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Minneapolis Civil Rights Law Blog

How gender expectations continue to influence performance reviews

Our posts last week focused on the problem of pregnancy discrimination in employment. While women often face career obstacles and discrimination because of pregnancy, it is important to remember that women also tend to face these problems simply by being women in the workplace.

In short, gender discrimination is still very much a problem. And it is difficult to solve, in part, because assumptions about gender and gender roles are often deep-rooted and subconscious. The results of a recent study seem to confirm this.

The modern reality of pregnancy discrimination: Part II

Earlier this week, we began a discussion about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Although many women worry about job security when they take maternity leave, some studies have shown that after women have kids, they are at greater risk of being perceived as less competent and less committed to their job.

This is true even if their work is as good as that of their male colleagues (regardless of parental status) and their female colleagues who do not have children. A recent article in The Atlantic also noted that many women are afraid to file pregnancy discrimination complaints due to fears that their employers will retaliate against them for doing so.

The modern reality of pregnancy discrimination: Part I

Women who wish to succeed in their careers often have a difficult choice to make: Having children or getting ahead. To be clear, this is a false dichotomy. Women should not have to make this choice, and men are almost never presented with such limited options.

The problem, of course, is pregnancy discrimination. This can include discriminating against a female employee for requesting pregnancy accommodations, taking maternity leave or needing a more flexible schedule when she returns. Sometimes, women are fired six to 12 months after returning from having a baby because they are perceived by their employers as less dedicated to the job.

CBS and NBC face defamation lawsuits over inaccurate allegations

There was a time, not so long ago, that “breaking news” was anything that made it into the following morning’s newspaper. While this pace of reporting seems unbelievably slow by today’s standards, it did at least give journalists an opportunity to check the accuracy of their work before dispersing it to the masses.

Today, 24-hour news channels, internet and social media mean that news stories can be disseminated globally in only the amount of time it takes to write the words or say them into a camera. Because of this powerful platform, journalists need to be especially careful about the accuracy of what they report. Sadly, however, it seems as though preemptive fact-checking is going the way of print media.

The sometimes-blurry line between being detained and arrested

Have you ever been hassled by a police officer for seemingly no reason? This is an issue that minorities often face in large cities around the U.S., including here in the Twin Cities metro. Late last month, it happened to a man in St. Paul, and it made the news for two reasons.

First, the man captured a video recording of the interaction between himself and police. The second reason was that the man refused to give his name and show ID because he had not broken any laws. He simply happened to be in the area when police responded to a trespassing call. The man was arrested for essentially failing to comply with the officers.

MN Supreme Court suppresses illegally obtained drug evidence

When it comes to criminal charges, all details leading up to the charges are important. This is because the way in which law enforcement officers obtain evidence can be central to whether or not that evidence is allowed to be used against you in court.

The Fourth Amendment protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. If evidence was obtained in an illegal search and seizure, it generally cannot be used in court. A ruling issued last month by the Minnesota Supreme Court is a good example.

Why traditional advice on standing up to bullies no longer works

School bullies have been around as long as schools have existed, and bullying itself dates back much further that. Because bullying is nothing new, a lot of parents and grandparents think they have the solutions figured out. They tell their kids and grandkids to just “stand up to the bully and fight back. This will get them to leave you alone.”

In principal, this is an effective strategy. And it used to work decades ago. It rarely works today. Bullying hasn’t changed all that much, but the delivery system has changed dramatically. Fighting back isn’t always possible, and even when it is, it could just lead to more danger and escalated violence.

Crime victim sues for network for defamation over TV movie

Certain cable networks have developed unintended reputations for the kind of programming they tend to favor. The History Channel, for instance, has been dubbed the “Hitler Channel” by some who believe that the network’s shows focus far too heavily on the Nazis in World War II.

As another example, the “Lifetime” network has been criticized on many occasions for releasing made-for-TV movies predominantly featuring female crime victims being stalked, sexually assaulted and murdered by men. While many of these movies are based on true stories, the network has been known to take liberties with the details, and that has angered some real-life victims whose stories were adapted.

The alarming rise in SWAT team use and deadly errors: Part II

In our last post, we began a discussion about the increasing use of SWAT teams by U.S. law enforcement agencies. There are certainly dangerous situations that necessitate the use of “Special Weapons And Tactics,” but calling in the SWAT team should be the exception and not the rule. Yet these paramilitary teams are increasingly being used for inappropriate purposes like executing search warrants to non-violent drug offenders.

Whenever law enforcement agencies conduct surprise raids while wielding serious firepower, the risks are inherently higher than they would otherwise be. Even law-abiding citizens may react unpredictably to a surprise home invasion, and gun owners may draw their weapon out of fear for their own safety. Sadly, those who do are often shot and killed by SWAT officers.

The alarming rise in SWAT team use and deadly errors: Part I

Earlier this summer, police in St. Paul executed a “no-knock” warrant on a home. They burst in with guns drawn and immediately shot and killed the family’s two dogs. After conducting a search, they left with what amounted to marijuana paraphernalia confiscated from a man who admits that he is a “recreational marijuana smoker.”

Believe it or not, this story is among the more peacefully resolved incidents involving a raid by a SWAT team, which stands for “Special Weapons And Tactics.” Although SWAT teams have been a law enforcement mainstay since the 1970s, their use and their firepower have increased substantially in recent decades. One statistic says that SWAT raids have increased by 1,400 percent since the 1980s.

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