Scope Of Lawsuit Targeting Employers Using Facebook Targeting Tools Widens

A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the Communication Workers of America alleges that Facebook and other employers discriminated against older workers by utilizing algorithms that prevented them from becoming aware of targeted ads with job postings.

 

The original complaint, filed in December, coincided with a published report in the New York Times that questioned the policies regarding elders of employers posting online job ads. Facebook would later limit the abilities of agencies posting ads for jobs to exclude app users in certain demographic groups but did not change the ability of job posters to use age as a discriminating factor.

 

The filing by CWA was amended on Tuesday to now include additional complaints that include the allegation that Facebook practices open discrimination against older workers by allowing job posters to post ads for what is known as “look-alike” audiences. Attorneys for CWA explain that these ads target a narrow demographic by setting their sites on people that similar to current employees of companies.

 

The lawsuit revision also includes language suggesting that Facebook algorithms further exacerbate discrimination against older workers by narrowing the age ranges chosen by job posters more than originally intended.

 

Enterprise, Ikea, and the Medical System of the University of Maryland were three companies added to the amended lawsuit to bring the total targeted entities to fifteen.

 

Ifeoma Ajunwa, a sociologist with Cornell University, says that this type of discrimination was exactly what proponents of online hiring said would be remedied by the practice. In reality, Ajunwa surmises, this discrimination against online job seekers is just as prevalent as it has become in “real-world” environments if not more.

 

Facebook and the other companies mentioned have not been named as defendants in the lawsuit that instead focuses on companies that CWA and its lawyers say have used the advertising targeting tools.

 

A spokesman for Facebook on Tuesday advised that the company had issued a response to the original allegations in December stating that age-related targeting for employment advertising is an accepted industry practice and when used responsibly does not result in discrimination.

 

Harvey Weinstein Indictment Opens Possibility Of Past Accusers Testifying At Trial

Movie producer Harvey Weinstein made the choice Wednesday to not provide testimony to the grand jury that found cause to indict him on criminal sexual assault and rape charges.

Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer working for Weinstein, says that his client chose not to testify before the grand jury after being denied vital information that would have given him the opportunity to properly prepare.

The most serious acts charged by the grand jury is a first-degree felony resulting from allegations that Weinstein forced a woman to perform oral sex on him in 2004. Additional first and third-degree charges were added to the docket against Weinstein for incidents taking place in 2013 in which Weinstein is said to have committed rape by means of “forcible compulsion.”

The most serious charges filed against Weinstein can possibly result in a sentence from five to 25 years in the New York State Prison system.

Brafman says that all sexual acts were consensual and went on to say that one of the alleged victims was in a ten-year physical relationship with Weinstein and that the relationship continued long after the alleged sexual assault.

A recent story published by the Hollywood Reporter speculated about whether prior incidents involving abuse of women by Weinstein could be introduced by prosecutors. The story referred to the recent conviction of comedian and television star Bill Cosby of a similar crime in which five women were allowed to testify about “prior acts” committed against them by Cosby.

Many legal experts believe that the additional testimony by the five women from previous acts was the single most significant factor leading to the conviction of Cosby.

Former Manhattan prosecutor, Mark Bederow, says that this type of testimony involving prior bad acts is something that is generally not allowed in New York courts. However, there are times when this testimony is admissible to establish that a defendant commits a signature type of crime.

Bederow added that it is his thoughts that in the Weinstein case prosecutors will paint the “casting couch scenario” in an attempt to have this evidence heard by jurors.

Attorney General Sessions Decreases Power Of Immigraton Judges

Jeff Sessions, United States Attorney General, ordered on Thursday that judges overseeing immigration hearings cease the practice of suspending cases on their docket without issuing a judgment.

 

Advocates for the rights of immigrants are upset with the move on the part of Sessions as they view it as a way to unjustly influence immigration courts which are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. Advocates say the desired result is to expedite the deportation of more immigrants.

 

The practice that has been used by immigration judges is known as “administrative closures.” Judges would often close the cases of immigrants who are awaiting visas or green cards, a process that can sometimes take years, in order to avoid any deportation before their resident status can be upgraded.

