Litigating Like Lincoln

Posted by on Feb 16, 2009 in People In the News

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in….”Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural address.
Sometimes litigation feels like war. The other party is your “adversary.” There are battles, there is strategy, questions of when and where to spend your resources. You hope for the quick win, but everyone knows that there is the possibility of a drawn-out internecine conflict.
For lawyers and litigants who really care about being principled, kind, and good people, conduct of litigation can bring a dilemma. How to engage in battle without losing what is most important in yourself?
Abraham Lincoln’s words are helpful. Even in the midst of a war that caused untold death and destruction, Lincoln counseled moving forward “with malice toward none; with charity for all.” But, he wasn’t taking a wimpy position by any means. In the same sentence, he urged his listeners not to give up the fight — “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.”
And, so we litigate. Without malice, and without losing our sense of decency, we can still strive to prove our cases, to finish our work, and to work for the result we think is right. I’m going to try to litigate like Lincoln.
Happy President’s Day.

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Age Discrimination in the Philadelphia Fire Department

Posted by on Feb 1, 2009 in Age Discrimination, Hiring Criteria, People In the News

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
What kind of legal advice did the Philadelphia Fire Department rely on when it instituted a policy of not hiring fire fighters over the age of 40? Seven applicants proved that they were highly qualified and could pass the physical test, but they were still turned down solely because of age. I’m gratified, but not surprised, that the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission (PHRC) found last week that the policy violates the state prohibition of age discrimination.
Here’s a link to the story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/38741837.html

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Obama Signs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into Law

Posted by on Jan 30, 2009 in Gender Discrimination, People In the News, Supreme Court

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act yesterday. I’ve written about this legislation before, and won’t repeat it today, except to say that this is a sign that the current Congress is willing to take action to protect employees’ rights, and a sign that Congress is willing to overrule the Supreme Court when it will not fully implement Congressional intent.
Here is an excerpt from President Obama’s remarks:
“Equal pay is by no means just a women’s issue — it’s a family issue. It’s about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition and child care; couples who wind up with less to retire on; households where one breadwinner is paid less than she deserves; that’s the difference between affording the mortgage — or not; between keeping the heat on, or paying the doctor bills — or not. And in this economy, when so many folks are already working harder for less and struggling to get by, the last thing they can afford is losing part of each month’s paycheck to simple and plain discrimination.
“So signing this bill today is to send a clear message: that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody; that there are no second-class citizens in our workplaces; and that it’s not just unfair and illegal, it’s bad for business to pay somebody less because of their gender or their age or their race or their ethnicity, religion or disability; and that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook. It’s about how our laws affect the daily lives and the daily realities of people: their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.
“Ultimately, equal pay isn’t just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it’s a question of who we are — and whether we’re truly living up to our fundamental ideals; whether we’ll do our part, as generations before us, to ensure those words put on paper some 200 years ago really mean something — to breathe new life into them with a more enlightened understanding that is appropriate for our time.”
— Pres. Barack H. Obama, in remarks at signing ceremony for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, Jan. 29, 2009

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Martin Luther King Said It Better Than I Can

Posted by on Jan 19, 2009 in People In the News, Racial Discrimination

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
As someone who works daily on cases involving racial discrimination and other prejudices, I can’t let Martin Luther King Day pass without comment. But, anything I can say is inadequate, both to the memory of Martin Luther King and to the anticipation of our first African American President. Rather than waste time with my own words, I’ve given you a few of my favorite MLK “law, justice and employment” quotes.
“A right delayed is a right denied.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

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We’re Still Not There on Gay Rights

Posted by on Jan 15, 2009 in People In the News, Sexual Orientation Discrimination

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
If you have time to escape to the movies this weekend, I recommend: “Milk.” Sean Penn was terrific. Do we think that Harvey Milk would be pleased with the progress we’ve made on civil rights protection for gays? Probably not.
Thirty years after Harvey Milk’s assassination, bigotry and discrimination against gays and lesbians remains socially acceptable in too many circles and legal in too many states.

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We're Still Not There on Gay Rights

Posted by on Jan 15, 2009 in People In the News, Sexual Orientation Discrimination

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
If you have time to escape to the movies this weekend, I recommend: “Milk.” Sean Penn was terrific. Do we think that Harvey Milk would be pleased with the progress we’ve made on civil rights protection for gays? Probably not.
Thirty years after Harvey Milk’s assassination, bigotry and discrimination against gays and lesbians remains socially acceptable in too many circles and legal in too many states.

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