DP5211 | Implementation of Anti-Discrimination Policy: Does Judicial Selection Matter?

Publication Date

23/09/2005

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Abstract

One of the most striking changes in labour market policy of the past 50 years has come in the form of legislation to limit discrimination in the workplace based on race, gender, disability and age. If such measures are to be effective in ending discrimination, they need to be enforced. The latter is dependent on state and federal agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and ultimately the willingness of courts to find in favour of plaintiffs. Courts also play an important role in the evolution of anti-discrimination policy since past decisions create future precedent. This paper asks whether the number of charges filed with government agencies depends on the method by which judges are selected. Popularly elected judges should be expected to have more pro-employee preferences (selection) and should move closer to employee preferences (incentives). This should result in fewer anti-discrimination charges being filed in states that appoint their judges. In line with this prediction, this paper uses data on the number of employment discrimination charges filed for the period 1973-2000 and finds that states that appoint their judges have fewer anti-discrimination charges being filed.