Washington Post Piece on Race Discrimination in the Sharing Economy

My coauthor Aaron Belzer and I have a piece on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage Blog today about race discrimination in the sharing economy. It builds on recent media attention, particularly the sobering stories shared on Twitter under the #AirBnbWhileBlack hashtag, and incorporates some of the analysis from our forthcoming article “The New Public Accommodations.”

“Identity Entrepreneurs” Selected for Yale/Stanford/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum

I am pleased to share that my article “Identity Entrepreneurs,” which is forthcoming in the California Law Review later this year, was selected for presentation the Yale/Stanford/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum. This year the Forum will take place in at Yale Law School on June 26-27. I’m excited to attend and to share my work with top scholars in my field, as well as to meet the other junior scholars whose papers were selected. You can find more information about the Forum here.

“The New Public Accommodations”: forthcoming in Georgetown Law Journal

Very pleased to announce that my article “The New Public Accommodations,” coauthored with Aaron Belzer, will be published in the Georgetown Law Journal in 2017. The piece discusses race discrimination in the sharing economy; all feedback is warmly welcome.

Justin Pidot: “Tie Votes in the Supreme Court”

In light of Justice Scalia’s recent passing, check out my University of Denver colleague Justin Pidot‘s brand new paper on SSRN, “Tie Votes in the Supreme Court.” Justin gives us some empirical data on 4-4 splits in the Supreme Court and argues that the court should dismiss cases as improvidently granted if the result would be a tie.

New on SSRN: “The New Public Accommodations”

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.

My Speaking Schedule at AALS 2016

I’ll be participating in three panels at the 110th AALS annual meeting in New York this year:

  • Affirmative Action After Fisher, January 7, 2016, 1:30-3:15 PM (with Erwin Chemerinsky, Ilya Somin, Devon Carbado, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Eric Segall)
  • Becoming a Legal Scholar, AALS Annual Meeting, January 9, 2016, 10:30-12:15 PM (with Brad Arehart, David Skeel, Reva Siegel, Sam Buell, and Lior Strahilevitz)
  • Roundtable: Increasing Author Diversity in Legal Scholarship, January 9, 2016, 3:30-4:45 PM (with a group of 15 law professors of different interests and backgrounds)

A link to the entire program and other information about the annual meeting is available here. I look forward to seeing colleagues who will also be attending the conference!

 

Negative Identity

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.

In Progress: The New Public Accommodations

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.