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Is Discrimination Ever Okay?

by Shawanda Greene

Asian pregnant woman happy working with laptopA few days ago, I read an eye-opening LearnVest  post titled 11 Things Hiring Managers Won’t Tell You. The article exposes the  discriminatory practices companies use to weed out job candidates.

Married Women of Childbearing Age

These sneaky tactics employed by hiring professionals are disgusting. Yet, I found myself relating to one manager who engages in unethical, not to mention illegal, behavior. (I’m not sure if I should be ashamed for feeling this way. I’ll let you know when I decide.)

Either way, here’s what the hiring manager had to say:

The people we hire are usually fresh out of college. If I see a wedding band, there’s a good probability that candidate is going to start a family soon. If I hire her and she goes on maternity leave, I can’t legally fire her, but I still have to find someone else to replace her while she’s gone. When she comes back I can’t fire her either, so now I’m stuck with two employees when all I needed was one. No thanks.

Many women have no plans of having children in the near future or ever. For them, kids don’t threaten their ability to work long hours.

But what if an applicant’s family life would interfere with her job? Are you to ignore this limitation?

Would an interviewees visibly pregnant belly leave you totally unfazed?

Can you honestly say you wouldn’t think about the costs of her maternity leave or her replacement while she’s out?

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, a new parent can take twelve weeks of job protected, unpaid time off work.

What if she chooses to stay at home with her new baby instead of returning to work? Then what do you do?

I don’t think it’s fair, right, just or whatever to discriminate against pregnant women. However, I can see how the pending life changing event would give an employer pause.

Married Women In Long Distance Relationships

Back when I worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of my colleagues didn’t reveal her marriage until a few months after she started with the company. We were all shocked by the news. Not only was she married, but her husband was pursuing a PhD at an out-of-state university. It didn’t take long for her to put in a transfer request.

I’ve always suspected she would’ve never been hired by the PwC Orlando office if HR knew her marital status. Even though we all worked for the same firm, it was the Orlando clients and the Orlando employees who were short staffed when she, understandably, transferred to live with her husband.

Black Men and Taxis

Once, after a fairly uneventful night at an H Street bar, my black boyfriend and I stepped onto the semi-gentrified roads to catch a cab.

When I want a cab, I get a cab. No biggie, right? But that night was different. Empty cabs zipped past us for at least ten minutes.

I may have thought it, but my boyfriend said it: “Taxi drivers don’t stop for black men.” They’d rather take their chances with the patrons at the mostly white bars up the street.

Still, I didn’t understand. What type of violence would someone like me – in a head to toe, Jackie O casual outfit – inflict on a grown man? I mean, do I look like someone who’d hang out with a thug?

Eventually, a white couple who’d stopped at a nearby ATM approached the curb and hailed us a cab. I was thankful, but their generosity did nothing to diffuse the anger I felt toward every asshole that refused me and my boyfriend service.

Surprisingly, my boyfriend – the black male culprit who was innately at fault for our difficulties – defended cab drivers. He told me, “Look. When a cab driver is robbed or murdered by a passenger, they’re often black men. You might not like it, but it’s true. He has to look out for his safety.”

I wanted to scream. Roooooooar! (A simple “Argh” doesn’t adequately express how I felt.)

And then I was like, “F—, you’re right.”

People Who Take in Boarders

Between me and you, I discriminate against Airbnb guests.

Although it’s not illegal, some may argue it’s still not right.

If you’re a guy, there’s a very strong likelihood you’ll receive my canned response, “The place is unavailable for the dates requested. Best of luck in your search!” In the event you’re a lunatic, I’m going to have a hard time kicking your ass. Even small men are freakishly strong.

I’m not sure where the fear comes from, but men who don’t have a strong command of the written, English language really creep me out. (I think my subconscious mind tells me they’re spammers.) Once I received a reservation request from a potential guest who was a man, a magician, and a terrible writer. Yikes!

Now, I’m sure there are plenty of non-native English speaking men who practice magic and are perfectly respectable. They’re just not welcome in my apartment.

Am I wrong?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

addvodka April 23, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Discrimination sucks, but it's something we all have to deal with, so we need to protect ourselves from it. I'm a little confused about the pregnancy one – typically, you replace the maternity leave with a temporary employee who leaves when the person who went on mat leave comes back. So you wouldn't have two employees, just one.

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Shawanda April 24, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Yeah. I'm thinking, in most states, it's pretty easy to fire someone once you don't need them anymore. If a particular employee is highly skilled, it's more challenging to find a temporary replacement. Plus, that individual will likely be hired and brought up to speed before the pregnant employee goes on maternity leave.

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Andrew April 24, 2012 at 5:26 AM

I guess i don't get that manager's reasoning for Potentially Pregnant employees. AV said it right, depending on the skill level of the position, the company could just hire a temp or a contractor.
The taxi driver deal is a toughie.
Were I a taxi driver, it might be nice to think that I'd have the Travis Bickle "anytime, anywhere" attitude, but probably not. I'd stop to pick up a nice couple, but a couple of blinged-out young dudes? Nope, sorry, got a family to go home to. It sucks, but there it is.

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Shawanda April 24, 2012 at 11:01 AM

I appreciate your honesty. We're human. Self preservation is innate. I try to make decisions that will reasonably lower my chances of dying or sustaining injury.

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L Marie Joseph May 28, 2012 at 11:34 PM

Girl, you write with so much added humor. You are so right with the taxi cabs. Black men are viewed as a threat.

Like or not we are all margin in some shape or form.

“Even small men are freakishly strong” LMAO
L Marie Joseph recently posted..My Open Stock PortfolioMy Profile

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