5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: May 19

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience.

1. Emergency Services Dispatcher Could Be Fired Over Handling of Buffalo Shooting Call

A 911 dispatcher in Buffalo is on leave and could be fired after an assistant office manager at the Tops supermarket where a white gunman shot at 13 people and killed 10 Black people said the dispatcher she spoke with during the Buffalo shooting over the weekend hung up on her. 

The gunman, a white man named Payton Gendron, 18, shot at 13 people and killed 10 Black people in “one of the worst racist mass shootings in the history of the United States,” according to the New York Times. Gendron has been accused of traveling to Buffalo from his home in Conklin, New York, to specifically kill Black people. He appeared in court on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. 

The Tops employee, Latisha Rogers, said she called 911 during the shooting while hiding. She whispered on the phone in hopes he would not notice her. She said she was yelled at by the dispatcher for whispering, to which Rogers explained that he was shooting and that she was scared for her life. She asked the dispatcher to send help and says the dispatcher hung up on her.

Mark Poloncarz, a spokesman from the Erie County executive, said the call was reviewed and it was not clear who hung up on whom. Buffalo’s police commissioner, Joseph A. Gramaglia, said in a news conference on Sunday that the first 911 call came in at 2:30 p.m. and officers arrived by 2:31 p.m. 

Madison Ruffo, a spokeswoman for CSEA Region 6, which is the public employees’ union that represents the dispatcher, said it could not comment on active investigations or disciplinary matters involving its members.

2. Judge Rules SEC is Unconstitutional for Putting Defendants in Front of Internal Judges

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has denied defendants their right to a jury trial by putting defendants in front of internal SEC judges. 

The court ruled in favor of George Jarkesy and Patriot28 LLC in a 2-1 ruling. Jarkesy sued the SEC in 2011 after the SEC told him to pay a $300,000 fine in a security fraud case. 

Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod said the SEC was in violation of the right to a jury trial because it was having in-house judges make rulings, allowing the SEC to act as prosecutor and judge in a case. 

Judge Eugene Davis disagreed with Walker, “saying the right to a jury trial did not pertain to administrative proceedings and that the SEC was enforcing laws and statutes in the public interest,” The Hill writes

The ruling could impact the SEC’s ability to administer fines and enforce regulations intended to deter fraud and other white-collar crimes as well as corporate malfeasance.

3. California Judge Decides State Can’t Mandate Corporate Diversity

Los Angeles Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis of the Superior Court has ruled that California’s landmark law to require corporate boards to include women is unconstitutional. 

The law would have required boards to have at least three female directors by this year, which the judge said violated the right to equal treatment. 

The law was challenged by conservative group Judicial Watch. The group claimed it was “illegal to use taxpayer funds to enforce a law that violates the equal protection clause of the California Constitution by mandating a gender-based quota,” the Associated Press writes

David Levine, a law professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, said the verdict was not surprising. He said “mandating a quota like this was never going to fly.” 

California State Senate Leader Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego, said she was disappointed by the ruling, adding that it’s a reminder ““that sometimes our legalities don’t match our realities.”

“More women on corporate boards means better decisions and businesses that outperform the competition,” she said in a statement. “We believe this law remains important, despite the disheartening ruling.”

4. Research Presented by The Wharton School at DiversityInc’s Top 50 Event

During a presentation titled “Cutting Edge Research on DEI in The Workplace” at DiversityInc’s Top 50 event on May 3, Dr. Stephanie Creary, Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School, and her colleagues shared unpublished research on diversity, equity and inclusion.

View All Top 50 Sessions

5. How Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta Has Led the Company To Be a Top Employer for Diversity

Hilton (a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company) CEO Chris Nassetta has had an interesting road to his path to CEO, which has been paved by diversity in some ways.

In a Q&A with DiversityInc, he said he “learned early on that you can’t surround yourself with people with the same background or point of view as you.”

“You have to build a team around you that challenges you and brings their unique skills and life experiences to the table – and you have to act on what you hear and learn. That diversity of thought, coupled with our bias towards action is really important at Hilton and helps us better serve all our stakeholders. It’s also helped us build this really inclusive culture that enables our Team Members to bring their authentic selves to work each day – because they feel supported and know that they have a meaningful impact on the business,” he said. 

Subscribe to DiversityInc Best Practices to read the full Q&A.  

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