Insular Individualism: Employment Discrimination Law After Ledbetter v. Goodyear

Summer 2008 article from Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (CR-CL)

Written by Tristin K. Green, Professor of Law, Seton Hall Law School, this article addresses the changing nature of decisions on cases of discrimination. Green states:

The insular individualism that underlies Ledbetter is part of a conceptual shift that has occurred over the past several decades toward viewing discrimination as largely a problem of individuals acting contrary to the interests of the organizations within which they work.

In the Conclusion, Green states:

The recent outrage over the Supreme Court’s holding in Ledbetter is understandable. Discrimination in pay remains prevalent, and the Court’s decision makes it exceedingly difficult for victims to hold their employers accountable for that discrimination. The narrow efforts to mitigate the immediate effect of Ledbetter, though, risk overshadowing the deeper conceptual shift that the case reflects. Insular individualism—the belief that discrimination can be reduced to the action of an individual decisionmaker or a group of decisionmakers isolated from the work environment and the employer— has tremendous potential to reshape individual disparate treatment law. But there are ways to loosen its grip. Litigants and advocates who understand insular individualism can work to reduce its influence by emphasizing the complexity of discrimination, particularly the role of organizations in shaping the context for individual actions. Employers are not innocent bystanders to independent acts of discrimination by their employees; they are intimately involved in the discrimination that takes place within their walls.

This is an Open Access Journal freely available on the Web.  See the entire article here:


One Response

  1. […] there is an interesting installment from the academic world (also blogged about at Women’s Studies Liblog). A recent article in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review by Tristin K. Green […]

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