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Archive for November, 2012

FLF Members, please check your in-boxes for the 411 on our plan for the National Day of Rememberance and Action on Violence Against Women. Technically, it’s Dec 6 (the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre), but because that day is soooo close to exams around here, we will mark it on Thursday November 29.

Our plan is to have a fund-raising bake sale for one of Winnipeg’s women’s shelters, Osborne House. We would love to have some baking donated by anyone who is able to contribute! If that is the kind of thing you’re into, then PLEASE DO!

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It’s a pretty well established phenomenon in many upscale Canadian pubs and bars that (young) women tend to work as servers, hosts and bartenders (i.e., the tip-getting jobs) and men tend to work the kitchen jobs and as bar-backs and bouncers (i.e., the lucky-if-they-get-tip-share jobs).
A male busser at the Quail in Toronto brought a human rights complaint, alleging that he was being discriminated against based on sex, because as a man, he didn’t think he had the chance to work in one of the tip-getting jobs. Despite the fact that the adjudicator more or less recognized as fact the prima facie discrimination, the complainant lost because he hadn’t gone through the process of applying for a server job, and so hadn’t actually been denied the opportunity on the basis of his sex.
As Doorey writes in his blog post, “What if he had asked to be a server and the employer had denied the request by saying that they prefer to have women working out on the floor? Would the employer being [sic] violating the code then? If that would constitute sex discrimination, do you think that the employer could nevertheless defend itself by demonstrating that being a women is a bona fide occupational requirement of being a bar server?…What argument would the employer have to make to fit is ‘women server’ policy within that exception? Would it succeed?”
Note: For anyone interested in labour and employment law issues, Doorey’s blog is the bomb.com! And thanks to Dayna Steinfeld for passing this along!

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Update: Convocation of the Law Society of Upper Canada has voted to extend the Parental Leave Assistance Program, with a few modifications (eligible applicants must prove a net practice income of less than $50,000 to qualify). Good for them for not putting the SUC in LSUC!
Ps. At the same time, LSUC also voted to implement a new articling system that could mean drastic changes for soon-to-be law grads in Ontario. Not really a feminist issue, but big news for law students coast to coast! You can read about this controversial move here: http://www.lawsocietygazette.ca/news/articling-debate-new-licensing-programs-approved/    and here: http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/legalfeeds/1102/LSUC-articling-task-force-reports-calls-for-alternative-to-current-program-Sub.html

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The Law Society of Upper Canada is looking at terminating a program that provides funding to lawyers in sole- or small-firm practice who have babies and need to take time away from work, and as a result, risk losing their practices. This Parental Leave Assistance Program (PLA) was set up in 2008 as part of a strategy to combat the high number of women leaving private practice after 5-10 years, providing recipients with $3000/month for 3 months to help pay their over-head costs while on leave.
Canadian Lawyer’s blog reports that, while those in favour of terminating the program point to parallel EI benefits that are available in lieu of the PLA program, elibigility for EI requires having paid into the program for 12 months before benefits can be claimed, and many women are not necessarily planning their pregnancies that far in advance. The author notes that male lawyers in similar practice situtaions are also eligible for the PLA, but have less frequently availed themselves of it.

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http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/was-what-jenny-mccarthy-did-to-justin-bieber-sexual-assault/article5448106/

Yes, the above article is about Justin Bieber, but whether you love or hate the Biebs the article also discusses some very important issues surrounding the stereotypes associated with sexual assault and men, such as the double standard with which men and women are held. Aaccording to the article above, “Consider, for instance, if the roles were reversed and a 40-year-old male celebrity groped an 18-year-old starlet, and blamed it on “emotions” taking over. Surely that wouldn’t fly.” (The article was in response to Jenny McCarthy’s inappropriate kissing and groping of Justin Bieber at the American Music Awards).

Any thoughts FLF readers?

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Gender vs Religion

Here’s an interesting and developing story about what happens when rights conflict. A woman seeking a haircut from a Toronto barbershop was refused service, on the basis that all of the barbers were male muslims whose religious beliefs dictate that they may not touch women they are not related or married to. The woman has filed a human rights complaint with the Ontario HRC, on the basis that she has been discriminated against based on gender.
How should conflicts like this be resolved? Should the barbers be forced to provide haircuts to women, even if it means infringing their deeply held beliefs? Is there a means of achieving reasonable accommodation in this instance, like having the shop employ a female barber, or a barber who doesn’t share these religious beliefs? Issues like this are notoriously tough, but pretty darn interesting.

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http://jezebel.com/5961710/awesome-six+year+old-girl-writes-to-hasbro-about-gender-inequality-in-guess-who

A 6 year old girl wrote to Hasbro about the gender inequality in their game Guess Who. The above article includes the girl’s letter, the company’s technical response to the girl’s letter, a responding letter the girl’s mother writes to Hasbro over their inadequate response to her daughter’s letter, and then the company’s response to the mother’s letter.

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