I’m excited to be participating in a few events for Alternative Constitution Day tomorrow, which Atiba Ellis of Race & Law Prof Blog discussed here.
First, I’ll be participating in the online symposium that Race & Law Prof Blog is hosting from February 3 through 12 — if anyone is interested in contributing a short (less than 500 words) contribution to the symposium, the link explains how to submit. Second, I’ll be facilitating a student discussion about Alternative Constitution Day at University of Denver Law along with my colleague Robin Walker Sterling.
A full draft of my article “The New Public Accommodations,” coauthored with Aaron Belzer, is now available on SSRN. Here’s the abstract:
The sharing economy raises important new questions about public accommodation laws. Such laws originally were enacted to prohibit establishments open to the public—for example, hotels, restaurants, taxi services, and retail businesses—from discriminating on the basis of characteristics such as race, color, religion, and national origin. Sharing economy businesses are functional substitutes for these traditional public accommodations. Yet existing public accommodation laws are not always a good fit for the unique features of the sharing economy.
This Article is the first to argue that public accommodation laws must evolve to address race discrimination in the sharing economy. Available evidence suggests that, in many circumstances, race discrimination affects the sharing economy in much the same way it affects the traditional economy. Sharing economy businesses use online platforms to connect providers of goods and services (drivers; landlords) with users of those goods and services (passengers; renters). These platforms often make race visible to both providers and users by requiring that they create profiles that include names, photographs, and other information. Such profiles may trigger conscious and unconscious bias and result in discrimination even if the parties never meet in person. Moreover, sharing economy businesses encourage or even require providers to rate users. Rating systems aggregate biases, and users who are members of disfavored racial categories may begin to receive worse service, or, eventually, to be denied service altogether.
This Article examines existing public accommodation laws—Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 1982, and the Fair Housing Act—and concludes that they hold considerable promise for remedying discrimination in the sharing economy. Nonetheless, the sharing economy presents new issues that existing laws do not entirely address. To the extent that sharing economy businesses perform the same function as traditional public accommodations yet escape existing laws, we argue that those laws should be amended and briefly describe the form the new laws should take.
Feedback is very much welcome–please feel free to contact either me or Aaron.
Pleased to be quoted at some length — and accurately — in this article in MacLeans about the so-called “PC Wars.” An excerpt: “Leong points out that the anti-PC backlash we’re seeing now is a product of ‘a lot of anxiety by members of historically powerful groups—namely, white men—about losing power and status.'”
I like to make my teaching evaluations public. After some experimenting, I think the easiest way to do that is just to share a link to this Dropbox folder. If you can’t ask the folder or believe that something is missing from it, drop me a line — I’m happy to make this information available.
My hands are much better but unfortunately still less than 100%. Looking on the bright side, I’m pleased to report that I’m now permitted to type a couple hours a day, and thanks to dictation software have been able to continue my research. I’m in the midst of a project about race discrimination in the sharing economy — I posted a short summary on SSRN a few months ago and plan to submit the piece for publication this spring, and look forward to teaching Constitutional Law next semester.
Given my other commitments, unfortunately I’m not yet able to resume substantive blogging, but you can find me on Twitter (and please don’t take it personally if I don’t always respond to messages there — it’s nearly always a product of my typing limitations). I’ll also try to update this blog more frequently with things like speaking engagements and media appearances.
My latest article is now out in the Southern California Law Review! You can download the final version here.
The piece is about identities defined by the absence of something that much of society thinks is important — for example, lack of religion, sexual desire, partnership, and children. I consider the existing protection that federal and state laws provide for atheists, asexuals, single people, and people with no children. I then consider whether such antidiscrimination protection is warranted, and whether it should be expanded.
I’m still taking a break from blogging while I continue to try to fully resolve my hand issues. I have, however, posted a short summary of my work in progress relating to race discrimination in the sharing economy on SSRN. The piece is called “The New Public Accommodations.” Feedback is welcome, and if you would like to see a longer draft in progress — one I’m not quite ready to post publicly — please feel free to email me.
Some of you know that I’ve struggled with carpal tunnel, tendinitis, and a host of other hand problems since my freshman year of college. That’s half my life now, and I’ve come to accept that this is going to be something I have to deal with indefinitely.
I’ve done a lot of writing in the past six months. I’ve also taught four classes and done all of the typing that goes along with teaching four classes. The result is that I have a lot of pain in my hands and forearms, and am taking a medically-necessary break from most typing and pretty much all blogging.
I’m continuing to use Twitter, because how much damage can I do to myself in 140 characters? Feel free to follow me here. (By the way, I tweet via Buffer, which is a huge time-saver; check it out if you haven’t already.) I’m also planning to resume releasing episodes of the RightsCast in a few weeks, because my right hand and arm — that’s my mouse hand, which is the one I use for video editing — usually heals faster than my left hand. And I’m experimenting with a few different dictation programs, although I have yet to find one that’s accurate enough that I don’t have to go back and edit at a level that undoes much of the benefit of dictating in the first place. I’ve also been trying to do all my email via dictation, which is frankly maddening. I apologize in advance if I’m slow to respond to an email or if you get an email from me with lots and lots of typos.
I hope this hiatus will be short-lived. I love writing and find it very hard to refrain. Please check back — I’ll post updates on my progress here.
I was happy to write this post for Ms. JD about how to decide whether to go to law school and how to succeed once you’ve decided to go. It’s not intended to be an exhaustive checklist, but I hope that it might help a few people think through the decision.