Sunday, June 9, 2013

Politicians - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Through the years, I have sued several politicians for discriminating against my clients. Politicians are different than other employers.  They have virtually no bosses.  Their real bosses are the electorate, and, depending on the nature of the case and the importance of the politician, the electorate may never know enough to throw the bum out.  We all remember President Clinton's famous,"I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky". Not all harassers are the President of the United States. The local recorder of deeds' affairs may go totally unnoticed by the voters. As with all cases, it takes someone to notice and object before the discrimination will stop.   

Politicians remind me of the Clint Eastwood movie, "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly."   Here's how:

THE GOOD - Many, if not most, politicians become politicians because they believe they know how to improve society.  I like to think most people running for political office want to do good. They may be idealistic, they may be brilliant.  They want to be known as someone who fixes problems and makes society better. 

THE BAD - Just because a person can do what it takes to get elected, it doesn't mean they have administrative skills or know-how to run an office and supervise employees.   While mostly large employers have regular management training including how to prevent and deal with sex, age, race or disability discrimination, oftentimes elected officials do not.  Merely because a politician successful sought a political office, does not mean the politician understands government laws.  I have found that some politicians are ignorant of sexual harassment, age and retaliation laws, and have little desire to learn. 

THE UGLY- There are some politicians who just aren't strong enough to do what's right.  These are the people taken with the power of their office.  They feel that, since people voted for them, they must be really popular. And these are the people who really dig power.  They are bad bosses, even if they do not win their elections because they are insecure.  These insecure people get off on adoration. They think they are above the law.  While they recognize sexual harassment is illegal, when they come on to members of their staffs, it's not sexual harassment because they must be so. Desirable to everyone. These politicians are arrogant, insecure and insensitive.  If they want something to happen, like firing staff, they don't worry about their motives, like wanting younger employees, because those laws apply to the regular folks not bestowed with special powers from the electorate. As Cicero said, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

So what do you do if you are being fired for your race or age, or the boss wants to sleep with you, and your boss is an elected official?  Well, you can always leave, and keep your mouth shut. Try to move on and hope your experience does not hurt you in getting the next job. Or, you can fight.  Fighting is not easy. Your case will probably be in the news.  The politician's office may make up lies about you. Your most intimate secrets could be plastered over the newspaper. You may agree that you can't fight city hall. 

But there are some special people out there who have a keen sense of what's right and what sucks.  They have to fight back. They can't tolerate injustice. If they don't fight, they won't forgive themselves.  These people don't want others to experience the humiliation that the politician-employer caused them. I have represented several of these fighters, and I am in awe of them. What courage!  It makes me proud to be a lawyer. 

1 comment:

  1. We have to end--fight to end--campaign contributions, completely.