by Civil Rights
By Llewellyn H. Rockwell,
days, hiring and firing is more dangerous than a midnight walk in
Central Park. Let an employer dis' the wrong guy, and he faces near
ruin through bias complaints and civil rights lawsuits. If the employee's
lawyer can turn the action into the liberal's favorite, a class
action suit, it threatens bankruptcy.
the record, small businessmen agree that civil rights kills jobs
and entrepreneurship. It's not the quotas these rights imply so
much as the charge of "discrimination." It's an accusation that
can be hurled to terrible effect by nearly everyone, except qualified,
straight, white, abled males.
are most likely to file discrimination complaints when the boss
lets them go. Termination is humiliating, so when the boss fires
us, we want to blame anyone but ourselves. We tend not to walk away
saying, "I've learned a valuable lesson. No more goofing off for
the old days, the free market forced people to pick themselves up,
brush themselves off, and start combing the want ads. These days,
they place a collect call to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
in Washington, D.C. Women charge sex discrimination, blacks charge
racism, and anyone with a limp charges "ableism."
disability guidelines illustrate the problem. Mental illness is,
of course, protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
You cannot fire or refuse to hire a person who is "otherwise qualified"
by the government's loony standards.
what is official mental illness? The EEOC suggests we consult the
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. According to
the DSM, protected symptoms include "confused thinking,"
"consistent tardiness or absences," "lack of cooperation or inability
to work with co-workers," "reduced interest in one's work," and
the ADA, these were reasons for booting a person off the payroll
(unless he happened to work for the federal government). Today,
they bestow rights against employers, rights that sane people do
not have. Nor does it count when ADA-afflicted businessmen themselves
experience symptoms of DSM mental illness: "anxiety, fear,
crazy to think that the authors and enforcers of the ADA are concerned
with quadriplegics. Their real goal is sinister to the core: removing
the vestiges of employers' legal rights. Just as landlords no longer
have an effective legal right to evict non-paying tenants, so employers
cannot shop for the best workers. In this subtle form of socialism,
nearly everyone has a veto over the free choices of the capital
owner. The workplace is ruled by victimocracy.
response of the private sector has been job-bias arbitration contracts.
In many companies, new employees must sign a promise to settle all
job disputes in the private courts that operate according to the
efficient and rational standards of the American Arbitration Association.
If a person is demoted, not promoted, "harassed," or fired, he must
file and settle complaints outside the government court system.
all civil rights laws would be repealed and a free market in labor
restored. Absent that, mandatory arbitration has proven useful in
keeping labor markets somewhat free. Private courts lower costs
for everyone, and prevent the absurdities of class action suits.
The case of Denny's is illustrative. Without ever admitting guilt,
Denny's had to pay a $54 million settlement. Juries too award absurd
is easy to see why 100 large companies have already made the switch,
and thereby avoided arbitrary and capricious government justice.
In five years, half of all employees may be bound by such contracts.
do these contracts circumvent the letter and spirit of civil rights
laws? Of course they do. That's what makes them so admirable. They
restore a modicum of employer autonomy and consumer sovereignty.
rights socialists want an America where employers have no rights,
and any plaintiff hollering "discrimination!" can retire in luxury
(not to speak of his lawyer). They hate arbitration contracts because
they represent market-based authority; only the power of the central
state is to count.
why socialists Russell D. Feingold (D.-Wisc.) in the Senate and
Patricia Schroeder (D.-Col.) in the House have introduced anti-arbitration
legislation. They would forbid obligatory arbitration altogether,
and coerce business back into the government system.
they succeed, the consequences will be horrendous. Until recently
the ADA applied to firms with 25 or more employees. On July 26th,
more than a 100,000 firms with as few as 15 employees came under
as business has found a way to start hiring again, and reestablish
a meritocracy within the firm, Feingold and Schroeder want to reimpose
quotas and government intimidation. Instead of the work ethic, they
favor the robbery ethic.
wonder employers fear to run job ads. They have to hire every applicant
or risk a visit from Janet Reno. So, more and more bosses reveal
new positions only to friends and associates. Liberals say they
don't like the old-boy network. Anti-discrimination law makes it
law is a peculiarly American path to socialism. Like all forms of
socialism, it overthrows the freedoms of association and contract.
How crucial are these to preserving prosperity, liberty, and civilization
itself? Indispensable, as we will see if the central government
gets its way.