A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Archive for 2011

Just in Time for Christmas…

Santa Presents

By LASIS Staff

Marty Kressman sued under the American with Disabilities Act because he was too big to fit inside the booth at his local White Castle restaurant, and last September, LASIS explained why the chances of his succeeding in his lawsuit were slim.

But O ye of little faith if you thought he was doomed to ordering takeout.

See here for the — ho ho ho — merry news for Mr. Kressman.

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Need a Little Something to Chill Out, Prof?

Smoking weed

By LASIS Staff

In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, George Washington University law professor Paul Butler writes about “jury nullification”, or a juror’s right to vote “not guilty” if she thinks that the criminalization of certain actions is just plain wrong.  As Professor Butler explains, earlier this year, Julian P. Heicklin was arrested for handing out leaflets to potential jurors outside a courthouse about their right to vote “not guilty” for cases involving marijuana usage.

About his own advocacy in this area, Professor Butler writes, “Given that I have been recommending nullification for nonviolent drug cases since 1995  -  in such forums as The Yale Law Journal, 60 Minutes, and You Tube  -  I guess I, too, have committed a crime.”

Stuff and nonsense. We wager that Professor Butler well knows he has committed no crime, and that this is mere hyperbole.  See here for the straight dope from LASIS.

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Just in Time for Hannukah…

@mx_600

By David M. Krisch

You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s Rye Bread. Or according to Sunday’s New York Times, to wed under a huppah.  But do you have to be Jewish to sue your employer for engaging in and allowing anti-semitic behavior?

Last August, executive assistant Ciro Rosselli filed a lawsuit against his employer McKinsey & Co. in the Southern District of New York, alleging religious discrimination and a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although the allegation sounds pretty commonplace, the facts of this lawsuit are anything but.

It all started with a yarmulke.

A yarmulke is a religious skullcap that Jewish men wear to show their respect for God; it also signals to the world that the men wearing them are Jewish.  But Mr. Rosselli, who practices “Theosophy,” began, as part of his spiritual exploration of life, to wear one to work.  This did not go over big with his coworkers, many of whom ridiculed him.  One coworker noticing him sporting the head covering accused him of trying to mask a bald spot.  His supervisor was even more direct, crying, “Take that off!” “You’re creeping me out!” And some made what Mr. Rosselli says were pointed anti-semitic references, such as “I guess I won’t be asking you for a loan.”

The media may have broken this story, but that’s about it.

Title VII prohibits the harassment of employees because of their membership to a protected class such as religion.  So we wondered — as others surely did — can an employee sue for religious discrimination targeting a religion he doesn’t belong to?   (more…)

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ABA chooses LASIS as a Top 100 Blawg

11Blawg100_VoteRedRec

By LASIS Staff

We’re only surprised it took the ABA this long to name us to their annual Top 100 list.

Actually, we’re honored and delighted to have made the list, and thank our readers and contributors, past and present.

LASIS reporters are busy studying for finals and then will get a much deserved winter break. So you may not be hearing from us for a while.

In the meantime, please register on the ABA journal site and Vote for Legal as She is Spoke. We’re in the Niche category.  You have until the end of December…

And feel free to email us with any stories you’d like covered in 2012!

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Stealing Secrets in the Sky

privacyScr3

By Leah Braukman

The Ethicist, our favorite Sunday New York Times Magazine columnist, recently explored this conundrum faced by “B.C.” of New Jersey:

On a recent flight, my colleague was seated next to an employee of our major competitor. My colleague realized this when the fellow began writing e-mails about possible problems with a significant new product. Is it ethical for us to capitalize on this fellow’s stupidity?

On the morality front, the views of The Ethicist, Ariel Kaminer, were clear. For example, reading your sister’s unlocked diary is a no-no, but reading information about your business competitor’s plans, if left out in the open, is perfectly fine. So if your airplane neighbor is careless enough to work on sensitive information in the close confines of an airplane, then you, the lucky competitor nearby, may profit from his carelessness guilt-free.

With regard to the law, things are a bit more complicated; those words on the passenger’s computer screen could contain a trade secret and therefore be legally protected. Ms. Kaminer wasn’t sure if seeing and then disseminating that secret would land B.C. in hot legal water, so she sought the guidance of an intellectual property attorney.

The verdict:  if the information is left out in the open, it’s no longer a secret, trade or otherwise.

But it’s not always this obvious.  How out in the open does something need to be in order to lose trade secret status?   Is a secret still a secret if someone can eavesdrop via high-tech hearing aid or peer through your bedroom window with binoculars? LASIS took the bait and investigated.   (more…)

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