Sunday, April 14, 2013

Is There Still Unlawful Prejudice in the Workplace?

When I first started representing workers of color who were fired and demoted because of the color of their skin; when I first started representing women employees who were fondled, molested and harassed by men at work; and, when I first started representing long -term workers who were fired once they reached their fifties and sixties, I was fairly confident that I was going to spend about ten years in discrimination law, and then move on to something else. Surely ten years was long enough for social change, especially when the businesses would be reprimanding, demoting and firing the bad actors. Surely, with an economic incentive, businesses who lead the fight against unlawful discrimination. 

Unfortunately, my predictions proved false. I was naive. Racism, sexism and ageism are deeply ingrained in our culture and, although, an economic incentive helps reduce bias, I overlook a more compelling reason for the perpetuation of stereotype and bias - people who lack self-esteem and who will not willingly risk their own sense of power.  Racists and sexists are oftentimes scared bullies who fear relinquishing turf.  Racists, sexists and ageists by and large lack logical arguments and logic. They act from fear.  Their scared. "That "n" should not have the same job and same pay as a hard-working white." "Those Hispanics shouldn't steal our jobs". "I won't take orders from no woman so I am going to intimidate and embarrass her." Some scared people have a hard time relinquishing status and control.  If they do not have power and status over their perceived "inferiors," where does that leave them?

That's not to say that racism and sexism today is reminiscent of the 1950's or as depicted in shows like "Mad Men,".  it's not. We have an African-American president and we may have a female president in my lifetime. Prejudices against the LGBT community are disappearing. I predict that this maligned group will be next to gain nation-wide statutory protection against job discrimination. People are feeling increasingly courageous enough to blow the whistle on corporate wrongdoing. We are on the right road!!!  But I have plenty of cases with photos of genitalia sent to employees, workers called the "n" word, and workers who are fired right before they reach retirement age.  We still have a war on discrimination out there.  I am so thankful for the brave soldiers, the workers brave enough to be plaintiffs, who have the guts to keep fighting!

Here's to you, the courageous clients who just can't take it anymore and want to insure we  treated everyone equally regardless of the color of our skin, our gender or our age. These are some of the  the people who make America great, the people willing to challenge the status quo. There's more than one way to fight a war.  


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    1. Hi I loved this article, I needed to read this. Where I work at there is a new GM who was hired and I believe she is very prejudice towards minorities. The first person who got fired when she came in was a Hispanic male with very broken English, just yesterday she had an African American girl in tears. We had a customer who was Mexican embarrassed almost to tears because a cashier forgot to charge her for an items and this manager made it a fact to go to the door and tell her did she plan to pay for it or not. Today she sent one of the other managers to write me up because of my job performance which she has a problem with ( I can honestly say I wasn't shocked that she was going to do that)even though I was promoted to it last December and still have not been trained for the job even though The merchandise is selling rather well, and I am also responsible for two other departments. Is there any way to report this without getting fired or is there someone that we can report this to, I would appreciate any help or advice with this problem. Thank you.

  2. In answer to your question, you bet there's an unlawful prejudice in the workplace.

    Sadly, more than one.

    It might take shape against minorities, against blacks, women, Hispanics, the "older", elderly or just "no longer that young", whatever they want to call it.

    You bet there is.

    And it's extremely well hidden, too frequently.