How to Fight Discrimination in AI


Executive Summary

Ensuring that your AI algorithm doesn’t unintentionally discriminate against particular groups is a complex undertaking. What makes it so difficult in practice is that it is often extremely challenging to truly remove all proxies for protected classes. Determining what constitutes unintentional discrimination at a statistical level is also far from straightforward. So what should companies do to steer clear of employing discriminatory algorithms? They can start by looking to a host of legal and statistical precedents for measuring and ensuring algorithmic fairness.

Juan Moyano/Stocksy

Is your artificial intelligence fair?

Thanks to the increasing adoption of AI, this has become a question that data scientists and legal personnel now routinely confront. Despite the significant resources companies have spent on responsible AI efforts in recent years, organizations still struggle with the day-to-day task of understanding how to operationalize fairness in AI.

So what should companies do to steer clear of employing discriminatory algorithms? They can start by looking to a host of legal and statistical precedents for measuring and ensuring algorithmic fairness. In particular, existing legal standards that derive from U.S. laws such as the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act and guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can help to mitigate many of the discriminatory challenges posed by AI.

At a high level, these standards are based on the distinction between intentional and unintentional discrimination, sometimes referred to as disparate treatment and disparate impact, respectively. Intentional discrimination is subject to the highest legal penalties and is something that all organizations adopting AI should obviously avoid. The best way to do so is by ensuring the AI is not exposed to inputs that can directly indicate protected class such as race or gender.

Avoiding unintentional discrimination, or disparate impact, however, is an altogether more complex undertaking. It occurs when a seemingly neutral variable (like the level of home ownership) acts as a proxy for a protected variable (like race). What makes avoiding disparate impact so difficult in practice is that it is often extremely challenging to truly remove all proxies for protected classes. In a society shaped by profound systemic inequities such as that of the United States, disparities can be so deeply embedded that it oftentimes requires painstaking work to fully separate what variables (if any) operate independently from protected attributes.

Indeed, because values like fairness are subjective in many ways — there are, for example, nearly two dozen conceptions of fairness, some of which are mutually exclusive — it’s sometimes not even clear what the most fair decision really is. In one study by Google AI researchers, the seemingly beneficial approach of giving disadvantaged groups easier access to loans had the unintended effect of reducing these groups’ credit scores overall. Easier access to loans actually increased the number of defaults within that group, thereby lowering their collective scores over time.

Determining what constitutes disparate impact at a statistical level is also far from straightforward. Historically, statisticians and regulators have used a variety of methods to detect its occurrence under existing legal standards. Statisticians have, for example, used a group fairness metric called the “80 percent rule” (it’s also known as the “adverse impact ratio”) as one central indicator of disparate impact. Originating in the employment context in the 1970s, the ratio consists of dividing the proportion of the selected group in the disadvantaged class by the proportion of selected members of the advantaged group. A ratio below 80% is generally considered to be evidence of discrimination. Other metrics, such as standardized mean difference or marginal effects analysis, have been used to detect unfair outcomes in AI as well.

All of which means that, in practice, when data scientists and lawyers are asked to ensure their AI is fair, they’re also being asked to select what “fairness” should mean in the context of each specific use case and how it should be measured. This can be an incredibly complex process, as a growing number of researchers in the machine learning community have noted in recent years.

Despite all these complexities, however, existing legal standards can provide a good baseline for organizations seeking to combat unfairness in their AI. These standards recognize the impracticality of a one-size-fits-all approach to measuring unfair outcomes. As a result, the question these standards ask is not simply “is disparate impact occurring?”. Instead, existing standards mandate what amounts to two essential requirements for regulated companies.

First, regulated companies must clearly document all the ways they’ve attempted to minimize — and therefore to measure — disparate impact in their models. They must, in other words, carefully monitor and document all their attempts to reduce algorithmic unfairness.

Second, regulated organizations must also generate clear, good faith justifications for using the models they eventually deploy. If fairer methods existed that would have also met these same objectives, liability can ensue.

Companies using AI can and should learn from many of these same processes and best practices to both identify and minimize cases when their AI is generating unfair outcomes. Clear standards for fairness testing that incorporate these two essential elements, along with clear documentation guidelines for how and when such testing should take place, will go a long way towards ensuring fairer and more-carefully-monitored outcomes for companies deploying AI. Companies can also draw from public guidance offered by experts such as BLDS’s Nicholas Schmidt and Bryce Stephens.

Are these existing legal standards perfect? Far from it. There is significant room for improvement, as regulators have in fact noted in recent months. (A notable exception is the Trump administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is currently attempting to roll back some of these standards.) Indeed, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has indicated an increasing focus on fairness in AI in recent months, with one of its five commissioners publicly stating that it should expand its oversight of discriminatory AI.

