Sunday, January 29, 2006

Real Life Experience

My father and I come from opposite ends of the political spectrum. I am on the left, and he is to the extreme right. He has always dismissed discrimination complaints as wild exaggerations from lazy people seeking a free ride. He has no interest in the rights of blacks, jews, women, or gays. Why should he? He is an upper-class, catholic, straight, white male. But something happened to him in his older years, which made him (only for a brief moment) aware of what it's like to be a victim of discrimination, and to see life from another angle. After his retirement and well into his 60's, he applied for a position with a large company. I will not get into the specifics, but he was denied employment and the facts of the case led him to believe that he was a victim of age discrimination. He was infuriated. After all, he had absolutely no control over his age. How could this happen to him? His outrage turned to activism and he filed complaints with both the EEOC and his elected representatives. But his complaints, for the most part, fell on deaf ears. He soon realized that this sort of thing happens, and when it does, there is little that can be done about it, even when there are laws on the books. People dismiss such claims as meritless, even when there is merit. They dismiss victims of discrimination as exaggerators or spiteful people seeking to punish employers for failing to hire them. The fact of the matter is, the EEOC wrapped up his case in a few days. Do you know what they did? They talked to the employer and then rendered their decision. Did they expect the employer to admit they committed age discrimination? Hardly an "investigation" in any sense of the word. I'm sorry my father had to experience this. It sure sucks doesn't it Dad? He still believes height discrimination is ridiculous. But then again, he has never experienced that for himself....

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