Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

U.S. judge allows first transgender person to sue under disability law

katie lynn blatt

Kate Lynn Blatt: Forced to wear a name tag with a male name.

From Yahoo: (Reuters) – A U.S. judge ruled on Thursday that a transgender woman could move forward with a sex discrimination lawsuit against her employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act, even though it explicitly excludes transgender people from protection.

The plaintiff, Kate Lynn Blatt, becomes the first transgender person to be allowed to sue under the ADA for gender dysphoria, according to her Philadelphia-based lawyer, Neelima Vanguri.

But U.S. District Judge Joseph Leeson avoided ruling on the constitutionality of the ADA, as the plaintiffs had sought, under the legal principle that courts should avoid decisions on constitutional grounds if possible.

Being transgender is not considered a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, but it can give rise to gender dysphoria, a type of anxiety that may require medical treatment. Gender dysphoria forms Blatt’s basis for making a claim under the ADA.

Leeson, from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, found that simply being transgender would be insufficient to bring a case, but that gender dysphoria was a medical condition worthy of protection against discrimination.

He also said the law should be broadly construed to give people with disabilities recourse to pursue discrimination claims.

Blatt is suing her former employer, the retail chain Cabela’s Inc, for sex discrimination, saying she was fired after harassment that included denying her use of the women’s bathroom and temporarily forcing her to wear a name tag with her male name given at birth.

Blatt, 36, worked at the Cabela’s store in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, in 2006 and 2007. She was fired, she said, when Cabela’s alleged she threatened a co-worker’s child during an altercation at work, an accusation Blatt denies.

Cabela’s representatives did not respond to after-hours requests for comment. The company previously declined to comment because the litigation was pending.

The ADA was passed in 1990 as a landmark law protecting people with disabilities. But the lawsuit, filed in 2014, challenges a little-known clause in the act that “disability” shall not include “transsexualism.”

The lawsuit, which also cites protections in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against sex discrimination in employment, had asked the judge to rule that the ADA clause violates the U.S. Constitution because it denies equal protection under the law.

Vanguri said Leeson’s ruling will help others who want to bring claims under the ADA. “I’m hopeful we will be able to expand civil rights for transgender people just a little,” she said.

DCG

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Hillary Clinton says she’s ready to help Americans find common ground

From AP: Hillary Clinton said Friday she’s “ready to come out of the woods” and help Americans find common ground.

Clinton’s gradual return to the public spotlight following her presidential election loss continued with a St. Patrick’s Day speech in her late father’s Pennsylvania hometown of Scranton.

“I’m like a lot of my friends right now, I have a hard time watching the news,” Clinton told an Irish women’s group.

But she urged a divided country to work together to solve problems, recalling how, as first lady, she met with female leaders working to bring peace to Northern Ireland. “I do not believe that we can let political divides harden into personal divides. And we can’t just ignore, or turn a cold shoulder to someone because they disagree with us politically,” she said.

Friday night’s speech was one of several she is to deliver in the coming months, including a May 26 commencement address at her alma mater, Wellesley College in Massachusetts. The Democrat also is working on a book of personal essays that will include some reflections on her loss to Donald Trump.

Clinton, who was spotted taking a walk in the woods around her hometown of Chappaqua, New York, two days after losing the election to Donald Trump, quipped she had wanted to stay in the woods, “but you can only do so much of that.”

She told the Society of Irish Women that it’ll be up to citizens, not a deeply polarized Washington, to bridge the political divide.

“I am ready to come out of the woods and to help shine a light on what is already happening around kitchen tables, at dinners like this, to help draw strength that will enable everybody to keep going,” said Clinton.

Clinton was received warmly in Scranton, where her grandfather worked in a lace mill. Her father left Scranton for Chicago in search of work during the Great Depression, but returned often. Hillary Clinton spent summers at the family’s cottage on nearby Lake Winola.

She fondly recalled watching movies stretched across a bedsheet in a neighbor’s yard, and told of how the cottage had a toilet but no shower or tub. “Don’t tell anybody this, but we’d go down to the lake,” she said.

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Another taxpayer-funded energy company files for bankruptcy

Obama-laughs--300x199

Part of Obama’s legacy.

From Fox News: A cutting-edge battery maker that received millions from taxpayers has become the latest government-backed energy firm to file for bankruptcy – reviving the controversy over how stimulus dollars were spent under the last administration. 

