HUD fires back at downsizing critics with $200,000 consultant's report

March 27, 1998
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, under attack for
slashing agency jobs to meet an arbitrary target of 7,500 employees, fired back yesterday with a new consultant's report calling the number "sufficient" if certain management reforms are successfully implemented first.  HUD Inspector General Susan Gaffney criticized the department last year for rushing to reorganize and cut its size without adequate analysis. Within a few months of the reengineering announcement, some 800 employees had accepted buyouts, she said, and the downsizing target had been picked without analyzing HUD's mission or workload. 

More people with depression seeking relief from discrimination

March 27, 1998
A growing number of people suffering from depression are arguing in court, schools and the workplace that they should not be penalized for problems they trace to their mental illness. So far, most such lawsuits have been unsuccessful. But advocates for people with disabilities say the issue is still new to the courts, and they expect that the steady increase in claims will result in a new body of law relating to mental disorders. 

Study:  Racism is factor in difference between black and white death rates

March 27, 1998
Racism is an underlying factor in why black men in the United States have an overall death rate which is almost 50 percent higher than that of white men, scientists said Friday. "Racism can be considered the 'missing variable' in research on black-white differences in health," George Davey Smith, professor of social medicine at Bristol University in southwest England, said in a study published in The Lancet medical journal Friday. 

U.S. Supreme Court takes up questions of workplace harassment

March 26, 1998
The Supreme Court on March 25 took up for the first time the question of when an employer should be held financially responsible for the groping, vulgar language or other sexual harassment by its supervisors. The two cases argued before the justices ultimately could affect how both private companies and government employers respond to sexual misconduct, what they do to stop it and how vulnerable they are to victims seeking money damages.

Report:  D.C. lenders discriminate against black and Hispanic borrowers

March 25, 1998
Washington, D.C.,-area lenders discriminate against two out of five black and Hispanic mortgage applicants, according to a study released on March 24 by the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington.

Mississippi opens files of former state agency that fought desegregation

March 18, 1998
After a 21-year court fight, the state of Mississippi on Tuesday unsealed more than 124,000 pages of previously secret files from a state agency that used spy tactics, intimidation, false imprisonment, jury tampering and other illegal methods to thwart the activities of civil rights workers during the 1950s, '60s and early '70s.

Insurance commissioners support law to protect domestic abuse survivors

March 17, 1998
he National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has given final approval to a model law aimed at protecting domestic abuse victims from discrimination by insurance carriers. The model legislation, which deals with protecting against discrimination in property/casualty insurance such as auto or homeowner coverage, was developed over the past two years by a Working Group headed by Washington State Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn. In the meantime, state-level legislation has already been adopted in a handful of states, including Washington, where a bill awaits the Governor's signature.

Kentucky agency settles discrimination suit against Nationwide

March 16, 1998
Nationwide Insurance Companies has agreed to establish a loan program for home purchases and repairs, hire an additional African-American insurance agent in Lexington and pay $30,000 in legal fees and costs to settle a lawsuit filed by the Lexington Fair Housing Council. The lawsuit alleged that Nationwide agents were engaged in a pattern or practice of racial discrimination in the sale of homeowners’ insurance policies in Lexington.

Organization files discrimination suit against Brooklyn realtors

March 13, 1998
The Open Housing Center of New York has filed a federal class action lawsuit accusing a Brooklyn realty company of illegal housing discrimination against African Americans. In the suit, the Open Housing Center seeks to require the realty firm to stop discriminating and to offer minorities equal opportunity at rental units. It also seeks monetary damages to pay for fair housing training and advertisements in minority media to inform minorities of rental units in the Bay Ridge area.

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