CEOs demand North Carolina Gov. repeal anti-LGBT law

Signatures from over 80 CEOs adorn a high profile letter that has been addressed to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. This letter, released by The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality NC, urges the Governor to repeal a recent law that will eliminate non-discrimination ordinances that protect the rights of LGBT people in the state of North Carolina. House Bill 2. H.B. 2 will force trans-gender students to use bathroom facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identity, which ultimately puts the school’s Title IX funding at risk. The legislation was hastily passed last Wednesday.

Several CEOs and high ranking executives are demanding that the Governor repeal this discriminatory bill. “Put simply, HB 2 is not a bill that reflects the values of our companies, of our country, or even the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians”, the letter states.

The letter goes on to deploy the actions of North Carolina’s lawmakers, and cites how destructive these far reaching actions can be. “Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in North Carolina or anywhere in our country. As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you and the leadership of North Carolina’s legislature to repeal this law in the upcoming legislative session.”

This comes just one day after Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a bill that was designed to allow businesses to legally discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds. The veto came after Salesforce, along with other companies, threatened to stop doing business in the state.

The letter includes signatures from CEOs of high profile companies, many residing in Silicon Valley. The list of CEOs includes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

Chad Griffin, president of the HRC and Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, will deliver the letter to McCrory’s office on Thursday morning and follow up with a request for the CEOs to meet with the Governor to discuss this matter further.

 

Article via TechCrunch, 29 March 2016

Photo: Pat McCrory by Hal Goodtree [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Harvard Law Library is adapting to the Digital Age

The Harvard library is where one may find shelves of books unearthed with valuable resources that include nearly every territorial and tribal judicial decision since colonial times. It provides priceless information for everyone from legal scholars to defense lawyers trying to challenge a criminal conviction. Now, Harvard librarians are taking off the spines of all but rarities and running them through a high-speed scanner. This would allow a complete searchable database of American case law available on the Web. Retrieval of these vital records were once usually paid for. Now they will be completely free.

“Improving access to justice is a priority. We feel an obligation and an opportunity here to open up our resources to the public.” said Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law school.

Though the primary documents can be found in the public domain, it’s not in a convenient format, if at all. Legal groups spend approximately thousands to millions of dollars a year depending on the size of the office to find cases and trace doctrinal strands. Harvard’s “Free the Law” project can offer a floor of crucial information and offer sophisticated techniques for visualizing relations among cases and searching for themes.

“Complete results will become publicly available this fall for CA and NY, and the entire library will be online in 2017,” said Daniel Lewis, chief executive and co-founder of Ravel Law, a commercial start-up in California that has teamed up with Harvard Law for this project. The cases will be available at www.ravellaw.com. Ravel is paying millions of dollars to support the scanning project. The cases will be accessible in a searchable format and will be presented with visual maps developed by the company. It hopes to make money by offering more advanced analytical tools still being developed, like how judges responded to different motions in the past all for a fee.

Legal aid lawyers and public criminal defenders called the Harvard project a welcome development that may save them money and make the law more accessible to struggling lawyers, students and even inmates who try to mount appeals from barren prison libraries.

Alex Gulotta, executive director of Bay Area Legal Aid in Oakland, CA, called the project “brilliant” and put it in a broader context of making government information more readily available. “Knowledge is power. People will always need lawyers, but having resources available for self-help is important.”

Article via NY Times, October 28, 2015

Photo: Law books 2 via Eric E. Johnson [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Moving toward world peace through hackathons

Hackathons have proven to be a great way to use tech for good. Often described as a great equalizer, technology can be leveraged to bring voice to people that society often ignores. Social activists are turning to hackathons to help spread their message and develop solutions, instead of waiting on the government to initiate change.

One such activist is Hera Hussain, founder of the advocacy group Chayn. Chayn is a volunteer-led, open source project that leverages technology to empower women against violence and oppression so they can live happier and healthier lives. They offer tools to help abused women build a domestic violence case without a lawyer, and advise about how a person can be tracked on and offline, among other things. This organization is all about individuals empowered to make change. One of their main ways to get the community involved is hackathons.

Hussain says that hackathons are events that bring together important parts of society that isolate themselves when it comes to women’s issues. “You either have events that just focus on women…” Hussain says, “or you have events that are completely dominated by men and are either forgetting that women exist or have separate issues. There’s very little middle ground that uses an integrated women lens as part of a broader focus of solving societal challenges.”

