• 1 October 2008
  • Posted By Rebecca Schiel
  • 0 Comments
  • Iranian American activism

Washington, DC- “We have unearthed an anti-plaintiff effect that is troubling,” said Cyrus Mehri in testimony last Tuesday before a Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Barriers to Justice: Examining Equal Pay for Equal Work.” The hearing dealt with different dimensions of federal court discrimination against employee filed lawsuits. Mehri is on the Board of Advisors at NIAC and a founding partner of the law firm Mehri & Skalet, PLLC.

Mehri spoke to the committee about a recent study by Cornell University Law School which listed three troubling findings: the double standard on appeal, a significant drop in employment cases since 1997, and worrisome patterns in outcomes in trial court proceedings. He concluded that these patterns evidence a growing tide of discrimination by federal courts against workers and their lawsuits. Mehri advocated a “fundamental shift that [would] dramatically expand the pool of Judicial nominees…not just diversity in terms of race, gender and other personal traits…diversity in terms of legal expertise and life experiences” in order to remedy this problem. Mehri gave insight into the way the judicial system exists now for those experiencing discrimination saying, “Wrongdoers in effect go scot-free, while workers expecting a level playing field face heart-breaking defeats.”

According to the study, the rate of employer victories overturned in appeals is dwarfed by that of overturned cases where the employee was initially victorious; employer victories have an 8.72% reversal rate compared with employee victories which have a 41.10% reversal rate. Mehri cites the study by Dean Schwab and Professor Clermont in his testimony stating “An appeal reversal disparity that is five to one is indefensible.”Additionally, the numbers of discrimination cases which actually go to court are down from the 1997 numbers by 37%, indicating disillusionment with the system on the part of the workers. Furthermore, the study found that a disparity exists between employer victories in bench cases versus trial cases. In short, employees are more likely to find sympathy for their cases in juries, than in judges. “Federal Courts are hostile towards employee rights” said Nancy Richards-Stower, a civil rights attorney interviewed in the study.

Mehri, an active member in the Iranian-American community, served as legal counsel in the two largest class action race discrimination suites in American history.

Posted By Rebecca Schiel

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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