M&S Holds the Administration Accountable

October 29, 2020

by M&S Staff

OP-ED: Trump Administration Should Not End Diversity Training for Federal Workers

M&S partner Ellen Eardley responded to the Trump administration’s directive to the OMB to dismantle racial sensitivity training in an op-ed for Government Executive, deeming the memo divisive propaganda:

“Unsurprisingly, the tenor of the memo suggests that white people are the victims of this alleged un-American propaganda: “employees across the Executive Branch have been required to attend trainings where they are told that ‘virtually all White people contribute to racism’ or where they are required to say that they ‘benefit from racism.'”

Diversity Training for Federal WorkersContrary to President Obama’s Executive Order 13583, Establishing a Coordinated Government-Wide Initiative to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce, the Trump administration’s decision to stymie diversity and inclusion training ignores racism and bias that endures in our workplaces today.

After Ms. Eardley’s op-ed was published, the Trump administration doubled-down on its attack. It issued an  Executive Order 13950 intended to discourage or police diversity efforts not only in the federal workplace but also by federal contractors and federal grant recipients. Another OMB memo followed shortly thereafter; it instructs federal agencies to identify FY2020 training that includes so-called “divisive concepts” by searching their files for key words, such as “white privilege,” “intersectionality,” “systemic racism,” and “unconscious bias.” The Department of Labor issued FAQs in early October suggesting that it would begin investigating complaints regarding diversity training immediately. A growing number of federal contractors and grant recipients are publicly raising concerns about the Administration’s efforts and the immediate, irreparable impact the Executive Order and related guidance are having on their operations.

Read the op-ed in full at the Government Executive’s website here.

M&S Files Lawsuit Against Trump Administration for Voter Intimidation in Violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Vote line

Last week, M&S, along with co-counsel at Free Speech for People, a nonpartisan nonprofit legal advocacy organization, and a New York law firm, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP, sued the Trump administration for voter intimidation in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The plaintiffs are Mi Familia Vota Education Fund (“MFV”), a nonprofit, national civic engagement organization with the mission of uniting Latino, immigrant, and allied communities to promote social and economic justice, and two individual voters.

The lawsuit, which names President Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf as defendants, details acts of violent suppression of public protests, the encouragement of white supremacists, voter suppression and rejection of a peaceful transfer to power. Each of these allegations argues that the Trump administration violated not only the Voting Rights Act but also the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution.

In a statement, Ron Fein, legal director at Free Speech For People said:

“President Trump and his administration have intimidated voters by violently suppressing peaceful protests, encouraging vigilante violence, discrediting voting by mail, sabotaging mail delivery to undermine voting, threatening to send law enforcement to polling places, and refusing to recognize the legitimacy of election results if Trump is not declared the winner. The court should protect the fundamental right to vote by blocking President Trump’s attempts to prevent a free and fair election.”

The plaintiffs are seeking court orders ceasing the Trump administration’s unlawful conduct while preventing any future attempts at voter intimidation as the November 3, 2020 election approaches and the ballot-counting process that will then follow the election. A hearing on plaintiffs’ motion for injunctive and declaratory relief is set for the afternoon of Thursday, October 29.

Recent media coverage includes stories in ForbesThe HillNewsweekAlterNet.

M&S Scores Win for Farmers Policyholders

On September 4, 2020, Judge Maren Nelson of the Los Angeles Superior Court issued an ordergiving final approval of a class action settlement resolving policyholder claims that Farmers Insurance Company had charged its most loyal policyholders more than was justified by the risk they present, based on their lack of price sensitivity.

The $15 million settlement will provide compensation to approximately 600,000 long-term policyholders in California who were over-charged. As a condition of the settlement, Farmers has also agreed not to consider its policyholders’ price sensitivity in calculating its auto insurance rates in California. Judge Nelson signed the order of judgment on October 26, 2020.

Co-counsel in the case are Berger Montague, Tycko & Zavareei, and Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman.