Re: Workplace Discrimination

Subject: Re: Workplace Discrimination
From: John Hedtke <jhedtke -at- OZ -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 1996 20:08:12 GMT

Tim Altom <taltom -at- iquest -dot- net> wrote:

>At 08:40 AM 3/19/96 -0600, you wrote:
>Nope, never had that question, but I'd be surprised if I had. By the same
>token, I'm not surprised that you got it, and for a twisted but legitimate
>reason.

>In most families, the wife is usually stuck with handling the kid-chores. Of
>course there are exceptions, but they test the rule, they don't dismantle
>it. Men know this. Many of us aren't proud of it, but we're all aware of it.
<snip>
>Therefore, there is strange and twisted legitimacy to the prospective
>client's question. He knows that if there's a sick kid in the house, you may
>well get stuck with it.
<snip>
>Was he morally or legally in the wrong for saying that to you? Well,
>legally, he was dealing with another company, not a prospective employee, so
>the law is much laxer than it might be otherwise. As for morally, that's in
>the eye of the beholder. As a businessperson myself, I can see his point,
>although I think it's a specious one and not one I'd bring up. But if you're
>a solo practitioner (and I assume you are) then you'll have to learn to live
>with these sorts of checklist items. After all, if you're the only one
>working on his manual, and you get hit by a falling tree, he's out of luck,
>whereas a larger company has backups and safeguards. If you're willing to
>team up with a couple of other people, then you'll have an argument when
>somebody throws out that statement. Just tell him that you're backstopped
>and that even if the kids are sick, you're covered. That removes it from the
>realm of political correctness and plants it firmly into sales and business.

Tim, I'm impressed with your argument. Not at all thrilled, but I am
indeed in awe of it. I was unaware that it was possible in the 90's
to rationalize this situation, and I certainly didn't know there were
people who'd still say things like that in public and risk the
reaction of looking like a complete and utter git. Bravo.

As a manager of several Technical Publications departments (and
frequent hirer of contractors), the issue of kids/household
duties/home life in general never came up at any time during hiring,
for the following reasons:

1. It's illegal.
2. It's unethical.
3. It's actionable.
4. It's inappropriate.
5. It's irrelevant.
6. It's none of my effing business as a manager.

When I hire someone, I hire them to do a job. If they can do it,
great. If they can't, we'll talk. Their home life is not my concern
unless and until it affects their ability to do the job. Never
before.

Yours Truly,

John Hedtke


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