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Employment Discrimination Lawsuits depress me

August 13, 2011

I remember when I was learning about some employment laws in my business law class. (I’ll probably mess up the technical legal aspects of employment discrimination law in this blog post, but oh well.)

I was kinda intrigued that the law empowered people to file their own suits in the case of discrimination on various categories…after filing an administrative complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It seemed at the time to be this way to deal with the fact that government agencies are often underfunded and/or understaffed…so why not just put the power into the people’s own hands?

But then I realized that the prospect kinda depressed me.

When you’re being discriminated against, that usually comes with a sign that people see you as being less…if they don’t actively dislike you. I mean, certainly there are issues of unintentional discrimination (where the discrimination is more in how things shake out than any conscious decision to get at some group), but think that if someone intends not to hire someone because they don’t like their [insert protected class status here.]

Well, that sucks.

To fight against them in court won’t win you any friends, even though you’re just fighting for your rights to be treated just like anyone else. Can you imagine how the conversation will go when things shake out? “Oh, so remember when I totally sued you guys…yeah…let’s go out after work for dinner.”

Little Rock Nine

And you thought your high school experience was awkward.

(I feel like this awkwardness can seep through to other non-employment discriminatory settings. Imagine going to a once-segregated country club. Imagine trying to actively join that club in a segregated era. I mean, in the era of newly desegregated schools, imagine being the kid who needs National Guardsmen to make sure that no one else tries to block your way…if not do worse things.

It seems to me that even if you win…even if you make your way in (or make your way back…or improve conditions on the f ace of them, or improve salary…or whatever), that when you know someone’s true colors, that really does change everything. To quote Beyonce and Lady Gaga (bear with me):

Trust is like a mirror…you can fix it when it’s broken, but you can still see the crack in that mother****er’s reflection.

I feel this way about situations far less “monumental” or serious than employment or civil rights (and so yes, this post is actually #VagueBlogging, even if it seems to be perfectly clear what the subject really is about). If people just don’t want to hear what you’re saying, or they want you to temper what you’re saying, or whatever…then why try to force your way there? Why try to beg to be allowed into that group? You know their true colors. You know that really, you’re not wanted.  Any victory would be bittersweet. Oh yeah, I stuck it to your group! Bravo.

And in this less-serious world, maybe it doesn’t matter? We’re not necessarily talking about protected classes, like race or sex. We could be talking about different life experiences or different paths in life. You have no right to tell your story and no one else is obliged to hear it.

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