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March 31, 2005 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-31

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2A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 31, 2005


Court supports elderly workers NEWS IN BRIEF
#a l



WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme
Court made it easier yesterday for any
worker over 40 to allege age discrimina-
tion, ruling that employersican be held lia-
ble even if they never intended any harm.
About 75 million people are covered
by the decision. The ruling makes it
clear that older workers will have a high
threshold to prove their claims.
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that
in some cases employers are within
their rights to treat workers differently
because of age.
"Age ... not uncommonly has rel-
evance to an individual's capacity to
engage in certain types of employment,"
wrote Stevens, who at 84 is the court's
oldest member.
The ruling sides with older police
officers in Jackson, Miss., in saying they
do not have to prove that the city deliber-
ately tried to discriminate against them,
just that the policies disproportionately
harmed them. Nevertheless, the high
court dismissed the suit, saying officers
did not demonstrate that.
The ruling means that older workers
now have less of a burden to raise their
claim in court when suing under federal
law, although ultimately it may still be
hard for them to win.
The decision was unanimous in dis-
missing the police officers' suit, but 5-3
in holding that such suits are permitted
under age-discrimination laws. Chief
Justice William H. Rehnquist did not

participate in the decision, which was
heard in November when he was being
treated to thyroid cancer.
"This is a major boost for the fight
to eliminate age discrimination in the
workplace. Evidence that an employer
is intentionally out to get older workers
is very hard to come by," said Laurie
McCann, senior attorney for AARP.
The Supreme Court already has said
the so-called disparate impact claims

are allowed under
Title VII of the ee oft
1964 Civil Rights
Act, which bans correlation
based on sex, reli- an individu
gion or race. On
Yesterday, justices her ability
said it should be
no different for age her job."
discrimination, - San
although it ruled Su
the scope of liabil-
ity is narrower.
At issue was
workplace polices that appear neutral
but actually disproportionately hurt
older workers. Advocates for the aging
say few employers would ever be up front
about intentionally favoring younger
workers, making age bias claims hard
to win absent the rare "smoking gun."
Employers say allowing disparate
impact claims under the Age Discrimina-
tion in Employment Act would hinder their


ability to make necessary decisions based
on age-neutral factors, such as training or
performance, even if the impact happens
to be greater on older workers.
The ruling in some ways strikes a
compromise between the two.
It allows older workers to make a dis-
parate impact claim under the ADEA
regardless of intent; but at the same
time, it permits an employer to cite "rea-
sonable" factors, such as cost-cutting, to
justify a practice
that penalizes
n is a older workers so
between it prevails at trial.
Justice Sandra
al's age and Day O'Connor
agreed that the
o perform police officers'
suit should be dis-
missed but argued
ra Day O'Connor that ADEA bars
erne Court Justice disparate impact
claims. She said
Congress never
intended such
lawsuits because employers should have
flexibility to make business decisions that
might unintentionally hurt older workers.
Because older workers tend to be
longtime employees with higher pay
and more benefits, a business might
inadvertently violate the law when it
cuts expenses, even if no ill intent was
involved, O'Connor noted. Her concur-
rence was joined by Justices Anthony

Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.
"There often is a correlation between
an individual's age and her ability to per-
form her job," O'Connor wrote. "That is
to be expected, for physical ability gen-
erally declines with age, and in some
cases, so does mental capacity."
The work-force is steadily aging,
and the government predicts that by
2010, more than half of all workers are
expected to be 40 or older.
Despite the aging trend, lawyers say
employers often have economic incen-
tives to weed out older workers. That's
because longtime employees may have
higher medical bills and have locked
in more expensive salary and benefit
In the Mississippi case, 30 officers
and dispatchers sued over a pay perfor-
mance plan they said gave substantially
larger pay raises to employees with five
or fewer years of tenure; as a result, that
had an unfavorable impact on employ-
ees 40 and over.
The lower courts threw out the suit,
reasoning that disparate impact claims
were barred.
In its ruling yesterday, the Supreme
Court said that while police officers
can get into court to show unfavorable
impact, they failed to do so here. It said
the city's explanation that it was trying
to make salaries for junior officers more
competitive with similar positions was

