How Do They Get Caught?
One of the joys of teaching is how clever students can be and I have been and continue to be very fortunate in the students who have come to my classes. One day I was explaining how it is illegal to fire someone based on race or sex and a hand goes up. My student goes, “Professor Pilant, since we live in a fire at will nation, how would anyone ever get caught firing someone over sex or race when they could always say they fired them for something else?”
And I got to tell them the truth, businesses get caught because when they fire someone it is not unusual for them to tell them directly or put it in writing why they did so even when it is illegal. My class was bewildered by this. After all, aren’t these defendants often large corporations with their own lawyers? So once again I told them the truth, many managers fire without ever consulting with the legal department or in the case of small businesses without consulting with an attorney even if they have one on retainer. This didn’t help. They became even more bewildered.
So, I said this – “We live in a nation where businessmen are thought well of. They are given an automatic level of respect whether or not they deserve it. They appear on the covers of magazines. PR firms write endless text glorifying their lives and they are considered to be authorities on everything from education to government to foreign policy. I saw a few weeks ago where a community college’s future plans were made by a set of businessmen (referred to as community leaders) with the help of the President of the school and no one else, not a student, not a professor, not a public official, not an expert in the field of education, just businessmen. That’s how high that respect can go. And they believe it. And believing it they feel they understand the world in a way that others cannot. So, they do things without checking because they believe they already know what is right and correct.”
I would like to note that I ran the search “firing pregnant women” on Yahoo-search. The first search result said this subject falls into employment discrimination law and the second one listed the congressional act making firing women for being pregnant illegal. So, the story with its quote below is astonishing since even the thinnest internet search uncovers the correct answer.
That people who run companies especially small businesses deserve respect is in my mind, a foregone conclusion. It must be hard to do a lot of the tasks involved in creating and maintaining a business. But we need to remember the lesson of the ancient Greeks of the dangers of hubris, overwhelming pride. It is good to have confidence in what you are doing, except that according to the Greeks living an examined life also meant knowing when you’ve found your limits and going no further. Many a Greek story revolves around people destroying themselves because of their pride.
There are real limitations in the training and experience of those in the field of business. They are certainly valuable citizens but there are many kinds of knowledge, kinds of experience and valid ways of looking at the world and its problems that are outside the world of business.
Nonprofit Ordered To Pay $75,000 Over ‘No Pregnancy In The Workplace’ Policy | ThinkProgress
United Bible Fellowship Ministries, Inc., which provides housing and care to people with disabilities, will have to pay a former employee $75,000 for firing her after she became pregnant to settle a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The organization has had a “no pregnancy in the workplace” policy in place that meant it fired anyone who became pregnant and refused to hire anyone applying for a position while pregnant. It admitted that the former employee, Sharmira Johnson, performed her job as a resource technician providing care to residents well and didn’t have any medical restrictions that would keep her from carrying out her duties. Yet it fired her, arguing it was justifiable in order to ensure her safety, that of her unborn baby, and the safety of its clients.