 

Critics of the practice point out that in many cases immigrants have been allowed to remain in the U.S. longer than they legally should have.

 

Attorney General Sessions has been an ardent critic of administrative closures and even took the unprecedented step in January of having a case being heard by the Board of Immigration Appeals to be diverted to himself. The case involved a citizen of Guatemala who resided in America and had failed to show up for five immigration hearings. An immigration judge provided the respondent with an administrative closure ruling that attempts to deliver notice of hearings were inadequate.

 

In his Thursday order, Sessions acknowledged that the courts could not properly deal with the volume of cases that would need adjudication if prior administrative closures were to be reopened and ordered them to remain closed.

 

NAIJ President Ashley Tabaddor, says that Sessions’ decision effectively undermined years of efficient and effective operations and that there has been no evidence of any type of immigration abuse that would warrant the action that was taken.

 

The number of administrative closures greatly increased during the presidency of Barack Obama and reached 200,000 closures. The backlog for immigration hearings is presently well over 600,000 cases.

Group Seeks Legal Aid For Incarcerated Teens

Teenage young men being detained at a correctional facility in Southern Illinois will soon be afforded legal representation from private parties after concerns have been raised regarding their access to attorneys.

Lawyers are being recruited by the James B. Moran Center to provide adequate legal representation for youth accused of assaulting staff members at the youth center in Harrisburg, Illinois. The Moran center is an advocacy group that provides low-income youth in the Evanston, Illinois area with social and legal services, will also have lawyers carefully review the cases of a number of youth who have been previously convicted of crimes and are serving sentences as adults.

A published report by the Problica Illinois released in October showed that youth being held at the Harrisburg facility were being sentenced to significant times in prison for minor assaults on staff. These incidents had previously been handled by in-house disciplinary measures.

The staff at Harrisburg was found to have filed more criminal complaints against youth being held at the facility than the staff at the four other youth correctional facilities combined for the years 2016 and 2017. A large number of these cases were adjudicated in the juvenile court system but for offenders who reached their 18th birthday while still residents of the Harrisburg facility were charged as adults.

Moran Center Executive Director Patrick Keenan-Devlin is critical of the facility saying that not only is Harrisburg not providing these children with the rehabilitation necessary to reroute their lives but they are taking actions that further ensnare these youths into an already “broken system.”

The Moran Center received a $10,000 grant to hire attorneys that are willing to represent these youthful offenders. Keenan-Devlin says that the center will also talk to lawyers working for larger firms to dedicate their time and legal expertise in a volunteer capacity.

Saline County, where Harrisburg is located, is a town of 25,000 that does not have its own public defender’s office. Instead, the county enters into contract agreement with local attorneys to provide these services.

Government Official Resigns Over Fight Regarding Protection Status For Immigrants

The administration of United States President Donald Trump refused to heed the advice of experts when it forced officials with the Department of Homeland Security to revoke the Temporary Protected Status that had been enjoyed by Honduran nationals.

 

Temporary Protected Status is enacted to provide relief for individuals who cannot return to their country of origin due to prevailing dangers there often as a result of natural disaster or war. It has been normal procedure over the years for this status to be periodically renewed upon advice from United States diplomats working in the countries in question.

 

The Trump administration has operated quite differently from past administrations regarding the matter and already Temporary Protected Status has been taken away from Salvadorians, Haitians, and now Hondurans. The groups are now provided with 18 months to gain the legal right to reside in the country or before to leave the United States.

 

Despite warnings by the State Department that returning high volumes of immigrants to already troubled nations at once can work to destabilize these regions, it the position of the Trump administration that no threat remains in these immigrants’ countries of origin and it is safe for them to return.

 

Rex Tillerson, former Secretary of State, along with others, applied the pressure to former Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to end TPS for Hondurans. The decision was under the sole jurisdiction of Duke and despite her individual protests, she would eventually succumb to the pressure. Elaine Duke recently stepped down from the position.