New laws and guidance targeting fairness in AI, in other words, are clearly coming. If shaped correctly, they will be a welcome development when they arrive.

But until they come, it’s critical that companies build off of existing best practices to combat unfairness in their AI. If deployed thoughtfully, the technology can be a powerful force for good. But if used without care, it is all too easy for AI to entrench existing disparities and discriminate against already-disadvantaged groups. This is an outcome that both businesses and society at large cannot afford.



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Elderly patients and carers say age discrimination in NSW hospitals is real and heartbreaking


Posted

August 16, 2020 09:02:55

An ABC crowd-sourced investigation has revealed strong concerns about the treatment of the elderly in hospitals in regional New South Wales.

Key points:

  • Research shows healthcare professionals generally have negative attitudes about ageing
  • Elderly patients and carers told the ABC they felt discriminated in NSW hospitals due to their age
  • Queensland Health is running a trial to ‘score’ elderly patients to establish just how frail they are

Former NSW Health patients and carers have told the ABC they felt they were discriminated against by healthcare workers in under-resourced hospitals.

Those concerns are supported by the research of a leading ageing expert who is calling for extra training to address widespread negative perceptions of older patients in the healthcare system.

Too old to treat?

Seventy-eight-year-old Delma Stone from Bundarra, in northern NSW, said she suffered extreme pain for six weeks with a broken shoulder before a decision was taken to repair the break.

She said doctors gave her the impression her injury did not warrant hospital resources when she was treated at Armidale Rural Referral Hospital last year.

But a scan eventually revealed she needed surgery.

A spokesperson for Hunter New England Health said it was normal to treat mild fractures conservatively in the first instance, before resorting to more invasive care, such as surgery.

But Ms Stone said she felt as though her initial concerns were dismissed.

“My impression was that I was too old to treat because I didn’t have much longer to go,” Ms Stone said.

“I felt they wanted to get rid of me so they could get somebody else in.

“The pain was so bad I couldn’t sleep.”

Healthcare professionals ‘generally ageist’

Sydney University psychology lecturer Neil Jeyasingam said his research looked into the prevalence of negative attitudes towards elderly patients among health workers.

He said the level of bias against older patients was “extremely worrying”.

Dr Jeyasingam recently analysed more than 4,000 peer-reviewed studies on ageism in health care.

He also surveyed more than 800 individuals working in the field about their attitudes towards ageing and older people.

“The worst perspectives on ageing I found were amongst doctors, while nurses tended to have middle to negative attitudes toward older people,” Dr Jeyasingam said.

“It is extremely worrying.”

Dr Jeyasingam’s findings mirrored his peers’ work.

“All the studies show the same thing — healthcare professionals are generally ageist, and they’re becoming progressively more ageist as time goes on,” he said.

Geriatric medicine ‘low prestige’ but

Dr Jeyasingam said reasons for widespread negative attitudes included death anxiety, a general disinterest in the ageing process and a lack of training and enthusiasm for geriatric medicine.

These biases, he said, affected how healthcare workers interacted with their patients.

“We know biased healthcare workers are more likely to offer fewer treatment options to older patients,” he said.

“I’ve personally seen cases where older people were denied consultations and opportunities to have their care reviewed simply because they were older, and this certainly resulted in worse patient outcomes.”

Rural Doctors Association president, John Hall, said he believed many rural clinicians were well equipped to handle the needs of elderly patients.

But the reality was hospital staff had to prioritise their resources.

“I think there is systemic ageism in health care but I’ve worked in 30 to 40 rural hospitals across Australia and I’ve never witnessed an instance where someone’s care wasn’t attended to because they were deemed less important because they were elderly,” Dr Hall said.

“Often we have to explain to patients that we triage those who need treatment first.

“Patients can still feel marginalised and like they aren’t being prioritised, but the reason is to do with bandwidth — and not their age, status, race or other characteristics.”

A spokesperson for NSW Health said it does offer training courses to ensure clinicians understand the importance of providing appropriate and compassionate care for older people.

They said NSW Health was developing education programs for staff on dementia care, caring for older people and person and family-centred care.

Dr Jeyasingam agreed more training was the answer.

“Geriatrics is seen as a low-prestige field of medicine, and we know medical students don’t see caring for older patients as a primary reason to enter into medicine,” he said.

“More education is needed … we know attitudes toward ageing improve when students have greater exposure to older people.”

Understanding frailty better

University of Queensland Professor of geriatric medicine, Ruth Hubbard, said throughout her career she had observed older people missing out on quality care in hospital.

She noticed doctors, overall, did not understand the concept of frailty well.

