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Office of Public Affairs

Gwendolyn Osborne, Director
565 W. Adams St., Room 665
Chicago, IL 60661
P: (312) 906-5251
F: (312) 906-5363

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Weekly Media Advisory

CHICAGO—March 2015—IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law has experts available to discuss current legal issues. To reach experts on IIT's Downtown Campus, please call Gwen Osborne, director of public affairs, (312) 906-5251. Press releases and media advisories are available on our website:

The Illinois Supreme Court will hear oral arguments March 11 on the constitutionality of the state's pension reform law. Constitutional and labor law experts are available for comment.

Retirement Accounts. Last month, the Obama administration announced a push for stricter standards for those who manage retirement accounts. That same week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Tibble v. Edison, a dispute over investments made available to approximately 20,000 workers in California. These actions "shine much-needed light on a darkened corner of our dangerous new investment world," says IIT Chicago-Kent Professor William A. Birdthistle, who teaches courses in business organizations, securities regulation, corporate finance, investment funds, and international business transactions. Professor Birdthistle is the author of a forthcoming book tentatively titled Empire of the Fund: 401(k)s, Mutual Funds, and the Way We Save Now. He is available for interviews.

Drones. The National Telecommunications Information Administration last Wednesday began seeking comments aimed at developing privacy best practices for both the commercial and private use of drones. In February, the FAA proposed new rules that will allow limited commercial use of drones that weigh less than 55 pounds. IIT Chicago-Kent Professor Henry H. Perritt, Jr., is a licensed helicopter and airplane pilot and has flown drones. Professor Perritt, who has written extensively about drones, is a co-author of "Seeking Law Abiding Drones: What to Tell Clients that Want to Use Drones in Their Business" and the forthcoming book Domesticating Drones: The Technology, Law, and Economics of Unmanned Aircraft. He is available for media comment.

March is Women's History Month. IIT Chicago-Kent has experts available to discuss legal issues related to women.

Women and Justice for the Poor: A History of Legal Aid, 1863–1945, a forthcoming book by IIT Chicago-Kent Professor Felice Batlan, explores the history of the development of legal aid in the United States and the significant and unknown role that women played as both providers and clients of legal aid. In addition, the book takes a look at the history of women lawyers in this country. Professor Batlan is available for media comment.

Women in the Military: The U.S. Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve are opening to women more than 4,000 positions currently classified as officer and enlisted "men only." The goal is to make these jobs available by September 30, 2015. The directive authorizing the change in policy does not apply to combat jobs in Special Forces and Ranger units. IIT Chicago-Kent Professor Michael I. Spak, an expert in military law and currently a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, is available for interviews.

IIT Chicago-Kent legal scholars can also discuss landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions related to women, including:

  • Loving v. Virginia — In 1967, the court ruled that state laws prohibiting interracial marriages are unconstitutional.
  • Roe v. Wade — In 1973, the court held that a woman's right to abortion is part of the constitutional right to privacy.
  • Cleveland Bd. of Ed. v. LaFleur — In 1974, the justices found that mandatory maternity leave rules established by the Ohio Public Schools for pregnant teachers violated constitutional guarantees of due process.
  • Johnson v. Transportation Agency — In 1987, the justices said a California county transportation agency appropriately took into account an employee's sex as one factor in determining whether she should be promoted and that by doing so did not prevent the promotion of men by creating a quota system.
  • Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Serv. Inc. — In 1987, the court held that those who make sex discrimination claims do not have to be members of the opposite sex and that same-sex sexual harassment may form the basis for a valid claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools — In 1992, the justices ruled that monetary damages were permissible in a case brought under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and involving continual sexual harassment and abuse by a Georgia teacher.
  • Burlington Industries Inc. v. Ellerth — In 1998, the court decided that an employee who refused unwelcome and threatening sexual advances of a supervisor, but suffered no real job consequences, may recover against the employer without showing that the employer was at fault for the supervisor's actions.
  • Faragher v. City of Boca Raton — In 1998, the justices said an employer may be liable for sexual discrimination caused by a supervisor, but liability depends on the reasonableness of the employer's conduct, as well as the reasonableness of the claimant's conduct.