 

Democratic Senators penned letters to the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the United States Immigration Services on May 7. The letters were requests to the agencies to investigate discrepancies between internal documents that encouraged the renewal of TPS for Haitians and the actions taken on the part of the Trump Administration. An additional request was made by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey to the United States Government Accountability Office to begin an independent investigation.

 

A recent report suggests that the move to withdraw TPS for certain groups along with the cancellation of the DACA program could affect the lives of as many as 1 million immigrants now in the country.

Backlash For Manhattan Lawyer Giving Racist Rant On Video Now Extended To His Employer

 

The response from the public came quickly as the man who has been surrounded by controversy since a tape of him going on a racist rant aimed toward Spanish-speaking employees of a local New York restaurant. The man, who has been identified as attorney Aaron Schlossberg, could be heard on the video threatening to call immigration officials on the workers in order to have them “kicked out of my country.”

 

The firm that employs Schlossberg, has been bombarded with negative reviews on Yelp as a result of the incident. Yelp has since removed the reviews and issued a statement saying that its policy is to remover all reviews, whether positive or negative, that are more motivated by current events in the news instead of the service provided by the company in question.

 

The obviously angered man while making his admonishment on video at a restaurant in mid-town Manhattan complained that workers were addressing customers in Spanish when “they should be speaking English.” Schlossberg was also sure to remind the workers that they now resided in America. He then made the accusation that the workers did not have the legal right to be in the country.

 

Columnist Shaun King, via The Intercept, an online news site issued a requested to his nearly 1 million followers on Twitter that they help with the identification of the individual in the video. King reports that the identification was made and confirmed with the help of seven former classmates of Schlossberg at John Hopkins University where he did his undergraduate studies, and George Washington University, where he obtained his law degree.

 

The next day while leaving his Manhattan apartment, Schlossberg found the New York Daily News waiting for him. Schlossberg made no comment to reporters but telephoned the police to report that he was being both harassed and defamed.

 

A second video has been released of Schlossberg, berating a man and using words that were blatantly racist. It is unclear when exactly the second video was recorded but it turns out the man was an American born citizen.

Comey Memo Says Jailing Journalists for Leaks was Considered

Since the Department of Justice’s decision to release memos written by former FBI Director James Comey in regards to his meeting with President Trump, one notable anecdote has been a quick aside in regards to stopping leakers within the Administration. The incident highlights both the Commander-in-Chief’s adversarial relationship with the press at large as well as a pattern within the memos of Director Comey’s attitude of passively acknowledging to a bare minimum the President’s unorthodox behaviors without becoming party to them.

The memo discloses that, at the tail end of a conversation between the FBI Director and the President, the subject turned to the leakers within the Administration and possibly other branches of the government that were frequently disclosing important or embarrassing information to the press. Around the time of the meeting, the President had publicly made it known his frustrations at the White House’s inability to keep information from being leaked to the press. Director Comey intimated a harsh response to leakers, saying he suggested seeing “the value of putting a head on a pike as a message.” The memo does not specify what Director Comey meant in terms of policy by that response

The President responded with the suggestion that journalists who report on the leaked information could be jailed to encourage compliance in identifying sources. “They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk,” the President specified. The Director reportedly laughed off the idea as he walked out of the office as at-the-time Chief of Staff Reince Priebus held the door. The memo is unclear how serious the President was.

The incident is just one example of the President’s cool regard towards the press. The label of “fake news” has been a mainstay of the President’s reactions to the press in briefings and on Twitter. Particular subjects of the President’s wrath has been CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

Judges Dismisses Charge In Sex Tape Case Involving Waffle House CEO

A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, made the decision to dismiss one of the two charges that have been lodged against a pair of attorneys and their client that stands accused of illegally recording a sex tape that could later be used to as the basis for a future lawsuit.

The unlawful eavesdropping charge that was levied against the trio was dropped by Judge Henry Newkirk. The client for the lawyers, Mye Brindle, was employed by Waffle House Chief Executive Officer Joe Rodgers Jr. as a housekeeper. The video that was recorded reportedly shows Brindle engaged in a sexual act with Rogers.

