Employment Law

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The US legal system despite being the most sophisticated and advanced in the world is still imperfect and there exist numerous legal battles especially related to employment and equal opportunity. The following essay discusses specific employment situations and issues that I have encountered. It will include what I know about employment conflicts, questions, grievances, lawsuits, etc., whether encountered personally or encountered by an acquaintance. It will also analyze the experienced employment situation and describe the legal actions taken to handle or resolve the situations.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: its impact on Employment law

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, makes racial discrimination or segregation outlawed in the USA and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was supposed to oversee the implementation of it throughout the country (Roscigno , 2007). Still, even the modern XXI century civilized world there appears to exist some sophisticated form of racism that as my uncle described happened to his black co-worker. He noted that the software company they worked for was predominantly white, with the blacks occupying only the entry level positions of program testers. Jim, was the only black programmer who was made a project leader and that certainly disturbed others. Discrimination first took form of harassment, when programmers started to make jokes about monkeys in Jim’s presence, being diplomatic enough to never, ever call him a monkey. Still such jokes apparently irritated Jim and he complained to the boss. Certainly, since no one ever directly called Jim a monkey, he could not accuse anyone of racism. The white boss apparently did not like Jim much, so he used victimization to punish the complaining black. He was a very cunning guy who at first praised Jim for his successes and even gave him a small pay raise (to appease Jim). Then he switched to a practice of assigning Jim to other the projects that were least likely to succeed or to those projects that had the employees who said “monkey” jokes. When projects failed, and when white employees sabotaged worked as directed by Jim pretending not to get clear instructions, Jim’s rating fell and he was dismissed lacking leadership skills. Jim never sued the company.

employment law

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects pregnant females in the workplace from discrimination (Cohn, 2005). Still there appears to exist pregnancy discrimination in all Hollywood movie houses. My friend, Anny, always wanted to become a movie star and in fact, she got invited to star in some commercials and sitcoms. I remember that she told me that when she signed a contract with one well-known Hollywood studio, the HR manager after asking her about her plans with regards to marrying and having children in the next 5 years, told her that the company invests in her education, professionalism and image yet wants to benefit from her beauty. Marriage and pregnancy might have unpredictable effects on her beauty which the organization was buying, so she was not supposed to have children in the next 5 years (duration of a contract). Neither she could gain more than 7 pounds. Having children would mean cancellation of a contract and financial obligations from Anny to the company limited to the sum necessary to re-film the unfinished project with Anny if pregnancy is discovered in the process of filming something. Since Anny wanted to star in a sitcom she agreed. She told me that she actually consulted with a lawyer regarding the contract and he told her that there exist some legal loopholes that allow film companies as well as modeling agencies to discriminate against women in this manner.

Americans with Disabilities Act

Americans with Disabilities Act protects disabled Americans from discrimination in the work place and calls organizations to provide reasonable adjustment, while the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, prohibits discrimination of employees on the basis of age (Dipboye, 2005). A good friend of my family believes that he in fact was discriminated because of Age and because of his disability. Jack, lost a leg from the knee down in his early 20s. Ever since he had a fake leg, yet never quit sports. He did so well in swimming that he actually won several medals in state Para Olympic competitions in swimming (competitions for handicapped people). Throughout his life he worked as a counselor and an instructor to the handicapped people encouraging them not to give up, to lead a normal life, to play sports and to swim. Now, in his 50s Jack wanted to apply for a position of a life guard and work at one private beach. Jack failed because he was the slowest running 200 meters dash, although he, in his 50s was the fastest swimmer and the most knowledgeable individual who knew CPR and life saving drills. He objected that the 200 meters was not appropriate, especially taking into account that the beach was only about 70 meters wide and that his supreme swimming skills were supposed to give him a job. The management said that a lifeguard needs not only to swim but to run, assuming that many people require his support. One of the people who applied to this position took him aside and said “You see pop. This is a private beach. They want to see sexy young males like those from Baywatch show. People would feel uncomfortable watching your fake leg and they would not trust a lifeguard with a fake leg. You had your time. Let kids like me have that job.” Jack got very upset after realizing that people were so much uncomfortable with his disability that he left and never sued the company.

employment law

As the cases showed all of those who were discriminated against either got very upset or humiliated to leave and to never come back. None of the people who were discriminated was brave enough to sue the company or to demand explanation from the management. Furthermore, those who discriminated were not rude or offensive, yet rather slick and sly enough not to make discrimination apparent.

The employment situations would probably not be handled differently if the worker involved in the situation was not an employee, but an agent of the company or a contract laborer. After all no one openly discriminated against Jim so it appears that it was his own lack of leadership that he could not manage the white guys and failed projects. Likewise it would be hard for Jack to persuade the court that 200 meters dash is not what a life guard should do fast even if the beach length was much shorter. Perhaps Anny could have a case, yet since the lawyer she contacted dissuaded her from suing the company, and the lawyers usually want the cases in which they win (to get more money and recognition), probably the company had a strong case that Anny would not win in court.

It appears that only if  the worker was a member of a union or a party to a collective bargaining contract she/he could have been protected because the labor or trade union would stand up for this single employee and threaten demonstrations, walkouts, or collective action in court. The unions usually have enough money to hire the best lawyers and assure adherence to employment law.

Bibliography:

  1. Roscigno , Vincent J. (2007). The Face of Discrimination: How Race and Gender Impact Work and Home Lives. McGraw Hill, pp. 193-194.
  2. Dipboye, Robert L. , Adrienne Colella . (2005). Discrimination at Work: The Psychological and Organizational Bases (Organizational Frontiers Series). Barrons Books, pp. 120-125.
  3. Cohn, Samuel. (2005). Race, Gender, And Discrimination At Work (Foundation of Social Inquiry). Wiley and sons press, pp. 107-111.

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Posted in Law, Legal Studies, US history and tagged Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Employment Law paper, regnancy Discrimination Act, Title VII.