Pages

Friday, December 13, 2019

Requa case settlement

Plaintiff Joe Requa
Blog readers will know that a group of retirees from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory sued the Regents in 2010 when the lab's management was spun off and they experienced a cut in retiree health care benefits.*

At issue in the Requa case, indirectly, was the larger issue of whether the Regents had an obligation to provide retiree health care in a manner similar to the obligation to provide a pension, or whether retiree health care is just a nice thing the Regents choose to do. The official position of the Regents is that there is no obligation.

The risk for the Regents is that had the case gone to trial, and had the verdict been a win for the plaintiffs, there would then be a court decision potentially affecting all UC employees, not just those who had worked at Lawrence Livermore, saying retiree health was a legal obligation. On December 11th, a settlement agreement was filed which outlines a monetary settlement and appears to drop claims of Regental legal obligation. (The settlement has to be approved by the court, but approval is likely.)

The headline dollar value of the settlement is $84 million. Various legal and other documents are available at http://llnlretiree.com/uc-retirees-who-worked-lawrence-livermore-lab-reach-84-million-settlement-university-california. Below are some documents from the December 11th filing that indicate that there is no inference that the Regents have an obligation to provide for retiree health care. [Clicking on the images will enlarge and clarify them.]

Released claims:
Source: http://llnlretiree.com/sites/default/files/legal-documents/Memorandum%20of%20Points%20%26%20Authorities%20in%20Support%20of%20Petitioners%27%20Motion%20for%20Preliminary%20Approval%20of%20Joint%20Stipulation%20of%20Class%20Action%20Settlement%20%26%20Release.endorsed.pdf (p. 18)

More on released claims:
Source: http://llnlretiree.com/sites/default/files/legal-documents/%5BProposed%5D%20Order%20Granting%20Preliminary%20Approval%20of%20Stipulation%20of%20Class%20Action%20Settlement%20%26%20Release.pdf (p. 7)

Explanation to plaintiffs:
Source: http://llnlretiree.com/sites/default/files/legal-documents/Declaration%20of%20Scott%20H.%20Freeman.endorsed.pdf (p. 6)

===
*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2019/07/requiem-for-requap.html

Thursday, December 12, 2019

UCLA Anderson Forecast still suggests a slowing state economy - Part 2

We earlier posted about the UCLA Anderson Forecast that was released last week.* 

The Forecast project now makes its sessions available on YouTube. Below is the California portion of the Forecast.

The complete program is available at the Forecast website.**


===
*https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2019/12/ucla-anderson-forecast-still-suggests.html
**https://www.anderson.ucla.edu/centers/ucla-anderson-forecast/december-2019-economic-outlook

Vaguer Than You Might Think

Yesterday's announcement of a new presidential order dealing with campus anti-Semitism provoked a lot of comment and controversy, although the actual text was not immediately released. Much of the early news media coverage occurred before the text was released. Below is the actual text which is now available. Yours truly has put some language in boldface for emphasis.

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1.  Policy.  My Administration is committed to combating the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incidents in the United States and around the world.  Anti-Semitic incidents have increased since 2013, and students, in particular, continue to face anti Semitic harassment in schools and on university and college campuses.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq., prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance.  While Title VI does not cover discrimination based on religion, individuals who face discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin do not lose protection under Title VI for also being a member of a group that shares common religious practices.  Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.
It shall be the policy of the executive branch to enforce Title VI against prohibited forms of discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism as vigorously as against all other forms of discrimination prohibited by Title VI.
Sec2.  Ensuring Robust Enforcement of Title VI.  (a)  In enforcing Title VI, and identifying evidence of discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, all executive departments and agencies (agencies) charged with enforcing Title VI shall consider the following:
(i)   the non-legally binding working definition of anti Semitism adopted on May 26, 2016, by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which states, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.  Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities”; and
(ii)  the “Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism” identified by the IHRA, to the extent that any examples might be useful as evidence of discriminatory intent.
(b)  In considering the materials described in subsections (a)(i) and (a)(ii) of this section, agencies shall not diminish or infringe upon any right protected under Federal law or under the First Amendment.  As with all other Title VI complaints, the inquiry into whether a particular act constitutes discrimination prohibited by Title VI will require a detailed analysis of the allegations.
Sec3.  Additional Authorities Prohibiting Anti-Semitic Discrimination.  Within 120 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency charged with enforcing Title VI shall submit a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, identifying additional nondiscrimination authorities within its enforcement authority with respect to which the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism could be considered.
Sec4.  Rule of Construction.  Nothing in this order shall be construed to alter the evidentiary requirements pursuant to which an agency makes a determination that conduct, including harassment, amounts to actionable discrimination, or to diminish or infringe upon the rights protected under any other provision of law.
Sec5.  General Provisions.   (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
It might be noted that the above order deals with Title 6. Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which bans employment discrimination (but not admissions) does cover religion. It covers most major employers including colleges and universities.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Maybe adulthood is not a Big Deal

