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discrimination

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A few weeks ago, we talked with a specialist in underserved farmers at Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems. Shakara Tyler mentioned a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that alleged discrimination against black farmers.

That case is called the Pigford lawsuit. It claimed USDA loan officers and agents denied loans, lost applications, delayed applications, and otherwise discriminated against African-American farmers. After all was said and done, the settlement with the USDA was the largest federal settlement for civil rights violations in the nation.

Michigan civil rights commission
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A large crowd is expected Monday when the Michigan Civil Rights Commission is asked to revise how the word “sex” is interpreted under the state’s anti-discrimination law.

Steve Tennes at a microphone
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The owner of a Mid-Michigan farm will be back at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market this Sunday after a judge today granted an injunction in his lawsuit against the city. 

Steve Tennes sued East Lansing when he was denied his usual spot at the farmer’s market. The city said the farmer's Facebook posts saying the Eaton County farm would not host same sex marriages went against a city ordinance.

Ken Lund / Flickr

Sixteen Muslim men are suing Brose Jefferson auto supplier in Warren for religious discrimination. They say they "involuntarily resigned" after their employer forced them to choose between their religion and their jobs.

The incident took place in May, when the men made a request regarding their daily meal break. The men worked a 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift, and their standard half-hour break was at 7 p.m. During Ramadan, some Muslims choose to fast until sundown, and they asked their employer to push their meal break to 9 p.m.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of East Lansing is being sued by a farmer who claims his religious views are being discriminated against.

photo from complaint filed in Brown v. City of Hastings et al

A white police sergeant in the town of Hastings says he faced racial discrimination after a DNA test showed he has African ancestry. 

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Delta Airlines has changed a policy after an African American doctor raised concerns about discriminatory treatment by a crew member. 

Flight attendants are no longer required to verify the credentials of medical personnel who volunteer during in-flight medical emergencies.  Instead, they can rely on the volunteer's statement that he or she is a physician, physician's assistant, nurse, paramedic or EMT.

Flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Members of the Civil Rights Commission say there is evidence the Flint water crisis was partially the result of discrimination.

The Commission is working on a report that will include policy change recommendations to prevent similar problems. It's evaluating the water crisis from a civil rights perspective, and is looking at a finding of Governor Rick Snyder's Flint Water Advisory Task Force.

The Task Force found that environmental injustice played a role in the crisis and how it was handled. 

Civil rights hearings planned on Flint water crisis

Jan 27, 2016
The Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission will investigate whether the Flint drinking water crisis has violated the civil rights of Flint residents. 

The bipartisan commission unanimously passed a resolution yesterday to hold at least three public hearings, the first of which is expected to take place within 30 days.

"The Commission decided that under the state constitution, as well as the Elliott-Larsen Act, to conduct hearings to try to learn more if discrimination may have occurred," said commission co-chair Arthur Horwitz. 

Muslim woman sues former workplace for discrimination

Dec 23, 2015
Justice statue
Flickr user Jack / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A Muslim woman from Dearborn has filed a lawsuit against her former employer for religious discrimination.

The complaint says Terry Ali, who wears a hijab, was hired as a medical receptionist at Livonia Dermatology. Ali began the new job one day before the mass shooting in San Bernadino earlier this month.

The day after the shooting, Ali's supervisor pulled her aside and asked "if she was satisfied with the job." The supervisor also asked if Ali could contact her previous employer and ask for her old job back.

grand rapids mayor rosalynn bliss
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss the first female mayor of Grand Rapids, this week's elections,  accusations of racism against Gov. Snyder and Detroit emergency managers, the number of college degrees among Michigan lawmakers.


Pixabay

A fair housing group is suing the owner of several apartment complexes for refusing to rent one-bedroom apartments to testers who said they had a child. 

Pam Kisch is head of the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan.

She says this particular kind of discrimination is pretty common, even though it's been illegal since 1988.

Grand Rapids police officer directing traffic.
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

An African-American man is suing the city of Grand Rapids over a police practice his attorney says unfairly targets minorities.

A city attorney wouldn’t comment on the specific case, but says the policy follows the law.

  WYANDOTTE, Mich. (AP) - The federal government is supporting a Detroit-area teenager who accuses several schools of discriminating against him because he's transgender.

In a court filing last week, the U.S. Justice Department urged a judge to deny a request to dismiss the lawsuit at an early stage. The government says the boy so far has stated a "plausible claim" under federal law.

These days, workplaces of all kinds from radio stations to corporate offices are filled with interns, mainly unpaid interns.

So imagine that you have such an intern in your office anywhere in this state. You think she, or he, is cute.

You ask what she does with her boyfriend at night, and begin touching her inappropriately. Finally, you suggest that if she wants a career, she should come to a meeting without her clothes on.

Can she sue you and the firm for sexual harassment?

The answer is … no.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

CLINTON TOWNSHIP – A federal appeals court has thrown out a $2.2 million verdict in a lawsuit by three women who were fired in 2004 at a court in Macomb County.

In a 3-0 decision, the court says Judge Linda Davis has immunity. The case is going back to Detroit federal court to possibly come up with a different remedy for the women.

Patricia Barachkov, Nancy Englar and Carol Diehl were fired at Clinton Township District Court when Davis was chief judge. They said the firings were politically motivated and they weren't given a chance to fight their dismissals.

user: dbphotography / Flickr

This week, State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra explored language and discrimination. She talked to Robin Queen, a linguist who teaches a class about it at the University of Michigan.

From Guerra's story:

Queen says people often think there's one right way to speak, what linguists call Standard American English, or "The Standard," and everyone else is doing it wrong.

