Saturday, February 09, 2008

Collateral Damage

An assistant professor at Parkside was fired recently for not showing up for work for five months. The professor, a black man of Nigerian descent, was recently denied tenure. He also had filed a federal lawsuit alleging that he was discriminated against because of his race. This matter will be settled in court.

Now imagine you are an employer that, unlike UW Parkside, does not have access to taxpayers cash. You have to spend your own money when you get sued. Now imagine two job applicants that appear to be equally competent, one black and one white. If you hire the white employee, it is exceedingly unlikely that you will face a discrimination lawsuit if you fire him for incompetence. But if you hire the black employee, you face the possibility of getting sued for racial discrimination. Even if the chances of getting sued are remote, the potential damage could be devastating to a business. It is entirely reasonable for an employer to factor in the potential cost of a lawsuit when hiring, even though I suspect that doing so would be illegal.

Now suppose you are an applicant for a job and you happen to be black. You are a reasonable person with no axe to grind. You would never file a bogus discrimination suit. Yet you know that your chances of getting a job are hampered by discrimination lawsuits filed by other black people.

Regarding the Parkside case, I don't know if the lawsuit is bogus or not. But if it is, the Parkside professor will not pay the price. The price will be paid by a decent, competent minority who doesn't get the job.

10 comments:

Caledonication said...

And to think, all this time I thought I was the one holding the black man down.

Conscious Thought said...

In today's society, anyone of any color has the possibility of suing employers for racial discrimination, this includes white people as well.

You mentioned that a job seekers efforts would be hampered by other discrimination lawsuits, if the job seeker was white, and filed a reverse discrimination suit because he was white, do you think employers, in this case UWP, would then be more interested in non-white applicants, for fear of being sued for reverse discrimination?....

Denis Navratil said...

CTW, yes, I think that if a higher percentage of white employees sued for racial discrimination than black employees, it would have a detrimental effect on white employment.

conscious thought said...

So since minorities can and have sued for discrimination claims, and so have whites for the same claim, how do you suggest employers proceed when any potential, competent employee of any race can potentially sue them for racial discrimination?...

I'm also curious, does this same fear play into your own hiring decisions at your establishment?

Denis Navratil said...

CTW, I think that the relevant info is not that anyone can sue but rather who is sueing at the greater rate. If, for example, fired whites sue 1% of the time while fired blacks sue 5% of the time, then it would be safer to hire the white person, all other factors being equal.

With respect to my business decisions, that is not the point of this blog. However, I have, over the years, hired minorities, including two black gentlemen.

Anonymous said...

A minority sued our small co. via EEOC. It was silly. It cost him almost nothing; it cost us $7,000; it cost the taxpayers something for his lawyers. He got tired of the long process and left town.
You bet I will think real hard before hiring another minority. Real hard.

Conscious Thought said...

Instead of not hiring people of color to prevent discrimination suits, which will ultimately lead to more suits, how about actually not discriminating, to prevent discrimination suits?

When companies ignore problems and don't immediately address them, it usually ends up costing them way more in valuable time, resources and most importantly money.

Denis Navratil said...

CTW, you seem to be suggesting that discrimination lawsuits always follow discrimination, as though bogus lawsuits never occur. I have a bridge to sell you.

Anonymous said...

even bogus lawsuits can be prevented simply by not discriminating.

Denis Navratil said...

anon, please tell me you are joking.