Seven years after Aquion Energy received a $5.2 million stimulus-tied grant from the federal government, the Pennsylvania company on Wednesday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“Creating a new electrochemistry and an associated battery platform at commercial scale is extremely complex, time-consuming, and very capital intensive. Despite our best efforts to fund the company and continue to fuel our growth, the Company has been unable to raise the growth capital needed to continue operating as a going concern,” Scott Pearson, Aquion’s outgoing CEO, said in a press release.

The company, which is now seeking a buyer, produces batteries to store solar and renewable energy. It had been touted as a rising star in the energy storage business, even attracting investment from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and millions more in state funding.

In January, the company was named “the North American Company of the Year Award” at the annual Cleantech Forum in San Francisco, which “focuses on emerging trends, leading innovation companies, and key players in sustainable innovation.”

Suzanne Roski, the company’s chief restructuring officer, did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

Critics say Aquion’s fate is further evidence the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. “Who thinks the Department of Energy has the expertise to predict which companies will succeed for fail in the marketplace, particularly in an industry that is not only dependent upon government subsidies, but is highly unpredictable?” said William Yeatman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The company grew out of the work of Jay Whitacre, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He developed a successful design for a storage battery that would use only non-toxic, non-flammable chemicals, rather than the more flammable lithium batteries.

Days before the company filed for Chapter 11, Whitacre was named the new director of the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon.

Aquion was awarded its federal grant in 2010. The Department of Energy issued the funding to build a large-scale battery manufacturing plant that would be located on the site of a former Sony facility in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Private investors flocked to the project.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Aquion raised about $190 million from investors, including from Ray Lane, a former president of Oracle.  They began low-volume production in the summer of 2011, broke ground on full-scale manufacturing facility in 2012 and have been shipping commercially since mid-2014, according to its website.

Two years later, Aquion Energy received $16.6 million in funds from the state of Pennsylvania, including two alternative clean energy loans totaling $5 million, to develop.

As part of the agreement, Aquion committed to create 341 new jobs and retain 70 existing employees, according to Heidi Havens, communications director for Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

In February 2016, the company requested a two-year extension to create the jobs promised. At that time, only 50 jobs had been created. The Westmoreland facility has since halted operations.

“This announcement is a reminder of the critical need to ensure that taxpayer dollars for economic development projects are spent appropriately and that intended outcomes are met,” Havens said in an email to Fox News.

“Let’s remember that the need for energy storage systems is  strictly a consequence of the intermittency of renewable energy sources like solar and wind,” Yeatman said. “… These companies benefit from the grants and indirectly from the inefficiencies of an industry that exists by the grace of political favoritism.”

DCG

Illegal alien in Connecticut, a felon who was once deported, fatally stabs the mother of his child and then kidnaps daughter

oscar-hernandez-illegal

Illegal alien Oscar Hernandez

Keep defending those sanctuary locations, proggies.

From NY Post: The man suspected of taking a 6-year-old Connecticut girl prompting an Amber Alert on Friday had previously been deported, federal immigration officials said.

Oscar Hernandez was taken into custody on Friday following a high-speed car chase and crash on Interstate 99 in Benner Township, Pennsylvania. State police said he had refused to pull over when a state trooper spotted the car, which had been the subject of an Amber Alert.

Federal immigration officials said Hernandez is a citizen of El Salvador and had been previously deported on Nov. 27, 2013. He has prior felony convictions including assault and threatening. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had placed a detainer on him, an agency spokesman said in a statement.

Hernandez is accused of taking his 6-year-old daughter Aylin Sofia Hernandez from her home in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Police issued a public alert about the girl at about 2:45 a.m. Friday.

Officers had gone to the girl’s Bridgeport home and found her mother, Nadia Gonzalez, fatally stabbed. Another woman in the home also was stabbed multiple times and was hospitalized. Police said she’s expected to survive.

Police said the little girl suffered minor injuries in the crash. . Two state troopers also suffered minor injuries. Benner Township is about 300 miles from Bridgeport.

Hernandez was being held as a fugitive from justice in Pennsylvania and couldn’t be reached for comment. Bridgeport police have a warrant for his arrest.

DCG

Students at liberal arts college wear white puzzle piece pins to remind themselves of white privilege

white-puzzle-project

College Democrat Aileen Ida: Her struggle is real…

I’ll pass.

From Daily Mail: Students at a small liberal arts college in Central Pennsylvania are wearing white puzzle piece pins this month to raise awareness of white privilege and its impact on people of color.

The Elizabethtown College Democrats launched a project over the weekend called the ‘Personal Identity Campaign,’ which revolves around the question – ‘How does race affect my life, directly and indirectly.’

