Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Mon 10/23 - Google Liable for $1m in Gender Bias Damages, AFL Sues NYU, SBF Defense Doesn't Like his Cartoon Villain Image and Sen. Menendez to Enter New Plea

Mon 10/23 - Google Liable for $1m in Gender Bias Damages, AFL Sues NYU, SBF Defense Doesn't Like his Cartoon Villain Image and Sen. Menendez to Enter New Plea

In today’s episode we have Google liable for $1m in gender bias damages, America First targets NYU Law Review, SBF does not like his cartoon villain image, and Senator Menendez to enter a new plea.

A cartoon villain tying Bitcoin to a railroad track.

On this day in legal history, October 23, 1987, the United States Senate rejected the nomination of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court. Nominated by President Ronald Reagan, Bork, a distinguished legal scholar and a fervent conservative, faced staunch opposition primarily from the Democratic Senate, who were troubled by his originalist interpretations of the Constitution and his past controversial legal stances. His nomination was further tainted by his role in the infamous Watergate scandal, where he, as Solicitor General, obeyed President Richard Nixon's order to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, an act that significantly tarnished his public image.

The discourse surrounding Bork's nomination was emblematic of the deep ideological chasms that characterize the judicial nomination process. It brought to the forefront the ideological underpinnings that often steer the acceptance or rejection of Supreme Court nominees, a facet that significantly shapes the judiciary's role in American polity. The term "borking" emerged from this episode, denoting the stringent public vetting and character assassination often associated with high-profile judicial nominations, reflecting the lasting imprint of this event on the American legal and political lexicon.

The Senate's rejection of Bork was more than a mere personal defeat; it was a monumental event that underscored the importance of ideological balance within the Supreme Court and the rigorous scrutiny nominees would henceforth face. The heightened public engagement and the Senate's meticulous approach towards Bork's nomination signaled a shift in the dynamics of judicial nominations, establishing a precedent of increased vigilance and scrutiny. This day marked a seminal juncture in the Senate's role in providing 'advice and consent' for judicial nominations, setting a heightened benchmark for scrutiny that continues to resonate in contemporary nomination processes.

Robert Bork's failed nomination remains an indelible part of the ongoing dialogue between jurisprudence and political ideology, showcasing the profound impact the judiciary has in shaping the nation's ideological contour. Through this lens, the rejection of Robert Bork's nomination is not only a significant chapter in legal history but also a reflective mirror of the enduring and dynamic interplay between the judiciary, the legislature, and the larger socio-political landscape of the United States.

A jury concluded that Google LLC exhibited gender bias towards female executive Ulku Rowe, mandating over $1 million in damages to be paid to her. The decision came after more than five hours of deliberation on a Friday evening. The jury allocated $150,000 for Rowe’s pain and suffering due to Google's discriminatory treatment, alongside $1 million in punitive damages. This lawsuit emerged as the inaugural pay discrimination case against Google since the 2018 mass employee walkouts protesting the company’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations against top executives.

Throughout the week-long trial, Google defended its stance, asserting that Rowe, serving as a director of engineering at Google Cloud, was provided equal opportunities and was assessed using the same performance metrics as her male peers, countering Rowe’s opposing claims. The compensation structure at Google, as outlined by Paul Hastings LLP Partner Kenneth Gage, is performance-based, with Rowe’s earnings fluctuating in comparison to her fellow directors over different years.

Rowe accused Google of gender-based discrimination by hiring her at a lower level, paying her less than male colleagues for comparable work, and denying her a deserved promotion, which allegedly was awarded to a less qualified male. Despite her extensive 23-year experience in the financial services and technology sector, Rowe was hired as a level eight employee, whereas men hired around the same time with supposedly lesser experience were placed at level nine, earning them a higher salary.

The jury, however, found that Rowe couldn’t establish that she was paid less than at least two of her male counterparts, as required by New York law. Despite this, Rowe’s attorney emphasized that Google had undervalued her expertise when she was hired in 2017 as the technical director of financial services at Google Cloud, and further alleged that Google retaliated by demoting her following her complaints about discrimination. The lawsuit, filed under New York equal pay law, aimed to hold Google accountable for perpetuating a lower standard of treatment and remuneration for women in tech, as outlined by Rowe’s legal counsel.

The verdict, although acknowledging that Rowe's pay and level were fair since her hiring and that no promotions were unjustly withheld, strongly underscores a rejection of gender discrimination and retaliation in the workplace, sending a broader message against such practices.

