In the latest email newsletter from the White House, they included a link to this video of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefly explaining why a piece of legislature currently in the final stages of being passed is such an overdue addition to the American workplace. This law, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), would ban employers from firing employees with non-traditional beliefs or lifestyles concerning their sexual orientation — the “LGBT” community.
My views on homosexuality are a topic for another blog post(s). Today I will simply share what struck me about this video. While I don’t know the details of ENDA, my first reaction to the possibility of it becoming law was this. Can we really fool ourselves into believing that we could somehow place a legal ban on prejudice? Could we really enforce, via Federal legislature no less, true fairness and nondiscrimination in the workplace? No. First of all, think of the countless instances that will occur once this legislation becomes law of employers trying to fire LGBT employees for valid, performance-related reasons who are then pummeled with lawsuits and legal hoops for being “discriminatory.” Think of LGBT employees who are being handed a “keep your job free” card. NOTE: I’m not implying that LGBT employees would ever treat this piece of legislation that way more than any other employee demographic would. Most would never take advantage of the system. But a few will. In my opinion, this is similar to passing legislation prohibiting employers for firing their employees because I’m blonde. The problem with this type of legislation is this: its ramifications would quickly escalate from “They can’t fire me BECAUSE I’m blonde” to “THEY CAN’T FIRE ME because I’m blonde.” It will become not a check on employers to keep them from acting emotionally and subjectively (rather than objectively) with their employees, but an unreasonable indemnity with which the so-called subjugated demographic could potentially ward off even perfectly legitimate action — for instance, being fired on the basis of poor performance.
My point: you can’t outlaw prejudice. Prejudice exists in the mind and heart. And to try to ban the outward manifestations of prejudice will only cause other problems which our economy really shouldn’t need to deal with.
Perhaps once ENDA goes through, we can enlist its lobbyists to begin a new push for legislation banning anti-blonde discrimination in the workforce.