Civil Rights Leaders To Intel: Stop Your Attack On Californians’ Civil Rights
Intel-Backed Ballot Measure Would Limit Class Action Lawsuits to End Racial and Other Discrimination
More than a dozen civil rights leaders including Connie Rice with the Advancement Project, SCLC’s Reverend Eric Lee, Stewart Kwoh at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and Eva Patterson of the Equal Justice Society called on technology giant Intel to withdraw a California ballot initiative that would devastate the class action system as a tool for civil rights enforcement in a letter sent today.
“Your initiative removes vital class action protections specifically intended to allow U.S. citizens to defend their civil rights,” wrote the civil rights leaders. “We must view this initiative as an attack on the civil rights of Californians.”
Read the letter:http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/intelltr.pdf
The letter followed Intel’s withdrawal of an advertisement that drew fire for being racially offensive. The ad features six African American men bowed at the waist before a smiling white manager. Intel’s apology for the ad noted that the men, dressed as sprinters, were meant to represent speed.
“You recently recognized how an advertising campaign misusing the images of African American athletes was insensitive and deserved to be withdrawn. We hope you will again thoughtfully respond by recognizing the unintended consequences of CJAC’s proposed initiative and withdraw it,” wrote the activists.
See Intel’s print ad: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/corporate/faxintel/
Watch the public respond in this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0FWLv0-82w
“The pending ballot measure proposed by the organization you now chair, the so-called Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC), could virtually eliminate the class action lawsuit as a tool for civil rights enforcement,” said the letter.
“Class action lawsuits have played a fundamental role in civil rights activism in America. The historic Brown v. Board of Education led to the desegregation of American schools. The 1990s saw the Denny’s restaurant chain hire a civil rights monitor and require racial sensitivity training after a lawsuit held it responsible for overcharging, ignoring and refusing to serve African American patrons. Consumers in 2007 are using class action lawsuits to take on the new front line in redlining - the use of credit scores as a proxy for race and income in insurance pricing and underwriting.”
The letter was sent to Intel CEO Paul Otellini and the company’s board of directors by: Connie Rice, Advancement Project, Rev. Eric P. Lee, SCLC, Eva Paterson, Equal Justice Society, Stewart Kwoh, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Community Coalition, Assembly Majority Leader Karen Bass, Robert Rubin, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Kevin M. Keenan, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, Ramona Ripston, ACLU of Southern California, Brad Seligman, The Impact Fund, Andrew Mudryk, Protection & Advocacy, Inc., John F. O’Toole, National Center for Youth Law, Jamienne S. Studley, Public Advocates, Inc., and Alan Schlosser, ACLU of Northern California.
The ballot measure would limit civil rights, worker and consumer protections by:
- Rigging the playing field in favor of big business by requiring evidence of wrongdoing before a case can move forward, but taking away consumers' and employees' existing right to gather that evidence
- Allowing lawsuits to be dismissed if a government agency is supposed to regulate the industry, even when the bureaucrats and political appointees responsible lack the resources, or simply refuse, to take action to stop the wrongdoing
- Permitting rich and powerful defendants to delay trials for years by allowing unjustified appeals at the beginning of a case
- Delaying justice, costing taxpayers twice as much and clogging the courts by requiring plaintiffs to file two separate lawsuits if they want to both stop an outrageous practice and receive refunds or be compensated for any damage they've suffered
- Intimidating low-wage employees by requiring individual members of a lawsuit be identified and exposed to possible retribution by their employers for joining an action about working conditions, or refusing to abandon their complaints
Read The Impact Fund’s analysis of the initiative’s impact on civil rights litigation, as submitted to California state officials: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/seligmananalysis.pdf
Read FTCR’s analysis of the initiative, also submitted to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/FTCR-Ltr-LAO_8-7-07.pdf