Pope given feeding tube for recovery
Pope John Paul II is getting nutrition from a tube in his nose, the Vatican said Yes-
terday, shortly after the frail pontiff appeared at his window in St. Peter's Square and
managed only a rasp when he tried to speak.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the step was taken to "improve the
pope's calorie intake" and so he can recover his strength. It was unclear when the tube
was inserted, but it was not visible when John Paul made his appearance.
The tube is not the only source of nutrition for the pope, a Vatican official said on
condition of anonymity.
Asked about reports of a possible hospitalization, the official said there were no plans
at this time and any decision would be up to his doctors.
The medical report was the first issued on the pope since March 10.
The statement appeared indirectly to deny media reports that the 84-year-old pope
might be hospitalized again to insert a feeding tube in his stomach because of problems
swallowing food.
Atlanta court denies parents' appeal
With time running out for Terri Schiavo, a federal appeals court Yesterday
rejected her parents' latest attempt to get the brain-damaged woman's feeding
tube reconnected.
The Atlanta-based 1lth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to consider an emer-
gency bid by Bob and Mary Schindler for a new hearing in their case, raising a flicker
of hope for the parents after a series of setbacks in the case. But the court rejected
the bid 15 hours later - the fourth time since last week the court ruled against the
"Any further action by our court or the district court would be improper," wrote
Judge Stanley E Birch Jr., who was appointed by former President Bush. "While the
members of her family and the members of Congress have acted in a way that is both
fervent and sincere, the time has come for dispassionate discharge of duty."
The decision came as Schiavo approached her 13th day without food or water.
Settler: Disarmament should be mandatory
Jewish settlers should hand over their weapons before the planned Gaza with-
drawal this summer to prevent any chance of bloody confrontations with Israeli
troops over the dismantling of settlements, a settler leader said yesterday.
The proposal by ultranationalist lawmaker Effie Eitam marked the first time a
settler leader acknowledged the potential for violence among settlers during the
withdrawal. Eitam and another prominent settler, Bentsi Lieberman, said troops
should also be barred from carrying firearms at the time.
"Then we will also ask the settler community to freely give up their weapons
several days before the (evacuation) so that all of us can enter this struggle with
clean hands, and that it will be limited to what can be done democratically," Eitam
told Israel Army Radio.
Many Jewish settlers in Gaza and the West Bank are armed, and settler leaders
have warned that extremists could be planning to fire on authorities during the
withdrawal, set to begin this summer.
Lawmakers protest new voter ID legislation
Legislation that would require voters to show photo identification before casting
ballots has touched off fierce debate in three states, with opponents complaining the
measures represent a return to the days of poll taxes and Jim Crow.
Lawmakers in Georgia and Indiana walked off the job to protest the proposals,
which they say would deprive the poor, the elderly and minorities of the right to vote.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, has already vetoed a similar measure and has
vowed to do so again.
Republicans argue the bills would restore voter confidence and eliminate.
fraud without overly burdening voters, most of whom have driver's licenses or
photo IDs anyway.
"I want everyone to be able to vote - once," said Indiana state Sen. Victor Heinold,
a Republican.


Laura Bush lands
in Kabul to aid
women 's rights


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP)
- Inspired by Afghan women who
have boldly shed their burgas after
years of Taliban repression, Laura
Bush urged more educational oppor-
tunities and greater rights for women
yesterday in this war-wrecked
Under heavy security; Bush spent
just six hours on the ground after
flying nearly halfway around the
world. U.S. troops manned M-60
rifles at either end of four helicop-
ters that flew the first lady and her
entourage to Kabul University.
"We are only a few years removed
from the rule 'of the terrorists, when

U.S. first lady Laura Bush, center, speaks to some Afghan children after
visiting a bakery, rear, in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday.

women were denied education and
every basic human right," Bush said
at a teacher training institute.
"That tyranny has been replaced by
a young democracy, and the power of
freedom is on display across Afghan-
"We must be mindful though, that
democracy is more than just elec-
tions. The survival of a free society
ultimately depends on the participa-
tion of all its citizens, both men and
women," she said.
"This is possible if institutions like
this exist to give women the basic
tools they need to contribute fully to
society - and the most critical tool
of all is an education."
She wore an Afghan scarf on her
shoulders as she met with teachers
and talked with Hamid Karzai, the
president of Afghanistan. Stopping
at a bakery, Bush filled a box with
cookies and paid one dollar.
"Good deal," she said. She paused
outside the shop to talk with three
young children positioned to receive
gifts from Bush, who gave them a
kaleidoscope and a bookmark.
"This matters much more than
hundreds of millions of dollars
Karzai said of Bush's visit, although
the fragile democracy is heav-
ily dependent on international aid.
"Much more."
In remarks to U.S. troops after
dining with them at Bagram Air
Base, Bush told them, "Millions of
Americans are thinking of you and
praying for you every single day and
one of them is your commander in
chief," she said.
She said her day of meetings with
Afghans found great appreciation for
U.S. efforts.
"Thanks to you, millions of little
girls are going to school in this coun-
try," she said.
Bush is not the first first lady to
venture into a potentially dangerous
region. In 1969, Pat Nixon went to
Vietnam to visit a hospital and visit
with U.S. troops. And during World
War II, Eleanor Roosevelt, a Red
Cross representative, secretly flew
across the Atlantic, shocking Irish
farmers when she landed in their
Bush's trip, kept secret until the
last minute for security reasons, was
timed to coincide with a meeting in
Kabul of the U.S.-Afghan Women's
The group, formed in 2002, pro-
motes private-public partnerships
between U.S. and Afghan institu-
tions to help Afghan women gain the
skills and education deprived them
under years of the Taliban.
The first lady's stops sought to
put a positive spin on conditions
in Afghanistan where millions of
women and girls have returned to
work and school since the Taliban
was ousted.
Equality before the law is now
embedded in a new constitution, and
some women have abandoned the


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