So she devised a solution: a way to measure it.

“Frailty is about understanding the health status of older patients … it’s separate to an individual’s age,” Dr Hubbard said.

“A person can be old in age but robust and fighting fit.

“Similarly, a person with a lower chronological age may be very weak and suffer from multiple diseases.”

Dr Hubbard devised a scheme whereby patients over the age of 75 were assessed and given a score of one to nine as they were admitted to hospital.

“Patients with a score of one will be highly independent, while patients with a score of nine will be terminally ill,” she said.

The scoring system is being trialled in a number of hospitals in Queensland.

“This trial has really helped specialists take a more nuanced approach to care and to help them predict whether their patients would benefit from medical interventions or a more holistic care approach,” Dr Hubbard said.

She said she did not believe healthcare professionals deliberately stereotyped their older patients, but rather that they lacked tools to help them understand their patients’ complex needs.

“No doctor wants to harm a patient, but we can take the time to learn and understand more about the health status of each individual and adjust their interventions as appropriate,” she said.

“While one person may be too frail to benefit from bypass surgery, they may stand to gain extra quality of life from a cataract operation.”

‘Wrote her off like an old car’

One of the key issues raised in ABC Regional’s crowd-sourced investigation was end-of-life care and the way healthcare workers engaged with elderly patients and their families.

Jane Turner felt her mother, Joan Steele, was a victim of age discrimination.

Ms Steele died in Wyong Hospital on the NSW Central Coast last September, aged 93.

Medical staff at the hospital made decisions about Ms Steele’s resuscitation plan without consulting her daughter and power of attorney, Ms Turner.

Ms Steele was marked “not for resuscitation”, but her plan was not formally signed by a senior medical officer.

NSW Health’s policy states a medical practitioner does not need to obtain agreement from the patient or family to withhold interventions considered to be of negligible benefit, but it is still good clinical practice to discuss why these are not being offered in the context of broader end of life goals of care conversation.

Ms Steele died in the early hours of September 10.

No rapid response ensued.

“It just feels like the doctor wrote her off like an old car,” Ms Turner said.

“They didn’t even take the time to fill out the form properly.

“I feel the lack of consultation about her end-of-life care was a blatant disregard of her rights, and I don’t believe it would have happened to a younger patient and their family.”

Communication matters

Dr Jeyasingam said ageist attitudes could affect the way clinicians communicated with their patients.

He said biases could explain why some doctors talked to their patients in a patronising manner and avoided difficult conversations.

“If your doctor doesn’t think much of ageing and has a negative attitude to how people grow older, they are less likely to bring up the potential negative consequences of treatment, and this does impact on patient care and experience,” Dr Jeyasingam said.

Ms Turner said Wyong Hospital staff failed to communicate with her about key aspects of her mother’s hospital care.

After lodging a case with the Health Care Complaints Commission in July, she recently received a reply from the watchdog conceding the hospital failed to communicate clearly.

The statement from the HCCC’s complaints manager read:

“Throughout Mrs Steele’s admission there appears to be a lack of communication and transparency at various junctures in her care and after her death.

“In light of the above considerations we will make comments to Wyong Hospital reminding them that no matter the circumstances in which a patient passes away, family have the right to know and understand what occurred in their treatment.”

In the response, the Hunter New England Local Health District (LHD) apologised that Ms Steele’s resuscitation plan was formulated without consulting Ms Turner.

The LHD also acknowledged it was not appropriate Ms Turner was not told that hospital staff prescribed her mother with the antipsychotic drug Olanzapine to manage her delirium.

Ms Turner hoped no family had to endure a similar situation.

“I still think mum was seen as an inconvenience while she was in hospital, which is sad because she was never an inconvenience to anyone,” she said.

Time for change

Council on the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates said he would like to see stronger age-discrimination laws to protect elderly patients.

He has spotlighted the problem of ageism for more than a decade.

“We need to look at age discrimination the same way we’ve looked at gender discrimination,” Mr Yates said.

He said more training was needed in hospital settings to ensure elders were not treated differently to younger patients.

“Just as culturally and linguistically diverse people come to us in the health system, we need to understand that in regards to ageing, too,” Mr Yates said.

Tell us your story

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has renewed focus on the many challenges in regional health care across Australia.

We are aware that regional people have, for years, experienced issues with funding, governance, and access to specialists and timely care.

We know staff in regional health services are often trying to do the best they can in difficult circumstances and that poor care and systemic failures can occur for a host of reasons.

However, the “postcode health gap” is one of the reasons that people in the regions have worse health outcomes overall.

We need your help to build a better picture of what is happening in our regional health services, and why, so issues can be highlighted and addressed.