Google Must Pay Female Executive $1 Million for Gender Bias (1)

America First Legal (AFL), founded by Stephen Miller, has filed a lawsuit against New York University (NYU) accusing its law school of discriminating against White men during the selection process for its esteemed law review membership. The suit alleges that NYU Law Review is unlawfully favoring women, non-Asian racial minorities, and LGBT individuals in its selection of members and editors. Membership in law reviews, especially at prestigious institutions like NYU, is seen as a significant stepping stone for students aiming for high-profile positions in notable law firms.AFL is perhaps best known for suing the Kellogg’s corporation, accusing them of sexualizing pop-tarts, specifically producing gay pop-tarts, that were somehow pushing an agenda on children. This legal action follows a broader move by AFL in June, where letters were sent to NYU and other law schools nationwide, challenging their practices concerning race and gender-based preferences in admissions, hiring, and law review memberships. The scrutiny towards diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives has intensified, particularly after a recent Supreme Court decision to limit affirmative action in higher education. Conservative groups are now increasingly contesting DEI initiatives in both educational institutions and the private sector.NYU opted not to comment on the matter, and AFL did not provide an immediate response to requests for comments. Besides targeting educational institutions, AFL has been urging a US civil rights agency to probe into major corporations like Kellogg Co. and Activision Blizzard Inc. regarding their diversity policies post the Supreme Court ruling. The case against NYU is titled Doe v. New York University, filed in a federal court in Manhattan, marking another chapter in the ongoing debates surrounding affirmative action and DEI policies.

Stephen Miller’s America First Legal Sues NYU Over Law Review

Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX, is facing fraud charges tied to the bankruptcy of the cryptocurrency exchange. During the trial, his lawyers have voiced concerns over the prosecution's portrayal of Bankman-Fried as a "cartoon of a villain," based on descriptions provided by his former colleagues who testified against him. Despite these concerns, the defense has refrained from challenging some negative anecdotes about Bankman-Fried's interactions with colleagues who disagreed with company decisions.

The defense's approach might be strategic, intending to avoid drawing additional attention to unfavorable testimony, as challenging such claims might reinforce the negative image painted by the prosecution. However, experts suggest that the defense's avoidance of these issues may risk leaving a negative impression on the jury, potentially making them more inclined to convict Bankman-Fried.

The prosecution has accused Bankman-Fried of misappropriating billions of dollars from FTX customer funds to support his other venture, Alameda Research, make risky investments, and donate over $100 million to U.S. political campaigns to bolster his image. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy, facing the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence if convicted.

The defense argues that while Bankman-Fried may have "overlooked" risk management in growing FTX and Alameda, there was no intention to steal customers' money. They plan to present a competing narrative to counter the prosecution's portrayal, with some experts suggesting that Bankman-Fried taking the stand himself could help in establishing a more positive impression of his character.

Testimony from key prosecution witnesses like Nishad Singh, former Engineering Chief at FTX, and Caroline Ellison, Alameda's former CEO and Bankman-Fried's ex-girlfriend, detailed instances where Bankman-Fried allegedly disparaged colleagues over financial disagreements. These witnesses' accounts contribute to the prosecution's narrative, contrasting starkly with Bankman-Fried's pre-arrest image as a well-intentioned individual in the cryptocurrency space.

The unfolding trial reflects broader issues surrounding corporate governance and ethical conduct within the rapidly evolving cryptocurrency industry. The defense's upcoming narrative will seek to counter the negative portrayal of Bankman-Fried, aiming to provide a different context to the jury regarding his actions and intentions during his tenure at FTX and Alameda.

Sam Bankman-Fried's lawyers avoid challenges to 'cartoon' villain image | Reuters

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez is slated to enter a plea on a new indictment concerning charges of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent for the Egyptian government. The accusation, filed by federal prosecutors on October 12, alleges that Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, acted on behalf of Egyptian military and intelligence officials from 2018 to 2022. This arraignment follows previous charges against Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, for allegedly accepting significant amounts of cash and gold bars from three businessmen, in return for leveraging his influence to aid the Egyptian government and obstruct law enforcement inquiries into these businessmen.Menendez, dismissing the new charge as an addition to unfounded allegations, is expected to enter his plea at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein. Meanwhile, Nadine Menendez and one of the businessmen, Wael Hana, have already pleaded not guilty to the foreign agent charge on October 18. Amid these legal challenges, Bob Menendez has withstood pressures from fellow Democrats to step down from his senatorial position.

US Senator Menendez to be arraigned on foreign agent charge | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at