Reverse Discrimination in the Workplace Term Paper
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The way that this relates to the work place, is that any kind of slight variation in the quota system can open the flood gates for these kinds of suits to occur. Then, when the court does not provide consistency in their rulings it creates even more confusion.
When you look beyond the quota system, it is clear that this basic principal, of taking something away from one group and giving preferential treatment to another; is just one of the causes that is helping to fuel reverse discrimination law suits. However, like what was stated earlier, another reason that is helping to fuel various reverse discrimination lawsuits is: because of inconsistent rulings on the matter from the courts. it's no secret, that in many of the discrimination and reverse discrimination law suits the courts have a track record of being divided on the issue. This is because the court system relies on the various judges, interpreting the law based on previous court decisions and their own personal interpretation of the law. These two factors, add to the overall amounts of confusion, as the inconsistent rulings create an atmosphere of reverse discrimination. A good example of this; can be seen in a court case out the U.S. District Court in Western New York, Pasternak vs. Baines. What happened was: Mark Pasternak was a white, youth aid that worked for New York State Office of Child and Family Services (NYSOCFS). In 1995 he was passed over for promotion in favor of an African-American named Tommy Baines. ("Court Decides Reverse Racial Harassment Case," 2006) According to accounts from Pasternak, after Baines was in the position a short while he would engage in a three-year pattern of reverse discrimination. He often, encouraged the various African-American members of the staff to band together against him. Where, Pasternak said he would often be referred to as a "cracker and a stupid white boy." He then said, that Baines told him when he was first promoted to the position, "You're a white boy, and I don't like white boys. Handle it." (Austin, 2007) at first, the claims from Pasternak were denied as unfounded accusations, yet an independent investigation revealed that such behavior was being directed at him. The state did sanction Baines for his remarks by allowing him to remain as Pasternak's supervisor, fining him $2,000.00 and giving him a verbal warning. The situation did nothing to alleviate the tension, as Pasternak began to have psychological problems and was forced to take numerous leaves of absence. The third time that he took a leave of absence; he was fired for extensive absenteeism. As result, Pasternak sued the NYSOCFS, for reverse discrimination and alleged that commissioner John Johnson allowed Baines to knowingly engage in such activities. Pasternak was given the opportunity to return to the same position with Baines as his supervisor. Yet, with the racially charged atmosphere he refused, unless they could guarantee that Baines and him would not be working together. During the court proceedings, the defense argued that the case should be thrown out; because Pasternak can not show that there was a consistent pattern of racial discrimination (claiming that he is reaching conclusions based on isolated incidents). They then stated that Federal law requires: for any kind of discrimination law suit to move forward, a consistent pattern of discrimination must be established. ("Court Decides Reverse Racial Harassment Case," 2006) After hearing, both arguments, the jury agreed that Pasternak was in fact discriminated against because he was white, awarding him $150,000.00 in damages. After winning the case Pasternak's attorney commented about Baines actions by saying, "Tommy Baines never denied saying those things, and I certainly pointed that out to the jury in my closing argument." (Austin, 2007)
What this shows; is that the politically correct atmosphere of any kind of possible discrimination suit has given some people (who are in the minorities) a free pass to engage in their own forms of racial discrimination. When these actions are complained about by the people they are discriminating against; the administrators and managers are reluctant to root out the problem. For out of fear, that they could be the subject of a discrimination law suit or face accusations themselves that they are engaging in racial discrimination. This means, that when situations such as: the one involving Pasternak and Baines exist, discrimination only
continues in a different form. This is because the courts have made inconsistent rulings. This inconsistency, allows for the atmosphere of reverse discrimination to occur. Due to the fact, that the penalties are to stiff for those engaging in such activities; at which point, the organization could face the negative publicity and public accusations that they are discriminating against the employee who is doing reverse discrimination. During a time when those people and organizations that are discovered to be racist are looked down upon, this could mean the end of careers and livelihoods. To avoid such confrontations, most organizations will take more of a hands off approach to reverse discrimination.
While the above situation may sound like an isolated incident, the reality is that reverse discrimination in the work place is common at certain institutions. One of the most notable would include the very organization that is designed to enforce the different civil rights law, the EEOC. In the case Terry vs. Gallegos, Joseph Terry, a white lawyer for the commission was passed over 10 times for: the position of EEOC Deputy General Council, in favor of candidates who are of African-American decent. Realizing that he was the victim of reverse discrimination; he sued the EEOC and was promoted to the position, along with receiving monetary damages for the repeated acts of reverse discrimination at the hands of the government. What makes this case so disturbing is: that this is the second time that the EEOC has been found guilty of violating the very laws it is suppose to be enforcing. In a previous reverse discrimination case (Jurgens vs. Thomas) the EEOC lost a similar lawsuit with the lead council of the EEOC (Richard Komer) commenting about the decision, "It certainly was embarrassing. The EEOC was found guilty of discriminating under the same statutes it was enforcing." (Berlau, 1997) After this decision, the official hiring quotas at the EEOC were abandoned. However, unofficially both African-American and Hispanic supervisors at the commission wanted to hire "their own." This unofficial policy allowed the racial imbalance to slip at the EEOC. Where, 50% of the agency's white collar jobs are held by African-Americans, who make up 9% of the total workforce at the EEOC. (Berlau, 1997) What makes this case so twisted; is the fact that Terry had grown up in the segregated south and became a lawyer to address the various racial injustices that were occurring. He had won several high profile discrimination cases for the agency and was named the 1988 Regional Attorney of the Year. Yet, every time Terry was up for promotion, he was constantly passed over for less qualified minority candidates. In many cases, the people who were promoted had less trial experience and knowledge in working with various civil rights cases. (Berlau, 1997) Terry, filed several complaints with agency, but the matter was never looked into. At the time of the violation, the Regan and Bush Administrations tried to clean up the agency, but key staff continued to embrace the policies of the past. This made it difficult, for upper management to be aware of the problem, much less address concerns of racial preference. (Berlau, 1997) as a result, Terry won his reverse discrimination case, with the government giving him the promotion that he had been seeking for so long. In addition to being awarded all back pay, monetary damages of $150,000.00 and $8,000.00 for emotional distress. With, the court saying, "Many of the minority candidates promoted over Mr. Terry lacked any or all of: the high-level government training Mr. Terry had. The experience in Civil Rights earned by Mr. Terry; the education and technical skills possessed by Mr. Terry; and/or the glowing superior performance reviews Mr. Terry always received from his EEOC bosses." ("EEOC Attorney Win Reverse Discrimination Case Against EEOC." 2002)
What this shows is that the EEOC is the biggest violator of the various provisions that it is suppose to enforce, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, when it is first discovered that preferences do exist, the agency officially discourages that behavior. Yet, everyone continues to engage in the same actions, despite the courts saying that such activity is illegal. When you combine this with the quota system and the various court cases causing confusion; it only underscores why such behavior is continuing. In the case of the EEOC, they are the worst violators of the law, by not following the same regulations and then looking the other way when such violations occur. This creates an atmosphere of reverse discrimination in the agency as many minority supervisors, will look to find the same…
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