We are keen to hear from staff, patients or carers who have a story to tell.

Your identity will be treated as strictly confidential by the ABC, unless otherwise agreed with you, and any sensitive information you provide to us will not be published without your express permission.

For details about how the information we collect during crowdsourced investigations is handled, see the ABC Crowdsourcing Collection Statement.

Tap to share your story.

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Pinterest workers stage protest after discrimination allegations


Pinterest delayed the planned announcement of a new board member Friday amid a virtual walkout by employees demanding change after claims of discrimination by management.

More than 350 of Pinterest’s 2,400 employees signed onto a protest and virtual job action. Because they’re already working from home, instead of walking out of offices, they signed off the company’s computer system, borrowing a protest strategy from Facebook’s employees. Pinterest didn’t want its board announcement to compete with attention on the employee protest, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“We want systemic change so that we can remain proud of where we work,” the employees wrote anonymously in a petition asking for transparency on pay and on promotion and retention of minority workers.

Earlier this week, former Chief Operating Officer Francoise Brougher said in a lawsuit that she was fired after speaking up about gender discrimination by the photo-sharing website’s male-run leadership team. Her complaint escalated criticism of the management, publicly and internally. Pinterest had already responded to the allegations of two employees on its policy team who alleged racial and gender discrimination. When those claims went public earlier this year, Chief Executive Officer Ben Silbermann called parts of the company’s culture “broken.”

Pinterest told employees it won’t retaliate against them for Friday’s protest.

“Pinterest won’t dissuade any member of our community from showing their support for improving inclusion & diversity in our company, or within the broader industry,” the head of human resources, Jo Dennis, said Thursday in a message to all employees that was viewed by Bloomberg. “At our Q&A tomorrow we will continue our conversation from yesterday, and we are excited to let you know Ben will be introducing you to our newest board member.”

The San Francisco-based company declined to comment on the planned board announcement, but has previously said it aims to add more diversity to its leadership team. Currently the board is made up of six men and two women.

“We respect and hear the employees who want to see a clear commitment to action, and we will ensure an open dialogue that leads to progress to make Pinterest the place we all know it can be,” the company said Thursday in a statement.

More must-read tech coverage from Fortune:



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Karens of Australia fear name has evolved from light-hearted jab to form of discrimination


While Karens around Australia can sometimes see the funny side of their name’s use in popular culture, they are worried by the moniker’s increasingly negative connotations.

It’s a view shared by one of the country’s top linguistics experts, who believes the term has evolved to become derogatory and offensive.

Karen was thrust back into the spotlight at the weekend amid the response to a viral video filmed by a woman who confronted Bunnings staff who had asked her to wear a mask in one of the hardware chain’s Melbourne stores.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

‘Bunnings Karen’ condemned online for refusing to wear mask

Roly Sussex, emeritus professor of applied language studies at the University of Queensland, said Karen had been a common term in the United States for more than a decade.

Some say it originated with the “Oh my God, Karen, you can’t ask someone why they’re white” internet meme from the 2004 movie Mean Girls.

Others say it came from a meme in 2014 that depicted a woman’s blonde-streaked haircut with the caption: “Can I speak to the manager?”

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Nowadays, the term is commonly used to describe women who supposedly complain a lot, those considered to have a sense of entitlement, or commit public acts perceived as racist, such as unjustly calling the police on black people.

Professor Sussex said the use of Karen had evolved to be sexist, ageist and racist.

“It has become a way of pigeonholing certain sorts of behaviour — and the behaviour itself is not admirable — but on the other hand if you are already called Karen, why should you have to bear the weight of accumulated public disapproval?”

A picture of a woman with with an odd haircut, with the caption: 'This is Karen. She'd like to speak to the manager.'
Karen memes first appeared as light-hearted content on social media.(Supplied)

Real Karens and fake Karens

For Karen Andrews, the federal member for the Gold Coast-based seat of McPherson, Karen memes have been a source of amusement, however she said she was uneasy with the newer pejorative usage.

“We do laugh about it, and even at home if I’m not happy about it, my kids will say, ‘Uh, oh, Karen is going to call the manager’,” she said.

Karen Andrews speaks to the media with a pink banner behind her
Karen Andrews says there are two types of ‘Karen’ in Australia.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

“A real Karen would have been wanting to see the manager at Bunnings and say, ‘No-one should be allowed in here if they are not wearing a mask’.

“But then there is the fake Karen who doesn’t want to play by the rules.

“The fake Karen is just appalling, not acceptable, and they should not be able to hide behind something that is pretty light-hearted and pretty much fun.”

What’s an Aussie alternative?

Karen Bishop from Mackay said she took no offence from the memes but believed Sharon would be a better fit for the stereotype in Australia.

