The New York Times ran an article today regarding how Muslim Americans are reporting religious discrimination  in the workplace.  I wrote an article during my internship in D.C. about a campaign called “Workplace Flexibility 2010” meant to combat this issue for all religions.

According to the New York Times article, Muslim employees made 803  claims regarding workplace discrimination in 2009– a record amount. This is a 20 percent increase from 2008 and 60 percent increase from 2005.

Claims ranged from being called names such as “Osama,” “terrorist” and  “Al Qaeda” to not being allowed to wear their headscarf at work to even having animal blood and bones thrown at them.

Yes, blood and bones. Really, Americans? Have you learned nothing about being a free and accepting people?

For those sorts of cases, The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed several lawsuits on behalf of Muslims.

Clothing retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch, is among the offenders.  They are being accused  of discrimination for refusing to hire an 18-year-old Muslim because she was wearing a head scarf. Apparently the manager made a note on the interview form that the girl did not have the “Abercrombie look.”

And get this. It’s not the first time Ambercrombie & Fitch have found themselves in a discrimination case. In 2004, Abercrombie agreed to pay $40 million to settle an E.E.O.C. lawsuit. The charge was regarding  racial bias against Asian, black and Hispanic employees. The employees said they had been steered to low-visibility, back-of-the-store jobs.

However, Abercrombie’s general counsel Ronald A. Robins Jr.  said the company disputed both claims. He said the retailer “makes every reasonable attempt to accommodate the religious practices of associates and applicants, including, when appropriate, allowing associates to wear a hijab.”

It’s stories like these that make me wish that people were doing something– anything to make a lasting change rather than just suing people in court. That’s why it’s a shame Th Work Flexibilty 2010  campaign was never mentioned in this kind of article. The campaign actually does help raise awareness, so it’s a shame it wasn’t mentioned. They even have this nifty “Work-Flex Even Starter Kit” for businesses to use. Check it out!

Poynter Institute published an interesting blog by Steve Myers today with some helpful tips on how to still be a reporter in this digital age. His blog was called “6 Lessons for Journalists & Consumers in Statue of Liberty Tornado Photo,” addressing the hypothetical scenario that a tornado whirled by the Statue of Liberty in New York City, causing hundreds of eye witnesses to post tweets, blogs, and photos all over cyber space.

The main question addressed: Are cyber areas such as Twitter valid places to gather sources for journalistic pieces?

Here are his six tips on what every journalist should keep in mind if they find themselves in that scenario:

1) When presented with the incredible, apply some skepticism.

2) If we don’t apply a critical eye, our readers will.

3) Check your source.

4) In 140 characters, it’s hard to read between the lines.

5) Pack journalism isn’t the same as verification.

6) If you try to make something go viral, try just as hard to follow up with the cure.

All of these are great tips, and if you read his blog, they’re coupled with even more shocking stories about how top notch journalists and highly-regarded news sources all have been led astray by overly trusting what was once social media.

Remember, kids. Just because it’s online, doesn’t make it true. You would think journalists would already know that, but apparently it’s something we have to learn everyday.

 

Laser pointers damage eyes

Posted: September 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

So they may seem fun at first, but your mother was right. Laser pointers can actually hurt your eyes- permanently.

According to The New York Times, citing The New England Journal of Medicine, a 15-year-old boy suffered “lasting visual impairment” after playing with his laser pointer in front of the mirror.

The article cites Dr. Martin K. Schmid, who wrote that laser pointers sold to the general public used to only have a maximum power level of five milliwatts. These were considered “relatively safe.”

However, the laser pointer in the case of the minor had a power output of 150 milliwatts.

Talk about a huge difference.

Dr. Schmid said consumers can prevent incidences like this from happening to themselves or their own children by buying only legal laser, avoiding some that may be sold online. The safest laser is a Class 1, which only outputs one milliwat.

Regardless of the level of your laser, definitely do not point it at anyone’s eyes or in the mirror.

Health Care changes Sept. 23

Posted: September 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Washington Post published an interesting update on what’s going down with the new health care reform on Tuesday.

Its been six month since the reform was passed. Apparently that means a lot changes on Sept. 23. The elimination of lifetime caps on benefits is one of the several provisions that go into place, a real blessing for families who daily deal with severe medical problems that won’t go away.

More to look forward to this fall?

Well if you’re a young person without a real job approaching that dreaded cut-off age of health insurance, fear no more! As long as you don’t have a job that offers legitimate health care benefits, you can stay on your parents plan until you reach age 26. And get this, plans can’t charge more for adult children than for dependents under the age of 19. The only loop hole you may face is the fact that insurers can increase the cost of your family’s overall plan.

Also, discriminating against minors with preexisting conditions is no longer okay. However, if you’re over the age of 19 with the above deal of being on your parents’ plan until 26, you can be refused. Oh well, you can’t have everything, now can you? But a similar ban on coverage exclusions go into play in 2014.

Another provision says that employer plans can not impose annual coverage limits of less than $750,000 for essential health benefits. THis includes hospital services, prescriptions, emergency services and maternity and newborn care. The maximum limits do increase every year, bu they will be eliminated in 2014.

Want to know what else is coming in regards to Health Care Reform? Check it out for yourself– straight from the government.