After eighteen months of life outside the womb, Coy Mathis expressed desires to be a girl despite having male organs. According to Mathis’ parents, Coy’s gravitation towards feminine clothing and toys traditionally associated with girls were non-verbal expressions of a female identity. And by age six, Coy verbally articulated the belief of being a girl. Instead of fighting Coy, Coy’s parents accepted the belief by obtaining a passport identifying Coy as a girl, notifying the school to treat Coy as a girl, and having Coy’s medical information identify Coy as a girl. And when Fountain-Fort Carson School District denied Coy access to the girls’ bathroom because of his male organs, Coy’s parents fought back.
The Mathis family filed an action with the Colorado Division of Civil Rights alleging that the elementary school violated the state’s public accommodations law when it denied Coy “full equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, and advantages because of her sex (female) and sexual orientation (transgender).” The school district defended its decision arguing that Coy was not denied access because of sex or transgender status, but because having someone with male organs using the girls’ restroom created safety concerns for parents and other students. Additionally, it would set the precedent for transgender individuals in high school.
The state agency ruled for Coy holding that because state law recognizes transgender individuals as a protected class under the public accommodations law, and has previously provided transgender individuals the right to restrooms consistent with their gender identity, the school district committed unlawful discrimination. The agency further claimed that the school failed to provide any evidence that parents had legitimate concerns against Coy using the girls’ restroom, and that telling Coy “she must disregard her identity while performing one of the most essential human functions constitutes severe and pervasive treatment.”
At age six, Coy Mathis set a precedent for many schools dealing with this issue. So naturally the critics ask should the world accept the notion that a six year old child is equipped to identify his or her gender. While much debate lies on whether certain preferences are born/revealed versus developed over time, teachers and parents are nonetheless charged with the responsibility of training and guiding how children think and behave. Is it possible to lead and follow a child? Can we discern when a child is revealing an identity versus experimenting with options?
In an economy recovering from a recession, many companies offer unpaid internships to students able to sacrifice payment for the benefit of experience. Even recent graduates unable to find employment have settled for unpaid work. So just when an employer thinks it can save money while increasing manpower, the law pumps the brakes.
On June 11, 2013, a federal district judge held that unpaid interns were in fact employees entitled to pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Despite acknowledging to an agreement not to be compensated in exchange for experience, the interns at Fox Searchlight Pictures argued that they were performing the same work as paid employees and received nominal benefit. And an agreement to waive potential violations of rights is generally held invalid.
Under the FLSA, the general rule is to pay anyone who is permitted to work. An intern is an exception if the intern’s benefit exceeds the employer’s benefit, and the employer does not exercise the same amount of control it has over paid employees. For Fox Searchlight, not offering college credit and having interns perform the same menial tasks as paid employees made it susceptible to liability. And under the FLSA, an employee can receive double damages for lost wages.
Distinguishing interns or volunteers from employees as been an issue for years, but the publicity of this case may halt potential usage of unpaid interns. The last thing a company wants is to argue in court over whether a disgruntled intern was in fact an employee. For many, disputing with paid employees drains enough money from its revenue. Alternatively, most unpaid interns do not turn around and sue for compensation and it offers great training in the event a full time position becomes available. Should college students be concerned?
According to ABC television, just because it is summer does not mean sunny skies and walks on the beach. So I must resurrect from my break and continue blogging. On June 3, 2013, the season premiere of Mistresses aired on ABC. The love triangle between Olivia, Fitz, and Millie has ignited a storyline for all third parties of extramarital affairs. While the drama offers all the ingredients for sensationalized television (i.e. sex from the very beginning to the very end), thanks to attorney Savannah (Alyssa Milano’s character) there was a brief moment of consciousness.
Yunjin Kim plays Karen, a therapist sexually involved with a patient suffering from a terminal illness. And of course the patient is married. While the R&B singer Fantasia learned the hard way that an affair with a married man could lead to a court battle, Karen’s bigger concern is losing her livelihood by committing medical malpractice.
A malpractice claim stems from the personal injury tort of negligence. It requires a duty to exercise professional and competent care, and a breach of that duty that results in injury. While I am not a therapist, in the legal world successful therapy sessions create the presumption that the patient opened up about insecurities, feelings, joys, and sorrows. In doing so, the patient becomes vulnerable which can lead to feelings and romance. This begs the question of whether the feelings were genuine or whether the therapist took advantage of a successful session. And the argument of being soulmates is likely not enough to get past the presumption that a romantic relationship stemmed from the therapist’s breach of her duty not to take advantage of such vulnerability.
But I am not implying that a married man gets a pass because his “mistress” (or lover if you prefer) is his therapist. He did make a commitment to his wife to remain faithful (at least in some states adultery is grounds for divorce) and he breached that commitment. So who is more or less at fault for his infidelity?