A woman wearing red glasses poses with a blonde girl wearing a medal.
Mackay dance teacher Karen Bishop and student Aria Maddison-Stanton.(ABC Tropical North: Melissa Maddison)

“You have got to remember that it did start in America,” she said.

“It’s the photos that make me laugh the most, the haircut, because I actually had the haircut for a long time.”

What other Karens think

“It doesn’t feel great when you see your own name only ever used in a negative context now. I know the origins of the Karen meme was a pretty powerful challenge to racism, so I try not to take it personally.” — Karen Pickering, Wollongong

“The name Karen is supposed to mean versatile, humanitarian, protective … all these beautiful combinations, but I’ve never felt that. There were times [when I was younger] I wanted to change my name to Charlotte.” — Karen Phillips, Gold Coast

“I am 80 next week and I’m very, very happy that my mother gave me the name Karen. I’ve never had any trouble. My mother gave me Karen Mae, after Mae West.” — Karen Lafferty, Ingham

“I find the whole Karen thing quite upsetting. I go out of my way not to be a jerk and make sure it’s no harder for anyone to get from one end of the day to the other than it already is.” — Karen Hunkin, Canberra

“I think it’s funny, I love it. Where’s the Aussie spirit? Everyone used to take the micky out of everyone. It’s gone so politically correct, no-one is game enough to have fun anymore.” — Karen Moodie, Gold Coast

Are Karens an endangered species?

Karen dominated Australian lists of popular baby names in the early 1960s but has progressively slipped from favour.

There are fears the name could all but disappear because of its contemporary connotations.

“The term Karen is American and we imitate the Americans an awful lot.

“I am afraid that because of that, it would take someone almost super-human to nullify that negative overtone.”



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Incarceration and police discrimination may worsen health of Black sexual minority men



Incarceration and police discrimination may contribute to HIV, depression and anxiety among Black gay, bisexual and other sexual minority men, according to a Rutgers led study.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, examined associations between incarceration, police and law enforcement discrimination and recent arrest with Black sexual minority mens’ psychological distress, risk for HIV and willingness to take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.

Evidence suggests Black sexual minority men in the United States may face some of the highest rates of policing and incarceration in the world. Despite this, research examining the health impacts of the U.S. carceral system rarely focuses on their experiences. This study helps to address this gap.


We examined how incarceration and police discrimination, which have roots in enforcing White supremacy and societal heterosexism, are associated with some of the most pressing health crises among Black sexual minority men like depression, anxiety, and HIV.”


Devin English, Lead Author, Assistant Professor, Rutgers School of Public Health

The researchers surveyed 1,172 Black, gay, bisexual, and other sexual minority men over the age of 16 from across the U.S. who reported behaviors that increased their risk for HIV over the previous six months. Participants reported on their incarceration history, experiences of police and law enforcement discrimination, anxiety and depression, sexual behavior, and willingness to take PrEP.

They found that 43 percent of study participants reported police discrimination within the previous year, which was most frequent among those with a history of incarceration. Respondents who faced high levels of police discrimination within the previous year also tended to show high levels of psychological distress and HIV risk, and a low willingness to take PrEP compared with their peers. The study also found that respondents who were previously incarcerated or recently arrested had a heightened HIV risk and lower willingness to take PrEP.

“These findings transcend individual-level only explanations to offer structural-level insights about how we think about Black sexual minority men’s HIV risk,” says co-author Lisa Bowleg, professor of psychology at The George Washington University. “The study rightly directs attention to the structural intersectional discrimination that negatively affects Black sexual minority men’s health.”

The article states that the findings support the need for anti-racist and anti-heterosexist advocacy and interventions focused on reducing discrimination in U.S. society, and the carceral system specifically.

“Despite experiencing a disproportionate burden of violence and discrimination at the hands of the police, and extremely high carceral rates, Black queer men are largely invisible in discourse on anti-Black policing and incarceration,” says co-author Joseph Carter, doctoral student of health psychology at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. “Our study provides empirical support for the intersectional health impacts of police and carceral discrimination that have been systemically perpetrated onto Black queer men.”





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Dylan Alcott accuses US Open organisers of discrimination after wheelchair tennis is dropped for the 2020 event


Substantial-profile Paralympian and wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott has slated officers for having his competitions off the agenda for this year’s US Open up tournament.

The tournament, which will be performed from August 31 to September 13, will go in advance less than limits thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US Tennis Affiliation took the choice to maintain no blended doubles, juniors or wheelchair competitions at the US Open up.

Alcott, who has dominated wheelchair tennis in current decades, shared his frustration at the choice on Twitter.

“Just acquired announced that the US Open up will go ahead Devoid of wheelchair tennis… Players were not consulted,” he posted.

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Alcott then tweeted he was fitter and much healthier than approximately anyone reading his tweets.

“Remember to do not convey to me I am a ‘greater risk’ due to the fact I am disabled,” he wrote.

“I am disabled yes but that does not make me Unwell.”

Alcott went on to article that even though there ended up much far more critical difficulties in the globe, the alternative on no matter whether to compete need to have been up to him.

“It is blatant discrimination for in a position-bodied men and women to come to a decision on my behalf what I do with my Life AND Occupation just mainly because I am disabled. Not excellent more than enough,” he reported.

The 29-year-aged has 16 grand slam titles, profitable the quad singles occasion at six Australian Opens, two US Opens, as soon as at the French Open and at the time at Wimbledon.

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Alcott has six doubles titles, including 3 Australian Opens.

He also gained two gold medals at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in 2016.

His accomplishment arrived immediately after a occupation in wheelchair basketball, in which he played with Australia’s Gliders at two Paralympic Games, profitable gold in Beijing in 2008 and silver in London four many years later on.

Alcott has been outspoken as a disability advocate, criticising the Federal Governing administration last 12 months for its underspend on the National Incapacity Insurance coverage Scheme (NDIS).

He founded the Dylan Alcott Foundation, “with the core reason of supporting younger Australians with disabilities gain self-esteem and regard by way of activity and study” and was appointed Australia’s patron for Global Working day of Men and women with Incapacity.

The US Open up will not have crowds at Flushing Meadows this yr — or blended doubles, junior and wheelchair tennis gatherings.(Reuters/Motion Images: Jason O’Brien)

The USTA confirmed before this week the tournament would go in advance at the popular Flushing Meadows location as planned, but with a collection of limits.

“Initially and foremost, our final decision-building has been guided by the overall health and wellbeing of all who will choose element in the 2020 US Open up,” USTA president Patrick Galbraith said in a statement.

“Following educating ourselves by way of consultations with authorities, and following in the vicinity of spherical-the-clock preparing for three months, we are self-assured that we have a program that is secure, feasible and the correct matter to do for our sport.”

All occasions were to be modified “in light of the international pandemic”, with the said target of restricting the quantity of individuals on web-site at Flushing Meadows at a single time.

This included banning enthusiasts, restricting players’ entourages, and broadcasters, and cutting back on the number of activities.



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In landmark ruling, US Supreme Court bars discrimination against LGBT workers


The US Supreme Court delivered a landmark victory for the gay and transgender communities on Monday when it ruled that employers cannot discriminate against workers because of their sexual orientation.

In a blow to the administration of President Donald Trump, the court ruled by six votes to three that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination against employees because of a person’s sex, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status.

“Today we must decide whether someone can be fired simply for being homosexual or transgender,” the court said. “The answer is clear.”

“This is a huge victory for LGBTQ equality,” said James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBTQ & HIV Project.

The group uses the longer version of the acronym, in which the Q stands for “questioning” – as in still exploring one’s sexuality – or “queer.”

“The court has caught up to the majority of our country, which already knows that discriminating against LGBTQ people is both unfair and against the law,” he said in a statement.

The decision was hailed by Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, as “a momentous step forward for our country.”

“Before today, in more than half of states, LGBTQ+ people could get married one day and be fired from their job the next day under state law, simply because of who they are or who they love,” said Biden, who was vice president when the court made its historic ruling in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015.

“There is no question: LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination in the workplace,” the union said in a tweet, using an acronym for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people.

Mr Bostock was fired from his long-held job in the state of Georgia as a child welfare services co-ordinator after he joined a gay sports club.

But rights activists had feared that the appointment by Mr Trump of two new conservative judges to the top court could hinder further wins for their cause.

Yet it was one of them, Neil Gorsuch, who wrote the majority decision, joining with the court’s four progressive-leaning judges and Chief Justice John Roberts.

“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,” Mr Gorsuch wrote.

“Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result,” Gorsuch said.

“But the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands.”

‘Fired for coming out’

The ruling was a blow for the Trump administration, which had effectively thrown in its lot with employers.

“Sex refers to whether you were born woman or man, not your sexual orientation or gender identity,” argued Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing the government’s position before the court. He said it was the job of Congress to update the law, not the justice system.

That position was echoed by Brett Kavanaugh, the other conservative judge appointed by Mr Trump.

Despite his opposition, Mr Kavanaugh wrote in his own separate dissent that the decision still represented an “important victory achieved today by gay and lesbian Americans.”

A file photo of supporters of LGBT rights staging a protest on the street in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington.