"Who gets to decide they can police someone else's language?" asks Queen. "I mean, when did we get to this point that shaming people for their language is fine?"

Remember the George Zimmerman trial last year? You probably read headlines about it somewhere, or maybe watched coverage of it on TV.

If you got to hear any of the testimony, you may remember Rachel Jeantel. She's a young, African-American woman who was the primary witness for the prosecution, and was on the phone with Trayvon Martin on the day he died. 

When Jeantel began speaking, people both in and out of the courtroom focused on the way she spoke.

Why? 

Check out Guerra's piece. You can watch testimony from the Zimmerman trial and read about a study from MSU on language and discrimination that has some surprising results. 

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Wikimedia Commons

If the pollsters are right, here’s something you probably don’t know:

It’s perfectly legal to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

A Gallup poll reported nearly nine out of ten people think LGBT people are already protected.

They are not.

Actually, Arizona and Michigan are not that different right now.

John Eisenschenk / Creative Commons

Earlier this year, Flint’s Hurley Medical Center faced national media scrutiny when an African-American nurse was told not to care for a baby at a patient’s request. The case was settled outside of court.

Julie Gafkay represented that nurse and says she was not alone.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, Royal Oak will be the latest city in Michigan to decide whether discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people should be illegal.

Both sides say it’s going to be thisclose, with voters split just about down the middle.

Opponents of the proposal are plenty motivated – just the fact that Royal Oak is having this vote is because of their hustle.

It’s their ability to collect more than the required 746 petitions that put this on the ballot in the first place.

Group says vote “no” to protect Royal Oak’s businesses

Elle Magazine. / Elle

There was a bit of a stir recently when Elle Magazine came out with its annual "Women in Hollywood” issue.

Four covers were shot with four different stars: Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Penelope Cruz and Melissa McCarthy.

Witherspoon wore a fitted black dress, Woodley wore a swimsuit and Cruz recently gave birth to her second baby, so hers was a close-up face shot. Curvy, full-figured McCarthy was swathed and bundled up in a big coat.

That led to criticism that McCarthy was covered up because she's full-figured — though it should be noted that Melissa McCarthy herself said she was glad to be a part of the cover.

But it does raise the issue of society's attitudes toward overweight or obese people.

35% of the population of Michigan is considered to be overweight, so it’s an issue that affects many in our state.

Is there a bias towards fat people that would not be tolerated elsewhere?

Joining us is Amanda Levitt, a graduate student at Wayne State University. Levitt writes the blog Fat Body Politics.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The federal government says it's settled a discrimination complaint against a Flint hospital following accusations that black nurses were barred from treating a white newborn.

The Flint Journal reported Friday the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission will conduct annual training for the management staff of Hurley Medical Center. The EEOC also will work with the hospital on other educational and developmental efforts aimed at Flint-area youth.

Inventorchris / Creative Commons

African-American drivers are more than twice as likely to get pulled over than Caucasian drivers in the City of Kalamazoo. That’s according to a study the city released this week.

The study only looked at how the department deals with traffic stops. The data covers stops between March 2012 and February 2013.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A federal judge ruled this week that a lawsuit accusing investment banking giant Morgan Stanley of predatory lending in Detroit can move forward.

The lawsuit alleges Morgan Stanley pushed sub-prime mortgage lenders to target Detroit neighborhoods with large minority populations.

Morgan Stanley later packaged the ‘high risk’ loans into ‘mortgage backed securities’

Rainbow flag, often associated with the LGBT movement
User Marlith / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A southwestern Michigan community has approved an ordinance that would ban discrimination in employment, public accommodation and housing practices.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the measure passed on a 6-0 vote Monday night by trustees in Kalamazoo County's Kalamazoo Township.

Rainbow flag, often associated with the LGBT movement
User Marlith / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Tonight Kalamazoo Township’s board of trustees will consider an ordinance that would protect people from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, among a number of other factors, including:

“..The actual or perceived race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, height, weight, marital status, familial status, citizenship, physical or mental ability, gender identity, sexual orientation or genetic information of another person."

State law already protects from discrimination based on factors like a person’s sex, age, race or religion.

Matthileo / Flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the state Senate's failure to expand Medicaid before summer recess, how states will be affected by the Voting Rights Act, and legislation in Lansing to re-consider the state's outlaw on same-sex marriage.

Wikimedia Commons

Michigan State House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) could be opening the door to extending civil rights protections to gays and lesbians. That would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in areas such as employment and housing.

The state's civil rights act protects a variety of groups from discrimination. It includes protections for categories like race and age, but sexual orientation has yet to be included.

Adoptions by LGBT parents are at the center of this controversy.
user stevendamrun / Flickr

If you’re gay or lesbian and you want to adopt a child, not every adoption agency in Michigan will be willing to help. If you do find an agency that will help, you might run into more discrimination.

Even if you have a home, pass the background checks, and otherwise meet the state requirements for adoption, you can be turned down by an adoption agency if you don’t meet its standards.

user Samahiaka18 / wikimedia commons

About a decade ago, judges stopped approving adoptions for lesbian and gay couples. It stopped after a controversial move by a Supreme Court Judge.

Nancy Wheeler is a judge in Washtenaw County who used to preside over the juvenile court where adoptions are recognized. She granted dozens of what are called ‘second-parent adoptions’ to same-sex couples.

“I thought that it was an outrage that we encouraged and, in fact, had a lot of gay and lesbian foster parents, but didn’t allow both parties to adopt the children. So, these children had been in foster care with these same parents sometimes for a number of years and then they were adopted by one,” Judge Wheeler explained.

She reasoned if one person could be an adoptive parent, then two could.

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