San Francisco, CA

Abercrombie faces discrimination suit

June 17, 2003
Abercrombie & Fitch, the clothing chain that promotes a "casual classic American" look, has been hit with a discrimination lawsuit accusing it of cultivating an overwhelmingly white sales force.
     When it does hire minorities, it channels them to stock room and overnight jobs, says the lawsuit, which seeks certification as a class action.
     The lawsuit, filed Monday by nine Hispanic and Asian plaintiffs, alleges that Abercrombie discriminates against blacks, Hispanics and Asians. It says company policy requires all sales people to exhibit an all-white "A&F look."

SF Housing Authority files countersuit against feds

June 09, 2003
The San Francisco Housing Authority has filed a countersuit against the U.S. government, charging that it is unfairly barred from applying for millions of dollars in federal grants because of a pending discrimination charge.
     The agency's lawsuit against the United States and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was filed in federal court in San Francisco on June 4.
     The suit challenges a HUD rule that disqualifies public housing authorities from applying for grants if they have been sued by the U.S. Justice Department for an alleged pattern and practice of discrimination.

Sex discrimination alleged at Wal-Mart

April 28, 2003
Female managers of Wal-Mart Inc. were required to attend strip clubs with male colleagues on business trips, according to a brief to be filed Monday in federal court for a group of California women suing the largest U.S. retailer for job discrimination.
     The women's declarations also say they had to take business meetings at Hooters, a restaurant where food is served by amply endowed women clad in tight shirts.
     And the top brass of Wal-Mart's Sam's Club stores referred to female employees in weekly executive meetings as "little Janie Qs" and "girls," even after a female vice president complained. The executive, who no longer works at Wal-Mart, said her complaint earned her a warning against being overly judgmental.

Disabled couple loses $18K discrimination dog fight

March 10, 2003
Pookie, the dog who rescued her owners from depression and blazed new legal trails after being evicted from their condo, couldn't melt the heart of a Placer County judge.
     Superior Court Judge John Cosgrove overturned a state agency's damage award to the mentally disabled couple who owned Pookie. Cosgrove's decision late last month means a condominium association in Auburn that evicted the wire- haired terrier mix under its no-dogs rule does not have to pay $18,000 -- the amount the state Fair Employment and Housing Commission had awarded Ed and Jayne Elebiari -- for discriminating against the disabled.
     Cosgrove said the Elebiaris had not given the Auburn Woods I Homeowners' Association enough medical evidence that they really needed Pookie. The couple have been diagnosed with clinical depression, which is a disability under California law.

150 years of unity celebration

March 06, 2003
For 150 years, the Third Baptist, First African Methodist Episcopal Zion, and Bethel AME churches have witnessed a dramatic shift in The City's landscape, from the times of segregation to the melting pot of ethnicities people see today.
     These churches provided a place where black community members could worship freely without discrimination, said George Woodruff, pastor of First AME Zion.
     "Each one of the churches have been a venue of freedom, (an) avenue of equality and justice, and a platform for civil rights and human rights," Woodruff said.

Whites swim in racial preference

February 21, 2003
Ask a fish what water is and you'll get no answer. Even if fish were capable of speech, they would likely have no explanation for the element they swim in every minute of every day of their lives. Water simply is. Fish take it for granted.
     So too with this thing we hear so much about, "racial preference." While many whites seem to think the notion originated with affirmative action programs, intended to expand opportunities for historically marginalized people of color, racial preference has actually had a long and very white history.
     Affirmative action for whites was embodied in the abolition of European indentured servitude, which left black (and occasionally indigenous) slaves as the only unfree labor in the colonies that would become the U.S.

AIDS Legal Referral Panel fights housing bias 

December 31, 2002
San Francisco's AIDS Legal Referral Panel has received a grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to fight illegal housing discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS, reports the Bay Area Reporter. The grant consists of $68,000 to be awarded over an 18-month period.
     "Certainly, having one of [the] tightest housing markets in the country helped to make the compelling case that what housing is available must be accessible to people with disabilities, including people with HIV," said ALRP executive director Bill Hirsh. ALRP is one of 99 groups across the country to be funded to help fight housing discrimination, to help HIV-positive people find and maintain adequate housing, and to promote awareness and knowledge of how fair housing laws apply to people with HIV/AIDS. 

