Law and Disorder Radio

Law and Disorder July 20, 2009

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Veolia railway veolia rail abandoned

French Company, Veolia Abandons Light Rail Project Linking Illegal Jewish Settlements

A French multinational company, Veolia Transport, contracted  to build a light rail tramway system linking west Jerusalem to illegal Jewish settlements has abandoned the project. The rail system would have grouped more Jewish settlements into the State of Israel and help annex the Palestinian territory of east Jerusalem. The victory came about from years of coordination by the French, Dutch and British groups, as well as the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

Omar Barghouti:

  • Israel has not found an effective weapon to counter the civil non-violent weapon of the Palestinians.
  • BDS is a movement based on Palestinian rights, to live without occupation, without colonization, without apartheid and the system of discrimination.
  • A colony is a base for settlers who have are aggressive / military and confiscate more Palestinian land. Stealing more land, stealing water, cutting Palestinian trees, doing very nasty colonial acts.
  • Boycott Divest and Sanction / BDS movement – Motorola / Israeli fruit and vegetables in Europe
  • Divest, is when you pressure a university like Hampshire College to divest from companies profiting from the occupation. Also churches and unions can be pressured and levied.  Sanction is a boycott by state. A decision by sovereign governments to isolate another government. Sanctions take a long time to get going.
  • Veolia is part of a consortium that is contracted to build a light rail to connect illegal Israeli colonies with Jerusalem.
  • International support for the Derail Veolia campaign came from Australia, Sweden, Britain, France and Tehran.
  • Veolia lost 8 billion in contracts mainly due to the boycott movement.
  • Veolia has not withdrawn yet, its a very technical process requiring Israeli approval. But Veolia has said it can’t sustain the losses and has considered withdrawing.
  • This victory told us that you can’t censor yourself. Veolia says it will sell its 5 percent share in the consortium light rail.
  • The project is illegal, that’s why people didn’t have to think twice to stop it.  Israel’s reaction to Veolia withdrawal and BDS movement, very hush hush, which was intentional.
  • The boycott campaign is impacting Israeli produce. Israeli barcodes begin with “729.”  The BDS movement is growing in Indonesia, Brazil, Venezuela.

Guest – Omar Barghouti, founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Omar is a Palestinian political analyst and doctoral student of philosophy (ethics) at Tel Aviv University. His articles have appeared in the Al-Ahram Weekly, Z-Magazine, and Counterpunch.


firefighters - courtesy of smittys pics complaint2 riccovdestefano

Ricci v. DeStefano

Last month,  the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Ricci v. DeStefano that a group of white firefighters and one Hispanic had been discriminated against when the city threw out a 2003 lieutenants’ promotion exam after African-American firefighters scored lower than required. The higher scoring firefighters say the decision is unfair and compared it to (quote) reverse discrimination. The high court declared that white firefighters in Connecticut were unfairly denied promotion because of their race, ruling against minorities and overturning Supreme Court nominee Judge Sotomayor’s earlier ruling.  Title VII

Attorney Richard Levy:

  • The question: When can an employer set aside a hiring test or procedure because it has adverse impacts on a minority group?
  • In the Connecticut firefighters case, whites passed the exam at levels twice that of blacks and hispanics.
  • The city decided to take a look at the test, considering the adverse impact on minority officers in the fire department.
  • The city held a number of hearings that determined that the test should not be certified.  As a result a group of white firefighters backed by their unions, sued the city.
  • They said, wait, now you’re discriminating against whites because we studied and passed, and black and latinos did not, doesn’t mean that the test is bad.
  • The test had a 60 percent written component and 40 percent oral component. (Test questions were not reviewed by anyone in the New Haven fire department)
  • The test was created in a way that purportedly measured firefighter skills. However, oral skills in the field are much more important than written.
  • Title VII says that you have to look at exams that are neutral on their face, but not neutral on their outcome.
  • The Supreme Court says you can’t just throw out a test because blacks didn’t do well, suppose it’s a test that is fair and necessary for job performance? You are then discriminating against those who took the test and did well to perform the job.
  • Supreme Court: What should the standard be.  A new standard.  Must have a strong basis in evidence that the test is not valid.
  • Five of the nine justices changed the standard.  It raises the standard for a city to do what its supposed to do.
  • The Supreme Court did not allow the case go back to the city where they could show “strong basis in evidence”
  • A result oriented outcome, an activist right wing bench changing the law, and the parties are not allowed to present evidence in light of the new law.
  • Forty percent black in Connecticut. Their fire department has 30 percent black incumbency.
  • NYC is 28 percent black, the fire department is 3 percent black incumbency. Levy Ratner is challenging the NYC test. (entirely written some physical, no oral component)  CCR Firefighters Case in NY. Vulcan society brought the case several years ago.

Guest –  Richard A. Levy (Cornell, B.A., 1964, NYU School of Law, J.D., 1968) is a senior partner at LR. He has practiced labor, employment, employee benefits and civil rights law since 1971. During law school he was associate editor of the Annual Survey of American Law.  A member of the United States Supreme Court Bar, Levy has lectured at conferences for the NLRB, AFL -CIO, Practicing Law Institute and has published articles on labor law and civil rights litigation.  He has served on the Lawyers Advisory Panel of the AFL -CIO.
Richard Levy has litigated a number of important employment discrimination class actions.  These include Grant v. Bethlehem Steel, 635 F.2d 1007 (2d Cir. 1980) (finding prima facie case of disparate treatment and disparate impact in failure to promote black ironworkers into supervisory jobs); Latino Officers Association v. City of New York, 209 F.R.D. 79 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (class action challenge to disparate discipline in the New York Police Department, with settlement for up to $20 million in damages and injunctive relief) and most recently, United States v. City of New York, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39514 (E.D.N.Y. 2009) (representing class of African-American applicants for entry-level firefighter jobs with City of New York ).


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