Is following the law going to kill you?

The above question was asked of me a few weeks ago like this, “Our boss is making us more insecure because of inclusiveness rules and regulations. And the damned government with all its things you can and can’t ask during hiring, interviewing, and disciplinary actions…” you can probably gather the rest of the rage of this old time HR person.

But while I agree that the workforce needs to be inclusive and non-discriminatory, as long as the individual is qualified, we are limited in screening out potential problems. Before I start getting hate mail and threatening to get…whatever it is people will say, let me explain.

We all discriminate against someone for whatever reason. How many people do you know go out of their way to associate with a blind or otherwise disabled person, especially one with a mental/learning disability? How many of you would include someone like that out for a drink and then be responsible for them, i.e. finding the restroom and getting home?

Not many Muslims will invite a Christian out to lunch, or to their home for a meal, and vice versa. Many times it’s like the Ireland of just a few years ago. Catholics and Protestants wouldn’t be seen together for any reason or risk an assault on one or both, not to mention a verbal diatribe from the families.

The same goes for a white man dating a black woman. It’s just not done, unless they wish to risk being assaulted and called many more nasty names. Yes, I know this for a fact in 1979 in a small town in liberal North Dakota. We were both ostracized and threatened albeit subtly.

We can’t ask for convictions on applications. We can’t ask for any felony convictions from more than 3 or 5 years back. We can’t ask about mental health, domestic violence, and their credit history (which could show an inclination towards financial criminal behavior if it’s bad) many more questions that would help us to assess the feasibility of any candidate to harm or perpetrate a crime against the business.

You, me, and probably 99% of all people in business will discriminate against someone every single day of the year we are at work or play. All of us do. There are certain levels of discrimination in every situation but it is still discrimination all the same. The same goes for profiling people of color, ethnicity, or gender. Examples?

  • A person walks down the street their face covered by a hoody. Unless it’s cold, you cross the street to avoid them
  • A Middle Eastern man, presumably Muslim, walks into a Christian church and sits down. No one approaches him
  • A man in a wheelchair is having trouble navigating a sidewalk. No one offers help
  • A blind woman is walking where she shouldn’t be and is obviously nervous. No one assists her
  • A mentally challenged man goes off with a group of people and is beaten, kicked, and humiliated. No one said anything

Need more examples? It happens in office buildings, complexes, stores, and hospitals. Then the government comes along and says that we need to enact this layer of bureaucracy to protect those people. Discrimination will occur no matter how many laws against it are enacted.

All these kinds of laws are enacted can do is increase the likelihood of a violent or other criminal incident within a business. By not being able to discover an individual’s background of violent tendencies and other such issues before hiring endangers everyone in the business. Of course this also applies to the health of the business if it gets sued over any number of issues.

The same holds true for businesses being scared of litigation to give correct information about a former employee during a reference check. All you get is whether they are eligible for rehire (the one thing you can use to look harder), title, salary (except in New Jersey), and how long they were employed.

But if you ask if they were fired for assault, or injuring someone on purpose…”Sorry that’s not allowed. It may hinder their rights to gain employment and we could get sued!” Hogwash. Discrimination in all phases of employment will continue as long as there are jobs to be had.

Women discriminate against men. Men discriminate against women. It doesn’t matter which race, color, gender, age, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or anything like that. You, at one time in your life will be discriminated against or make the discriminatory action yourself. Whether it was unintentional or not doesn’t really matter.

Fair? Probably not. But that is life. We have to get over such things, like letting water roll off your back like a duck, and learn to stay safe and hire the best people. we can’t be all inclusive and non-discriminatory in all circumstances. I have no doubt that I have discriminated against people when I hired them.

But again, that is my black mark to bear and no one else’s. I would rather be accused of not hiring someone for ‘gut instinct’ than have made a bad hire that led to someone getting hurt or made extra work for a co-worker unnecessarily. Gut instinct has nearly been removed from any hiring decisions and that can lead to many more crimes than just WPV or theft of funds. or Twitter: @robertsollars2

                                           I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

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