OPINION: Freedom Under Attack

December 28, 2002
The government assault on the Second Amendment has been much in the news this year. Less noticed, however, even by the Second Amendment's fervent defenders, has been the ongoing effort to scrap the rest of the Bill of Rights.  
     Just as with the effort against the Second Amendment, which has been depicted by the mass media as an effort to "control crime," the campaigns against other fundamental liberties have been mounted under false rubrics for the purpose of deception. The enemies of the First Amendment, for example, want their efforts to stamp out Politically Incorrect speech to be viewed as a campaign for "human rights." Paramount among these human rights, in their view, is the right to feel good about oneself at all times (unless, of course, one is a heterosexual White male): hence, any spoken or printed word which may be offensive to members of an officially favored segment of the population is to be banned.
     The efforts to stamp out "offensive" speech have been reported earlier in these pages: see, for example, "The Campaign to Outlaw 'Hate'" in issue No. 111, and "The Destruction of the Academy" in issue No. 112. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm of the speech regulators for their work continues to grow. At the same time that they are becoming more Orwellian in their efforts, they are having more success at enlisting the police powers of the state to back them up.
      In some recent cases the law already has gone far beyond anything George Orwell himself could have imagined. In 1988 Congress enacted the Fair Housing Amendments Act (an enhancement of the Fair Housing Act of 1968), imposing severe criminal and civil penalties on anyone who interferes with the housing rights of federally favored groups. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which administers both acts, interprets as illegal interference any complaint--even a letter to a newspaper--about any of its projects to homogenize the U.S. population by establishing housing projects for its favored groups in predominantly White areas. It has sued or threatened criminal and/or civil action against a number of complainers recently: people who have objected to HUD plans for "rehabilitation centers" or "group homes" in their neighborhoods to house drug addicts or homeless alcoholics, for example. (The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 added mentally and physically handicapped persons to the federally favored list, and HUD and the courts since have ruled that alcoholics, drug addicts, and persons with AIDS are included among the handicapped). 

OPINION: Predatory lending mocks American dream

December 08, 2002
For nearly a year, a stealthy war has raged across the nation between housing activists and lenders over the issue of predatory lending. This is the ugly practice in which a handful of greedy and unscrupulous lenders shamelessly scam mostly the elderly, poor, and minority homeowners or prospective homebuyers. The lenders promise them quick cash, easy payments, and minimal paperwork to refinance or get a new home loan. In many cases the ink on the borrower's contract is barely dry when they discover that the lender has dumped hidden fees, an escalating interest rate, and an unyielding repayment schedule on them.
     When unsuspecting homeowners miss a payment or two, the lender slaps a foreclosure notice on them. If, or more likely when, they don't pay they are rudely booted from homes in which they have lived for years. The lender quickly puts the house up for auction or direct sale on and makes a killing.
     The drive to nail predatory lenders gained steam in October when Household International agreed to pay nearly $500 million to low income homeowners in 19 states and Washington D.C. to settle charges that it engaged in illicit lending and foreclosure practices. Housing activists won more victories when the Los Angeles City Council recently passed a tough ordinance that gives home buyers greater protection from lending home foreclosures by rip-off lenders. New York City, Oakland, and Philadelphia have also passed similar laws. 

Army dismisses gay linguists

November 14, 2002
Nine Army linguists, including six trained to speak Arabic, have been dismissed from the military because they are gay.
      The soldiers' dismissals come at a time when the military is facing a critical shortage of translators and interpreters for the war on terrorism.
      Seven of the soldiers were discharged after telling superiors they are gay, and the two others got in trouble when they were caught together after curfew, said Steve Ralls, spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group that defends homosexuals in the military.
      Six were specializing in Arabic, two were studying Korean and one was studying Mandarin Chinese. All were at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, the military's primary language training center.

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