Serious Blow to Equal Opportunity
Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — June 29, 2009 —
“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Ricci v. DeStefano
is a serious blow to equal opportunity and to the civil rights laws that women and people of color have long relied on to open doors in the workplace. This ruling makes it more difficult for good employers to stop discrimination, and is therefore a step backward for our nation. It limits the equal opportunity protections that for decades have helped women pry open the doors to high-paying jobs in firefighting and other traditionally male-dominated fields.
The Court today restricted employers’ ability to take common sense actions to avoid unfair practices in the workplace. With the job market shrinking and women’s incomes more important to their families than ever, we should be taking steps to ensure that discrimination never prevails. Instead, the Supreme Court today let the nation down by taking us in the opposite direction.
The National Partnership for Women & Families joined with leading women’s law experts to file an amicus curiae brief in this case. With our partners, we will explore all options to mitigate the impact of this deeply disappointing ruling. We urge the Obama Administration to move quickly to provide guidance to employers about what specific steps they can take to remedy the discrimination that still pervades our workplaces. We also will explore legislative remedies, as appropriate.
President Bush stacked the Supreme Court with Justices who lack a commitment to equal opportunity. Today, we saw the consequences when his appointees prevailed — but we are confident that, over time, this nation’s deep and enduring commitment to justice will prevail.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.