AAP

Donna Stephens, the wife of transgender plaintiff Aimee Stephens who died last month, hailed her late partner’s struggle for justice after being sacked by a Detroit funeral parlor when she came out.

“For the last seven years of Aimee’s life, she rose as a leader who fought against discrimination against transgender people, starting when she was fired for coming out as a woman, despite her recent promotion at the time.

“I am grateful for this victory to honor the legacy of Aimee, and to ensure people are treated fairly regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said in a statement after the court pronounced its ruling.

The decision was hailed by many Democratic leaders, including Pete Buttigieg, the former Army officer and mayor who became the first openly gay person to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“It was only 11 years ago this summer that I took an oath and accepted a job that I would have lost, if my chain of command learned that I was gay. Firing us wasn’t just permitted – it was policy,” he said.

Pop superstar Taylor Swift also lauded the decision, tweeting, “We still have a long way to go to reach equality, but this is a beautiful step forward.”





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What the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on LGBTQ job discrimination means for transgender health protections


A sweeping 6-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rules that LGBTQ Americans are protected from job discrimination under existing law. The ruling’s ripple effects could extend to the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back health care protections for transgender Americans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare.

On Friday, just three days before the high court’s landmark decision, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized a rule that would undo the Obama administration’s 2016 decision to expand the ACA’s anti-discrimination provisions to health care services for trans people.

That 2016 rule leveraged section 1557 of the ACA, which bars certain health plans and activities from discriminating against people on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability” in accordance with existing civil rights law. Those laws include Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title XI of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, among others.

The Obama administration regulations expanded the scope of sex-based discrimination to include refusing to provide abortion services or medical services for transgender individuals.

But the HHS’s revised regulation takes a very different approach. “HHS will enforce Section 1557 by returning to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology,” it reads. In short: Many more health plans would be able to discriminate against someone on the basis of gender identity were the administration’s rule to take effect.

That’s where the Supreme Court’s anti-job discrimination decision could play a critical role. In a concise majority opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Court explicitly says that discriminating against an employee on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity intrinsically amounts to discriminating against them on the basis of sex, which is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex,” writes Gorsuch.

That blunt assessment could make it difficult for the Trump administration to effectively argue that redefining sex discrimination to what it considers “the plain meaning of the word sex” passes muster.

HHS has not responded to a Fortune request for comment on how the ruling may affect Obamacare’s transgender health protections. But there are arguments the agency could still make—including that health care and employment are different issues, and that HHS has the authority to interpret what the ACA’s various provisions mean. Obamacare’s anti-discrimination clauses rely on Title IX, which is related to Title VII, but not quite the same thing.

The issue may be complicated even more by a religious liberty argument—one that’s already been deployed. In 2019, a federal judge ruled against the Obama administration’s original rule expanding transgender health care rights, arguing that it infringed on health care providers’ religious freedoms by forcing them to provide transgender or abortion-related medical services.

Still, the bluntness of Monday’s Supreme Court decision could make HHS’ arguments an uphill climb.

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Supreme Court rules LGBTQ workers protected under federal job discrimination laws


A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal law protects gay and transgender workers from job discrimination in a pair of decisions that give millions of LGBT people new civil rights.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in a 6-3 majority, interpreting the longstanding federal ban on sex discrimination in the workplace to cover bias on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The decisions could have a broad practical impact. More than half the U.S. states don’t cover sexual orientation and gender identity through their own anti-discrimination laws. More than half the nation’s 8 million LGBT workers live in those states, according to the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute.

The victory for LGBT rights comes even after the Supreme Court shifted to the right with two appointments by President Donald Trump.

The cases tackled a central irony in the fight over LGBT rights. Even though the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, LGBT people still could have been fired from their jobs in much of the country.

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WA Attorney General slams state’s ‘systemic discrimination’ ahead of more Black Lives Matter rallies


Western Australia’s Attorney General says there is “systematic discrimination” against Indigenous people in the state’s justice system.

John Quigley made the comments to SBS News as thousands prepare to march in a Black Lives Matter rally in Perth on Saturday.

“An Indigenous person, for example, is far more likely to be stopped and questioned by the police than a non-Indigenous person. An Indigenous person who is charged by the police is far more likely to be arrested,” he said.

“An Indigenous person is far less likely to get bail because they don’t have the advocates in court, or because they don’t have a fixed address or employment.

“So if you measure it by outcome, you would have to say there is systemic discrimination in the system.”

WA Attorney-General John Quigley says ‘systemic discrimination’ exists in the state’s justice system.

AAP

Nationwide, the imprisonment rate of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people is 2.6 per cent, but that number soars to 4.1 per cent in Western Australia.

