.

Under the bill, gun owners who carry their firearms with them in a lawful manner (i.e. possess a concealed-carry permit) cannot be fired, denied benefits, or otherwise discriminated against.  It was sponsored by State Rep. Wanda Brown (R, Cole Camp).

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Senate has sent the House version of the workplace discrimination bill to Governor Jay Nixon.

Senate Democrats spent five hours Wednesday blocking the bill before sitting down.  Today, there was no debate, only a 23 to 8 straight party-line vote.  Brad Lager (R, Savannah) handled the bill in the Senate.  He says he fully expects the governor, a Democrat, to veto the bill.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Legislation that would redefine workplace discrimination standards in Missouri has passed the State House.

The bill would change the definition by making discrimination a motivating factor in any action taken by an employer against an employee, instead of a contributing factor as established by court rulings in recent years.  House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R, Eureka) argued that the current standard is killing small businesses in Missouri.

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