Shame

There is currently legislation pending in Ohio that would prohibit employers from advertising that “only the employed need apply”.

The HR rationale for this language is that people without jobs are desperate and have lost skills so they already shouldn’t make the first cut. While those employed are demonstrating that they must have significant value if they were not let go.

The really interesting thing about this that the chamber of commerce folks are lobbying by saying that legislation is unnecessary and will lead to frivolous lawsuits. They proclaim that the industry has already “shamed” those businesses who used this language into stopping.

Couple things wrong with this argument:

  1. The practice has been going on since 2009 and has not stopped except in those states that have this legislation in place, which I believe at this point is only New Jersey.
  2. As self-policing goes I hesitate to trust the folks who thought up a bad idea in the first place to make sure that they don’t continue to use the bad idea.
  3. Civil rights protections generally do require federal, state and local government oversight and legislation to become reality.
  4. And finally, “shaming”, while apparently useful for Jehovah Witnesses, Scientologists and the Amish, has never proven to be an effective method for societal change. ‘Do the right thing’ may be lurking deep in all of our hearts, but its no match for institutional discrimination and cultural bias.

Shame is an interesting concept. Has shame caused folks to close the wage gap for women?

Let’s see, “shame” at paying women one rate and men another for the same work + the Equal Pay Act which prohibited advertising jobs segregated by sex, has moved women’s wages from 61 cents per dollar (1963) to 77 cents per dollar today (2012). That’s 16 cents. Over 49 years.

So if we don’t have legislation prohibiting companies from advertising “only the employed need apply”, we will trust them that its not hiring discrimination, its just the prerogative of a “buyers market”. And of course they will stop on their own if they get called on it (and continue to quietly sift candidates the same way).

And meanwhile, all this “pretend” class warfare supposedly manufactured by elitist democrats and the Occupy Wall Street folks will sort itself out if we can only get a business friendly Republican in the White House.

Then we will truly be a country run on Shame.

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