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Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Law and Inequality
Most Americans know that discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and religion is unlawful. Seems simple enough. But advertisements in the back of newspapers still announce:
"Single White Female Seeks Single White Male?" Isn't that discrimination on the basis of race and sex? Most businesses don't consider men for women's locker room or bathroom attendant. And why aren't those men and women's bathrooms and locker rooms illegal segregation? After all, we know what would happened if some business set up separate bathrooms for blacks and whites. Isn't it discrimination for an employer to insist that men wear a jacket and tie and women wear nylons and a skirt? Why are some forms of discrimination unlawful and others not? Why is discrimination against short people, overweight people, or people with annoying personalities not against the law? We will answer these and many other questions by looking at court cases, legal theory, and philosophy. We may also have conversations with guest lecturers who work in civil rights enforcement, and the seminar may include a field trip to visit the offices of civil rights lawyers (lawyers tend to be busy people so these opportunities will depend on their schedules). Class participation and a short final paper are required, but there are no prerequisites other than an open mind and a willingness to delve into unfamiliar material.