Brindle attorneys John Butters and David Cohen are still charged with violation of state eavesdropping laws that prohibit the recording of videos in a private location.

A lawyer for Brindle, defense attorney Reid Thompson makes the assertion that her client is a ‘victim’ and characterized the sexual act as just another ‘chore’ that she was required by her employer to perform. Thompson continued her explanation of her client’s actions by saying that Brindle was forced to make a decision that many women have to make in order to keep her job.

Thompson says that Brindle decided on recording the sexual acts she engaged in with Rodgers because he is a rich and powerful man and she felt vulnerable to his power.

Attorneys for Butters and Cohen argue that the pair of lawyers provided Brindle with proper legal advice and felt at the time that the actions undertaken were the right things to do.

Newkirk previously dismissed the entire case brought against the three defendants in 2016. In November, the Supreme Court in Georgia reinstated the Eavesdropping charges but agreed with Newkirk about the dismissal of extortion charges.

Rodgers has maintained throughout the ordeal that the sexual relationship he had with Brindle was consensual and the recordings were a crime of opportunity.

San Francisco Bans Fur Sales

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco unanimously passed a ban against the sale of fur in the city. All that remains for the ordinance to become law is for San Francisco mayor Mike Farrell to sign it, which he is expected to do.

If enacted, San Francisco will become the largest city in the United States to ban fur sales. Such bans already exist in smaller municipalities, such as West Hollywood and Berkeley, which are both in California as well.

The ban would become effective as of the first of next year, though it would not apply to either charities or second-hand shops. But it would apply to sales made online, whether such sales were made by businesses or individuals. Shops within the city limits that have inventories of fur would have until January of 2020 to liquidate such inventory.

Katy Tang, who is the city supervisor who sponsored the bill, hailed the passing of the bill. She also spoke out against the cruelty she believes occurs at fur farms. She said that these farms were violent places where animals are poisoned, electrocuted, gassed and injured for the sole purpose of producing clothing. She further said that it would not be right for San Francisco to continue allowing the sale of these products, and that the city should be an example for others, not just in this country but across the world.

Tang also posted on social media how many famous fashion designers have recently decided to cease making clothing products from fur. The list of designers include Versace, Michael Kors, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Giorgio Armani and Stella McCartney.

Many animal rights organizations expressed support for the ban. They include People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society and Direct Action Everywhere. Wayne Hsiung, who is the co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere praised Tang for helping create a more humane world for animals, and he said that it would help spearhead similar laws.

DC Lawyer Promises To Represent Trump Officials Who Break Nondisclosure Agreements

A top Washington, DC attorney has promised to defend any official in the Trump Administration who is willing to break the non-disclosure agreements they were required to sign before entering the government, and he is willing to do so free of charge.

Mark Zaid, who is a lawyer who specializes in cases involving government workers and their free speech rights, made the offer in response to a report that indicated that all Trump officials had signed non-disclosure agreements that forbid them from talking about their work within the Trump administration, both while they are on the job, and forever thereafter.

According to the report, any infraction of the non-disclosure agreements would be subject to a fine of $10 million. The agreements supposedly cover conveying information both to members of the media and to other government employees. It also prevents officials from conveying information even under the guise of fiction.

One of the founding partners of a nonprofit law firm called Whistleblower Aid, Zaid said that legally government officials could only be prevented from disclosing classified information after their government service was completed. Other civil rights and free speech experts concur with Zaid, and believe that the non-disclosure agreements in question are unconstitutional, which means that they cannot be enforced by law.

Ben Wizner, who works for the American Civil Rights Union (ACLU), said that the speech of public employees cannot be suppressed by private agreements. Heidi Kitrosser, who is a law professor at the University of Minnesota, agreed with him, saying that the agreements clearly violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Mark Fenster, who is a law professor at the University of Florida, added that public employees cannot sign away their right to speak.

Many of these experts further noted that officials in the Trump Administration do not actually work for the president, but for the United States. Therefore, only the government itself could enforce the agreements, which is highly unlikely to happen.