Law professor testifies before Congress on Discrimination Act

At the request of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, professor Michael Foreman, director of Penn State Law's Civil Rights Appellate Clinic, testified during a hearing on Wednesday, May 5, to examine H.R. 3721, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. If enacted, the legislation would restore civil rights protections for older workers stripped away by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 decision, Gross v. FBL Financial Services. Overturning well-established precedent, the Court in Gross changed the burden of proof on older workers in age discrimination cases.

Several students who provided research and helped draft the testimony shared comments about their experiences in the clinic. "Having the chance to get involved with legislation currently before the U.S. House of Representatives that could affect the lives of anyone discriminated against on the basis of age was a great opportunity," said Bret Shaffer '10. "Hopefully, our efforts will result in legislative change that will benefit all older working Americans."

"It's rewarding to see pieces of advocacy that we have worked on in the clinic take on a life of its own. Our voice is being heard by the only individuals that can change the law to once again protect older workers. This is what working in the Civil Rights Appellate Clinic is all about — impacting the law to impact lives in a positive manner," said Valerie Eifert '10. "Gross sounded a virtual death knell for the protection of older workers against age discrimination. Professor Foreman's testimony before both the House and Senate committees is getting us one step closer to making that impact."

Danya Ahmed '10 shared some of the same sentiments. "Last semester, I had the opportunity to work on the testimony that professor Foreman presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the same issue. His testifying on the same subject, this time before the House Committee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, brings home the fact that Gross has the ability to harm all Americans that attempt to bring discrimination claims, and it is gratifying to see that both the Senate and the House recognize the problem.”

Third-year law student Bret Shaffer helped to draft the testimony that Foreman presented.

"Having the chance to get involved with legislation currently before the U.S. House of Representatives that could affect the lives of anyone discriminated against on the basis of age was a great opportunity," said Shaffer. "Hopefully, our efforts will result in legislative change that will benefit all older working Americans.

In addition to directing the Civil Rights Appellate Clinic, Foreman teaches an advanced employment discrimination course. Prior to joining Penn State Law, he served as the deputy director of legal programs for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where he was responsible for supervising all litigation in employment discrimination, housing, education, voting rights and environmental justice areas since 2001.

To read Foreman's testimony, click here; to watch his testimony, click here.

 

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Last Updated November 18, 2010