Saturday, November 4, 2017

Justice Department's Choice for Head of Civil Rights Department Spent Years Defending Discrimination

Trump’s Choice for Leading the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department stands in Opposition to what his Job is actually supposed to do.

In his Bio on the website of the influential Law Firm Jones Day, Eric Dreiband, who is awaiting Confirmation to the Top Civil Rights job in the Justice Department, lists some of the biggest Cases he’s worked. Dreiband’s specialty is defending Companies Accused of Discrimination, and the List includes high-profile Clients such as tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds and CVS Pharmacy.

He defended big Corporations against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), including CVS Pharmacy in a Case over its Severance Agreements and Bloomberg in a Pregnancy Discrimination Case. Most famously, Dreiband was part of a Team that defended the Retailer Abercrombie & Fitch for refusing to Hire a Muslim Teen whose Headscarf violated the Company’s “look” Policy. The Case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where Abercrombie Lost. Dreiband also took his Expertise to Congress on several occasions, where he urged Reforms that would Reduce the EEOC’s Authority.

What’s telling about Dreiband in his work against the EEOC is that he actually Worked for the EEOC as its General Counsel from 2003-2005, which means he left the Agency and decided to sell his soul in the Private Sector by Defending the very same Employers the Agency used to Prosecute for Discrimination. Presumably, he took everything he knew and used it against the EEOC to help Big Business avoid having to pay Millions of Dollars and to allow them to freely Discriminate against whoever they want to.

In 2010, he was Hired by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in Defense of the fact that they Discriminated against a Muslim Woman that they offered a Job to and later Rescinded based on her Religion. In the Spring of 2009, the Commission Hired a young Woman named Safiya Ghori-Ahmad as a Staff Analyst for the South Asia Region. Born in Arkansas, Ghori-Ahmad came to the Job with a Law Degree, a Master’s Degree, fluency in Hindi and Urdu, and enthusiastic Reviews from those who had interviewed her. But after accepting the Job, it became clear that her Muslim Faith, Indian Heritage, and past Employment at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a Group that Advocates on behalf of American Muslims, were a Problem for some of the Commissioners.

According to a Complaint Ghori-Ahmad filed in Federal Court three years later, several Commissioners objected to her Hiring. In an internal email, the Complaint alleges, Commissioner Nina Shea wrote that Hiring a Muslim to Analyze Religious Freedom in Pakistan would be like “hiring an IRA activist to research the UK twenty years ago.” Shea denied writing the email. Ultimately, the Commission Revoked Ghori-Ahmad’s Job Offer four weeks after Extending it.

But after an outcry from the Commission’s Staff, the Commissioners voted to give her a Three-Month Temporary Contract, during which time she was Forbidden to work on matters related to Pakistan. During her Temporary stint, Ghori-Ahmad filed a Complaint with the EEOC, alleging that the Commission had Rescinded her Employment offer due to Religious Discrimination. At the end of her Temporary Contract, the Professional Staff wrote a Joint Letter to the Commissioners recommending that Ghori-Ahmad once again be Offered a Staff Position. The Commissioners declined to Hire her.

The USCIRF is a Government Agency. However, Dreiband’s argument was that since “Congress had failed to specifically mention that the commission would be subject to congressional rules, it was free from the civil rights laws that govern entities in the legislative branch.” He Won. The Case was Dismissed by an Administrative Judge. Today, due in part to backlash to this Case, the Commission is now Explicitly under the Nation’s Civil Right’s Laws. And Ghori-Ahmad’s Case, which was allowed to Proceed because the Commission is now under the Country’s Civil Rights Laws retroactively, was Settled in 2014 in Her Favor.

While that one wrong was righted, it doesn’t change the fact that Dreiband is on the Wrong Side of the line when it comes to Civil Rights. He’s being brought into the Justice Department to continue Jeff Sessions’s Mission to Dismantle the Freedoms and Rights for marginalized Groups who need Protection from Discrimination under the Law. He will most certainly remain cozy with his Big Business friends and help them beat Discrimination Cases from inside the Government.

This is incredibly damaging to all the Progress we’ve made toward Civil Rights.

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