“I stood before the Australian Bar Association two years ago and said it’s a national disgrace. We’re incarcerating Aboriginal people at a rate 70 per cent higher than the national average, and 30 per cent higher than the Northern Territory.” 

Mr Quigley said the Indigenous imprisonment rate has slowed in recent years but admits the number of Aboriginal adults going to jail in WA is still increasing. 

“I accept that responsibility and have been working with the various departments and the Aboriginal Legal Service to turn that around,” he said. 

The number of young Aboriginal people in detention is also decreasing. 

A Black Lives Matter rally is planned for Perth this Saturday.

Thousands are expected to attend this weekend’s rally in Perth.

Aaron Fernandes, SBS News

The WA Government introduced a Custody Notification Service in 2019 and has introduced a bill to parliament to make imprisonment for unpaid fines a last resort.

Twenty-two-year-old Yamatji woman Ms Dhu died in custody in the state in 2014, while serving time for unpaid fines.

Mr Quigley says further legislative reforms are planned, including changes to WA’s Mentally Impaired Accused Act and expanding support for bail applications.

“A lot of [Indigenous prisoners] would be eligible for bail if they had the proper representation in the courts, so we’ve got teams of people going into the prisons to specifically identify those people,” he says.

“I’m doing my best to address it, and I’m doing it by each piece of legislation.”

For frontline Aboriginal community workers, change through the parliament can’t come soon enough.

“I was once in the prison system myself, I know the prison system from the inside as well as the outside. And it seems like things are getting worse for our people,” said Mervyn Eades, founder and CEO of Aboriginal employment access organisation Ngalla Maya. 

Frontline community workers say urgent reforms and investment are needed.

Mervyn Eades, Gerry Georgatos and Megan Krakouer.

Aaron Fernandes, SBS News

Mr Eades was among a delegation that visited the state’s Acacia Prison this week alongside WA Department of Corrective Services Commissioner Tony Hassall after the death of a 40-year-old Aboriginal man last weekend. 

“When I walked into Acacia Prison, all I saw was black faces. It was a very sad reminder that our Aboriginal prison population is growing, it’s not decreasing,” he said. 

“Prison isn’t the answer anymore, we have to look at the inequalities of society for our people, the disadvantages. Poverty, generational trauma, none of that’s been addressed. The government is always taking the punitive approach.” 

In addition to the nation’s highest Indigenous incarceration rate, WA has also recorded the nation’s highest number of Aboriginal deaths in custody since 1991.

A Black Lives Matter rally is planned for Perth this Saturday.

A Black Lives Matter rally.

Aaron Fernandes, SBS News

“It’s not just about Aboriginal deaths in custody, it’s about poverty, it’s about lack of housing and it’s about children being removed,” National Suicide Prevention & Trauma Recovery Project director Megan Krakouer said. 

“All these are factors with many of the families we work with. That’s why we have to call out systemic racism when we see it.

“People that are in prison, those are our people. We need to show that love, that strength and that support, backed up by investment”.

There are few people in Australia who understand the underlying causes of high incarceration rates as well as Western Australian Senator Pat Dodson. 

Thirty years ago, he was a commissioner in the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. 

“The Royal Commission inquired into 99 Aboriginal deaths. We now have somewhere in the vicinity of 430 deaths that have occurred. That’s an appalling number of people to have died in custody,” he said. 

“We haven’t seen a coordinated approach to deal with this as a national issue.”

Pat Dodson gave an impassioned speech to parliament this week.

Senator Patrick Dodson was a commissioner at the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

NITV

Senator Dodson says in addition to legislative change through parliamentary process, there need to be honest conversations about systemic racism in Australia.

He rejects Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s calls this week for demonstrators attending Black Lives Matter rallies this week to be charged under emergency management laws.

“I think the prime minister should turn his attention to what he is going to do to mitigate these circumstances and ramp up his capacity to influence the states to adopt more of the reforms as a consequence of the royal commission,” he said.

“Why is it that the systemic nature of racism is still persisting? That’s the question that has to be answered”.

On Friday, Mr Morrison met with premiers and chief ministers from the states and territories to discuss Indigenous policy ahead of talks planned for next month to finalise new targets for Closing the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Mr Morrison said there was a commitment to act and no shortage of funding to address the issue.

“The challenges of Indigenous incarceration go across so many different areas of public policy – it’s health policy, it’s youth policy, it’s a suicide policy, it’s employment policy, it’s welfare policy,” he said.

“This is an incredibly complicated area and not all Indigenous experiences are the same.” 

“There is no shortage of funds being thrown at this issue. But clearly the application of funds by governments over decades and decades and decades is not getting the results we want. I can assure you it’s not through a lack of will, it’s an admission of the complexity and the difficulty of the task.”



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