QUOTE(aevans176 @ Jul 14 2005, 02:42 PM)
I applaud your postivity, but believe that maybe I'm a little more tenured and calloused on topics such as these.
In my personal experience, what I've found is that nearly any labor lawyer and any seasoned HR professional would envoke the "it's cheaper to keep 'em" statement.
Let's say someone in the office was a known homosexual, and performing in a sub-par manner (and trust me... in corporate America, everything revolves around objective documentation
). When it came time for disciplinary action, let's say, and said person began claiming discrimination, would I
pursue further action as confidently as had they not been homosexual?? Probably not. This also applies to nearly any "protected" group. An international company the size of mine is often a target of frivolous suits, unemployment claims, etc. One suit would cost far more money than poor performance... so, in this case, most decision makers prefer to tread lightly.
Well , that in itself is bad management practice, and so if it hamstrings the companies that behave that way, more fool them.
Here in the UK we have, by comparison to the USA (especially those states where businesses can fire people peremptorally without any need or requirement to justify themselves), strict laws that govern firing people.
There are three ways to get rid of people - the first is summary sacking for gross misconduct. This covers the standard offences like stealing from work or from colleagues, turning up drunk or high on drugs, physical assualts on other staff or management or customers, and anything else that the company deems totally unacceptable (most businesses define harassment of other staff as gross misconduct, though they have to be able to prove it if required).
To get rid of people because the business has changed, rather than because of any failing on their part, you have to offer them redundancy. As a minimum, you have to offer to pay them one weeks' wages for every year of service they have put in, up to twelve years i.e. the legal minimum for redundancy is about three month's wages as a lump sum. Since, even with the almost full employment we have here*, it takes an average of 20 weeks to find another job after being made redundant, this helps former employees survive for themselves without becoming dependent on the state.
Lastly, for workers whose performance isn't up the the required standard, there is a well-defined disciplinary procedure. Larger companies (like to one you cite in your example) have people in HR who specialise in employment law and who can advise managers on the correct procedures to go through to sack someone who isn't up to the job. I know this because I used such experts myself to help me with some disciplinary problems I had in my team.
If any of these courses of action are not carefully considered, and backed up with evidence where necessary, then the employee is entitled to take their case to an industrial tribunal, a statutory panel with powers to award compensation for unfair or constructive (basically, where the employee is put in a position where they are forced to resign) dismissal. Sometimes the tribunal can even tell the company they have to give the person their job back, though that doesn't happen all that often, and it usually only takes effect long enough to allow the employer to go through redundancy (and pay people off) like they probably should have in the first place. Here is a link to a government website explaining UK employment law
* Please note - despite all of this "red tape" and "bureacracy" the UK's unemployment rate is low in international terms - 4.7%
- so while these rules might seem "an impediment to capitalism" the UK labour market and wider economy are doing fine, thanks very much.
In my experience as a man manager in the UK, it is not materially harder to fire someone who is bad at their job than I imagine it is in the USA. As much as anything else, the law here forces managers to consider carefully if that is the right course of action - let's be honest, nobody really gets out of bed in the morning with the intention of being the worst person that they can be. More often, people find themselves in jobs they are no good at for a mixture of reasons, some of which usually involve poor training and management from the business, as well as laziness and a bad attitude from the employee. The system here, from a management perspective, is about giving the employee chances to turn themselves around. If they start doing their job propely, then everyone's a winner. If they don't, then by going through the process correctly, the manager has effectviely given the employee enough rope to hang themselves with. Most employees know they are caught out fair and square, and never take their case to a tribunal. And, most employment tribunal judgements that go against the employer do so because the employers has not gone through the process correctly - either by not gathering appropriate evidence, not giving enough time for a turnaround, or (in the cases that make the headlines) by firing someone for the "wrong" reasons (e.g. their race or, in this context, their sexuality).
Now, to the question at hand; I will try to answer from the perspective of Uk labour law so you can see how it might work once these mooted protections are in place... 1. How should minorites that can be visibly identified feel about homosexuals enjoying the same protection?
Homosexuality has been protected from workplace discrimination in the same way that race and disability have for some years now (with the notable and anomalous exception of the Armed Forces). Nobody from a "minority that can be visibly identified" automatically has any particular animus against colleagues whose sexuality affords them some similar protections for that reason alone. Of course, that's not the same as saying "everybody likes gays" - other minorites have no immunity to homophobia, any more than gays have immunity from racism, sexism, and so on. So if similar legislation came into America, I don't think anyone else should bat an eyelid. Except maybe sloppy employers who think that good due diligence in staff management is an unbearable impediment to their business. In my own view, any employer who can't take the time to treat their staff as human beings deserves to have their business suffer.
The rule of thumb is that unless something affects the ability or an employee to meet the needs of his or her employment contract (which, also unlike much of the USA, is a compulsory document for all employees), the business has no business (!) poking around there. 2. How exactly can this be enforced, in that sexual orientation cannot be assessed without actually asking? (Which in turn opens a new question; have you ever seen an application outside of the military that asks about sexual orientation?)
Restrospectively, through something analogous to the employment tribunal service (e.g. some kind of specialist employment court). 3. How will this affect the rest of the American economy (i.e. will it set precedence?) ?
The British example would seem to indicate that it does not have
to affect the wider US economy at all, let alone adversely. I don't think that such legislation is anything particularly to be feared.