In a move that is sure to draw a discrimination lawsuit — or should, anyway — the Mankato School Board in Minnesota voted earlier this month to approve a policy that could see non-white teachers being given extra pay simply because they’re not white.
Under the leadership of chairperson Jodi Sapp, the board voted to amend previous district policy so only non-white teachers can be paid “additional stipends” in order to mentor other non-white colleagues, Alpha News reported.
Also, the new policy allows for “placing American Indian educators at sites with other American Indian educators and educators of color at sites with other educators of color.” In addition, the policy seeks to “increase opportunity for collegial support” for BIPOC teachers, in order to increase district retention rates among those demographics.
“When you’re one [minority] of a [white] majority it can be very isolating and lonely. To have a support system in place for them is not to segregate them, it is absolutely to support them,” said board member Erin Roberts. “It’s not about trying to throw the few [BIPOC] individuals we have into one building. It’s about showing them they aren’t alone.”
“It creates global citizens at the end of the day,” Vice Chair Kenneth Reid added in response to the adoption of the policies.
Great — except that America is a sovereign entity, not simply one territory in a global government consortium.
The news outlet added:
Critics have pointed out that the latter of the district’s new policies, which will have administrators placing teachers in work environments based on their race, looks a lot like segregation. Board members explained that this is not segregation, though, before the vote took place.
These new measures are not without opponents. State Rep. Jeremy Munson criticized the new policy.
“Our largest local school district just voted to pay people differently, not on merit, or by the content of their character, but based solely on the color of their skin,” he said, referring to the additional financial incentives available only to non-white teachers.
“This is allowed and encouraged under a revision to Minnesota state Statute 122A.70. Mankato Area Public Schools Policy number 466 provides pay for black and native American school staff above which is paid to white employees,” he wrote on Facebook.
But is it really “allowed”?
“Federal discrimination laws are legislation that prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees based on characteristics, such as age, race, and religion. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an overarching law that serves as an example of a federal discrimination law,” notes the legal site UpCounsel.
The site adds:
This legislation prohibits employers from harassing or discriminating against job applicants or employees on the basis of a protected characteristic such as:
- Sexual orientation
- Religious beliefs
- National origin and more
Further, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is authorized to enforce statutes that “prohibit employers from paying employees differently based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age (40 or older), or genetic information.”
“All forms of pay are covered by these laws, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, vacation and holiday pay, insurance, use of company vehicles, and benefits,” the EEOC website states.
The laws also protect whistleblowers.
“The laws enforced by EEOC protect you from being punished or harassed at work because you or someone you closely associate with (for example, a relative or close friend) complains about pay discrimination. We call this your right to be protected from retaliation,” the agency’s website adds.
It’s not clear by what authority Minnesota state lawmakers claimed in passing legislation that allows for straight-up racial discrimination in how residents of the state are paid, but given the federal statutes being pretty clear on the issue, the Mankato School Board is likely headed for litigation.