The organizers of the campaign, which officially kicked off on campus Saturday evening, say that wearing the white pin will serve as a reminder of the ‘struggles’ associated with racial identity.

Founded in 1899, Elizabethtown College has about 1,800 undergraduate students, of whom 86 per cent are white. The school’s 203-acre campus is stated in Lancaster County, where according to the latest US Census data from 2015, more than 90 per cent of the population is white.

Aileen Ida, president of the College Democrats who is spearheading the white pin campaign, tells Lancaster Online that the goal of the project is to get people to talk openly about race and white privilege.

According to Ida, who is Caucasian, all white people inherently benefit from white privilege, whether they like it or not, but few pause to think about the effect it has on their lives and the lives of minorities around them. Her organization is hoping to change that, one puzzle piece at a time.

‘People of color have to every day wake up and think about race,’ Ida told Local 21 CBS last week. ‘They have to think about how it affects their life, what they have to do for it to not negatively affect their life, and as a white person, we don’t usually have to think about that.’

Ida’s group tweeted on Tuesday that so far, 50 students, alumni and people in the community have made a pledge to wear the puzzle pins for one month.  Ida pointed out that the purpose of the pin project is not to malign white people because of the color of their skin, but rather to encourage everyone to reflect on racial identity.

According to the college Democrats’ official Facebook page, the campaign was inspired by Barb Girod, a white Lutheran pastor from Wisconsin, who made a commitment to wear a white puzzle piece pin every day for a year ‘to force herself to think about her white privilege and the impact white privilege has on people of color.’

Not everyone, however, appears to be on board with the project. Facebook user Paul Lewis slammed the campus activists as ‘crazy leftists’ and likened the pins to Nazi-era yellow ‘Jude’ stars. ‘I love being white and am proud of my Italian-American heritage…everyone should be proud of their race and embrace it,’ he wrote in a comment on the group’s page.

Another commenter pointed out that the group has chosen the puzzle piece a symbol of white privilege, even though puzzle pieces are most commonly identified with Autism awareness.

DCG

Aetna ditching 70% of its ObamaCare business

Obamacare: Going as planned.

tried to warn you

Via NY Post: Insurance giant Aetna won’t be offering coverage under ObamaCare next year in 11 of the 15 states it now serves — an announcement that instantly became an issue in the presidential race.

Aetna’s decision led Donald Trump to charge that President Obama’s health care reform was “imploding.” “Aetna’s decision to leave the Affordable Care Act’s public marketplaces is the latest blow to this broken law that is slowly imploding under its regulatory red tape,” said Trump campaign deputy national policy director Dan Kowalski.

Millions of Americans have lost their health coverage under this disastrous policy, eliminating their ability to choose their doctors. Thousands of businesses have been forced to cut employment or shutter their doors in response to Obama’s signature achievement,” he added.

The company had previously warned that it expected to lose more than $300 million this year on the 900,000 patients it covers under the Affordable Care Act. Aetna said it is pulling out of ObamaCare markets in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

Aetna does not currently offer the policies in New York. It does offer other medical insurance to individuals and small businesses as well as large employers in the state, officials said. It will continue to offer policies in Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska and Virginia.

ObamaCare is credited with expanding coverage to millions of previously uninsured or under-insured people.

O laughs

But insurers have complained they have lost money on the policies. United Health Group and Humana are other insurers exiting ObamaCare plans.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, in a statement, said there were not enough younger, healthier customers signing up to make ObamaCare policies sustainable. “The vast majority of payers have experienced continued financial stress within their individual public exchange business. Providing affordable, high-quality health care options to consumers is not possible without a balanced risk pool,” Bertolini said.

More than a dozen nonprofit insurance co-ops have shut down in the past couple years. The pullouts could spell trouble because competition is supposed to help control price increases.

Some states like Alaska and Oklahoma will be left with only one insurer selling ObamaCare plans to individuals in 2017. More densely populated states like New York say their ObamaCare markets remain strong.

But rates for customers are skyrocketing to maintain stability.

Obamacare Screw U

Citing increased medical costs, New York recently authorized insurers offering individual ObamaCare plans to increase premiums by an average 16.6 percent — the highest rate hike in the program’s four-year existence. New York’s small businesses will get hit with an average 8.3 percent rate hike.

DCG

Shocker, not: Hillary Clinton tells another lie to pander for votes

Would someone please notify this woman that the word “hunting” is not located in the Second Amendment. Thanks.

DCG