From the LA Times of Dec. 10: Conner Wright is carrying a demanding course load in his final year as an English major at UC Berkeley: antebellum American literature, introduction to music therapy and a research seminar on William Shakespeare. The 20-year-old senior is immersed in the works of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville and Harriet Jacobs. But Wright, who is anticipating his graduation in May, has the self-awareness to know he needed a little something extra to prepare for his launch into a post-college world, that a superior ability to interpret classic literary works may not be enough.

So he signed up for a class on “adulting,” where he is learning to create and stick to a personal budget, build a resume and apply for jobs and navigate romantic relationships in a time when online interactions are eclipsing face-to-face encounters. “I need to learn how to get this adult thing down and manage life,” Wright said.

The class, which has 30 students enrolled in each section, is led by two Berkeley undergrads who plan discussion topics and schedule guest speakers to fill 90 minutes each week. The “adults in training” are among thousands of people across the country who have signed up for courses that focus on things such as cooking or budgeting or time management. Adulting classes for college students and postgrads have swelled in popularity in recent years, in part because many high schools have largely abandoned “life skills” courses such as home economics, which were created to help students navigate the path to adulthood...

Full story at https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-10/adulting-is-hard-uc-berkeley-has-a-class-for-that

Note: Before drawing big intergenerational conclusions from the above story, consider this statement later in the article: "The courses... count for one or two credits and are offered as pass/no pass; as a result, students say they are unlikely to add to their stress levels."

Moreover, the story actually first appeared elsewhere over the past summer: https://www.sfgate.com/education/article/Adulting-DeCal-class-list-UC-Berkeley-Cal-14368771.php. With impeachment and all, you wouldn't think December 10th was a slow news day in which old stories needed to be rehashed to fill space. But maybe it was.

In short, maybe it's not a Big Deal.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Dropping the SAT? - Further Update

From NPRA lawsuit expected to be filed Tuesday is challenging the University of California system's use of the SAT or ACT as a requirement for admission. A draft of the document obtained by NPR argues that the tests — long used to measure aptitude for college — are deeply biased and provide no meaningful information about a student's ability to succeed, and therefore their requirement is unconstitutional...

Public Counsel is filing the suit in California Superior Court on behalf of students and a collection of advocacy groups...

UC spokesperson Claire Doan couldn't comment on the lawsuit because it hadn't been filed yet. She says a special faculty task force is currently investigating the use of standardized testing in admissions, and the university system is "waiting for the assessment and recommendations from the ... Task Force before determining whether any steps should be taken on this important issue." ...

Full story at https://www.npr.org/2019/12/10/786257347/lawsuit-claims-sat-and-act-are-illegal-in-california-admissions

===
Previous blog posts on this topic can be found at:
https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2019/11/dropping-sat-update.html and https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2019/11/dropping-sat.html.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Complications at Berkeley

Inside Higher Ed carries a story about a Berkeley undergrad who made racist statements on a video. Exactly why the video was made is unclear. But, in any case, the student was quickly identified on social media. Yours truly has removed identifying info in the accounts below, but a quick web search would reveal the student's identity. What emerges is a profile of an Indian-American math genius who got into Berkeley at a particularly young age:

From Inside Higher Ed: A video quickly circulating on social media that depicts a University of California, Berkeley, student saying that African Americans, LGBTQ people and women don't deserve rights has caused outrage on the campus. The university condemned the video and said that while it couldn't discuss issues with a specific student, "appropriate actions" were being taken, reports The Mercury News.* Students quickly stepped up and reported the video to campus officials and residence life officers (the video appears to have been filmed in a dorm room). The young man in the video appears to have already been identified on Twitter, and an individual claiming to be him has apologized for the video in a post on Reddit. In the video he rants to his friends about how he doesn't like African Americans and how certain groups don't deserve rights.

Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2019/12/09/uc-berkeley-condemns-racist-video
===========
*From the Mercury News: ...On Reddit, an individual claiming to be the student who filmed the video said it was recorded as a joke and the original copy was deleted after a few minutes, although copies were made of it before that. “This video was recorded when we aren’t at the clearest of minds, but he was just trying to be edgy and he was betting that it wouldn’t be posted,” the student, using an anonymous account, wrote. “This was a staged recording.” ...

Full article at https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/12/07/racist-video-sparks-outcry-at-uc-berkeley/
===========

The student's profile appeared in an article in a hometown newspaper a couple of years ago: [Again, identifying information is removed below, although a little bit of searching would reveal the source.]

At the age of 2, Student X created digital pictures on his home computer. By the time he was 6, the boy had the ability to design web pages. When he was 9, Student X earned the distinction of being the youngest person in the world at the time to become a Microsoft certified technology specialist. As a 10-year-old student at X Elementary School, Student X supplemented his studies with college courses at X College. So is it any wonder that Student X, now a 14-year-old freshman at X High School, earned perfect scores on two SAT subject tests? The teen aced both the physics and math level 2 tests and received a perfect 800 score on each.

“At the end of the math 2 subject test, I was very confident I did well,” Student X said. “The physics test was harder than the math test because it involved more memorization of formulas and also needed math without a calculator.” In May 2016, Student X became the youngest person to earn two associate degrees, in natural science and math, from X College. He graduated with honors. Student X didn’t go into the subject tests cold. He studied on his own and took numerous practice exams for several weeks before each test so he’d know what to expect. “Also, my college courses which I took at X College helped a lot,” he said.

Student X took the College Board math test in August and the physics test in October, learning his scores three weeks after completing each test. “I expected a perfect score in math II, so I was not very surprised,” he said. “However, the perfect score in physics was very surprising since I thought I got a 780/800.” He will take the full SAT in December.

Student X plans to capitalize on his achievements by attending college early. He will apply to Caltech in fall 2018, with the goal of studying computer science and applied physics at age 16. After earning a Ph.D., Student X hopes to land a job at NASA. But for now, he continues to be an active teen. He plays chess— and has won two titles—and soccer, is an avid reader, volunteers for various city events, and enjoys gardening and his many parakeets. Student X launched the X Math Circle, a student-run, nonprofit community service organization, about two years ago and is continuing with the program at X High. He said the free educational program focuses on problem-solving skills to help students become successful academically and in the real world...

===========
It's not clear how the Berkeley authorities have dealt or will deal with this situation. But it is a reminder that undergrads, no matter how bright, can be immature. In this case, we apparently have a particularly young individual. Dealing with this matter will be complicated. What would you do? What are the "appropriate actions"?

Sunday, December 8, 2019

And the link is where?

 NOTE: Although the LA Times article says the Title IX report on the Heaps affair has been "made public," yours truly has been unable to find a link to it on the UCLA website as of this morning (Dec. 8), including on the official page devoted to the Heaps affair: https://www.uclahealth.org/heaps.

The search engine on the UCLA website did not produce the report, nor did a more general Google search. Yours truly used such search terms as "Heaps," "Title IX," "UCLA," in various combinations. What turned up in the searches were older UCLA postings and news articles, but not the report that was "made public" last week. Presumably, the LA Times received a copy along with the various law firms involved. (As the ads reproduced with this post indicate, there is something of a Heaps legal industry developing.)
---
From the LA Times: The behavior of a prominent UCLA Health gynecologist during an exam with a married mother of four amounted to sexual assault and harassment, according to an investigative report by the university made public Thursday. It took UCLA almost two years to complete the investigation into allegations raised by a patient against Dr. James Heaps, a 63-year-old physician who was arrested in June on sexual battery and exploitation charges.

The woman saw Heaps in June 2017 to have an intrauterine device, or IUD, removed after she experienced intense uterine cramping shortly after the device was inserted. During the appointment, Heaps allegedly grabbed the woman’s left breast and her buttocks and fondled her clitoral piercing. The doctor’s behavior frightened and alarmed the woman, who was seeing Heaps because her usual gynecologist was unavailable, and she later told her doctor what happened in the appointment, according to the report and interviews with the patient and her attorneys. A panel of three board-certified physicians and third-party evaluator who reviewed the case were unanimous that Heaps acted inappropriately in touching the woman’s breast and buttocks because she didn’t report pain in either...

Heaps, through his attorneys, has said everything he did was medically appropriate, and his attorneys have said Heaps was a talented physician who saved women’s lives through his work in gynecological oncology...

Full story at https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-05/ucla-investigation-prominent-gynecologist-sexual-assault