Bringing together these problem solvers is crucial to making real progress in the future. Hussain states that Chayn is about solving problems with, and not for, women in different communities. This organization is dedicated to allowing women to choose what they want to do with their lives while being treated equally during the process. Hussain says, “We always come back to independence and happiness as our two biggest goals..”

Article via Good Magazine, 22 September 2015

Photo: Hacking for Women’s Empowerment via Bread For The World [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


The case for domestic workers rights

Domestic workers do the work that make all other work possible. They are the nannies that take care of children, and the house keepers that keep homes clean while their owners are working. They are often working for less than $13 and hour and without benefits like health insurance or social security payments. 95% of these workers are women according to the National Domestic Workers Alliance site.

Ai-jen Poo is trying to change that. She is the director for The National Domestic Workers Alliance, an organization that works for the respect, recognition and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers. “The future really needs the leadership of women…”, Poo says in the video explaining the organization and their work. “Domestic workers…[are] caring for our children, our aging loved ones, our homes…the most precious elements of our lives”.

The MacArthur Foundation agreed, and awarded Poo a Genius grant for her work with The National Domestic Workers Alliance in 2014. The grant will allow for the Alliance to continue to shed light on the plight of domestic workers, whose work is often hidden from public view. Much of this kind of work was done by family members in the past, and never afforded the protections of labor laws. That means that domestic workers are not only working for little pay, but with no sick time or vacation. No protection against discrimination or harassment. No retirement plan or health insurance plan.

Poo has stated that the biggest change that she is hoping to make is respect and recognition for the value of this work. “We as a country need more care than we ever have before”, says Poo. “Yet, this work is so undervalued in society. It is almost taken for granted or invisible”.

 

Video via Mashable, 18 September 2015

Photo: Filipino Domestic Worker via ILO in Asia and the Pacific[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Ellen Pao moving on, won’t seek appeal to sex discrimination loss

Ellen Pao has been in the news a lot in the last couple of years. She has had a very high profile suit (and loss) to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as well as very public exit as CEO from Reddit.  After 3 years of litigation in her sex discrimination suit against Kleiner Perkers, she has decided to call it quits.

According to a guest post that she wrote on re/code, Pao has decided to move on.

“Over the past three and a half years, I have pursued a legal case against Kleiner Perkins for gender discrimination and retaliation”, says Pao. “Seeking justice in the courts has been painful for me personally and professionally, and for my family. I am now moving on…”

She went on to say how her experience shows how hard it is to bring gender discrimination suits in our legal system.

“Our society is struggling with workplace discrimination and harassment…human resources is a company-oriented function — when you can find it at all. But we have a long way to go, as women and minorities continue to make up a small fraction of the management at our most lucrative and productive companies.”

Ellen Pao’s struggle is a reminder that gender discrimination is still a large issue that is hard to prosecute. She documents how she was out numbered by the other side from the beginning, and believed that her only option was to trade her silence for a settlement. She has chosen to do neither in an attempt to bring sex discrimination issues to light in the hopes to foster debate and improvement.

Article via CNet, 10 September 2015

Photo: The girl with no feet via Riccardo Romano[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


UK Courts to Develop Internet-Based Dispute Resolution System

Online court proposed to resolve claims of up to £25,000 (The Guardian, 15 Feb 2015) – The UK justice system should receive a radical overhaul for the digital age with the creation of an online court to expand access to justice and resolve claims of up to £25,000, the official body that oversees civil courts has recommended. In a transformative proposal for largely lawyer-free, virtual courtrooms, the civil justice council is calling for an internet-based dispute resolution system to be available within two years. Backed by Lord Dyson, the master of the rolls, who is head of the civil judiciary in England and Wales, the report says existing services – such as eBay’s disagreement negotiation procedure and Cybersettle’s blind-bidding operations – provide prototypes worth studying. The online dispute resolution (ODR) model proposed in the report envisages a three-tier process: evaluation through interactive services and information, negotiation with online “facilitators” and finally, if agreement has not been reached, resolution by a trained judge relying on electronic submissions. Only the judge need be legally qualified. If necessary, telephone hearings could be built into the last stage. Rulings by the online judge would be as enforceable as any courtroom judgment. The report’s principal author, Prof Richard Susskind, who is president of the Society for Computers and Law, said the UK was falling behind other countries that have begun to incorporate online elements into their judicial systems. His recommendations include “automated negotiation” where differences may be resolved “without the intervention of human experts” by relying on blind bidding processes.

 

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Image courtesy of OTA Photos (Creative Commons) http://bit.ly/1zm0SNx

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