Category: Opinion

Opinion letters
by Various Authors

The AP story below gives the basis for a quick study aimed at answering the tough questions: Who really wins when we allow legislation and the courts to pay the lawyers and clients millions of dollars over alleged discrimination?

Have we gone to the point where it is only possible for a Ford to settle because all costs of resisting are not only expensive but counter productive to itself? Or is that so?

Ford Settles Discrimination Charges

.c The Associated Press

Here is the story that generates the questions in the description. Following the story is one response. You may want to submit another to be shown as well.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Ford Motor Co. is paying $3.8 million in one of the largest settlements with the Labor Department involving discrimination in hiring women or minorities at seven of the company's plants.

Ford has agreed to compensate women and minority applicants for lost wages for entry-level assembly positions at company plants in Louisville, Ky.; Wayne and Sterling Heights, Mich.; Sandusky, Ohio; Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo.; and Norfolk, Va.

Ford also will hire 100 women and minorities from previous applicants for assembly jobs at the plants, according to the consent decree.

It is the fifth-largest settlement by a company with the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance, which oversees federal contractors for compliance with the government's affirmative action and nondiscrimination requirements, officials said Friday. The department can cancel federal contracts with companies that do not comply.

Labor officials said the agreement also ensured that Ford would hire more women and minorities at all its facilities because Ford agreed to employ them in proportion to the percentage that apply.

``It is significant that the company - on a corporate-wide basis - will change its hiring analysis which will open a pipeline of opportunity to women and minorities who have too long been excluded from good paying jobs on the Ford assembly line,'' said Labor Secretary Alexis Herman.

Ford did not admit to any discrimination in the settlement. The company said it wanted to avoid the costs and uncertainties of litigation.

``We want to reestablish a good working relationship with the agency,'' said Ford spokeswoman Della DiPietro. ``We fully share the same goals regarding diversity in the workforce. Prolonged litigation is not in the best interest of our employees or our shareholders or our consumers.''

Most of the money - $2 million - is going to qualified female applicants who were not hired at the Kentucky Truck Plant in 1993, shortly after the facility underwent a major expansion.

At the plant, federal officials identified 318 qualified female applicants who were not hired. Women composed 38 percent of qualified applicants, but only about 25 percent of those hired for the assembly jobs, officials said.

DiPietro said a majority of those 318 female applicants subsequently were hired at the plant.

The other Ford plants are: Michigan Truck Plant; Sterling Axle; Sandusky; Kansas City Assembly; St. Louis Assembly; and Norfolk Assembly.

The consent decree goes into effect today, closing a total of 10 discrimination cases involving Ford that federal officials started at various plants and facilities from 1989 to 1998. There was no formal finding of discrimination at the other three facilities.

The largest Labor Department settlement involving allegations of discrimination by a federal contractor was $14 million paid by Harris Bank of Chicago in 1989.

AP-NY-02-19-00 0924EST

How should America react to this story? What was intended by the author?

How wonderful to read that the legal profession has won another triumph for the poor, downtrodden and depressed that need a powerful government agency to take money from a major corporation that employs tens of thousands and give it to who?
#1 on the list are the lawyers! Then those that did not get employed, for what ever reasons, will share in “most of the money” or two million out of $3.8 million. Since when is less than 54% called “most of the money”?

What has been achieved by this victory of the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance?

1. Well, it is always good for bureaucrats to show that they have a reason for their own jobs! You can be sure that Congress will be told at great expense, to read about this evidence that suggests that this office is greatly needed because Ford settled rather than fight!

2. A second result is that Ford promises to hire from here on a percentage of applicants that equals the size of at least one so-called minority group of applicants- the one easiest to label, of course, is called black or black-Americans. So, if 70% of the applicants are so identified by some calculation, then for some period of time that forces selection to be made so as to make the quota! Of every ten people hired, seven must be of this category!

3. A third result is Ford will no longer be able to hire on the basis of qualification unless the quota has been filled. How long before the deterioration of performance internally will it take before the number of qualified to be employed drops to the point where non-blacks will not apply? Then the quota requirement will reach 100% and reverse discrimination will be total!

Is this good news for America? Does this type of discrimination help build friendship and good will between the individuals who think in terms of race? Years ago it was illegal for people in employment interviewing to keep track of any identifiers that might be called categorizing applicants on the basis of race with a view that such might be used to discriminate against certain so-called minority groups. I say this because, if the truth be known, we all need to recognize that each of us is a minority of one!

There is no practical or good reason to force an employer to hire on the basis of race as defined by the government. The result can only lead to a time when smug administrators of such programs take joy over the increased statistical evidence that show that their program has been successful. If the company plant fails because of it, these regulators will be charging that the plant closed for racial reasons. It will be important that in this case that Ford have a ton or two of documents to prove that such a plant closed only because it could not produce profitably!

Look then for the next piece of social legislation- one aimed at forcing Ford to go on paying all laid off minority workers, even though the plant is closed. Ford may find that cost to again be less costly than to defend itself in litigation that it can’t win. It is cheaper to pass the cost on in the form of higher prices to consumers. We can all cheer the chance to pay more to cover such costs of operation.

There are no obvious winners in this case, unless you think that the lawyers got enough to be in that category; or if you think that the plantiff group got paid something to be called fair 'reparations'?

The losers, however, will be around for a long time. If black unemployed can make this victory work for them, it will turn out that all blacks have to be employed first. All that is required is to apply at as many places as possible and the percentage of applicants will require favoritism that some would label as reverse discrimination.

I do not believe that any person, who regards him or herself as a minority of one, wants to think this way. Not even if one has been lead to think that you have to be part of group that has some convenient label to identify it, especially if it is a 'racial' label that can be used to personal advantage.

I hope that many of such so-called groups will renounce the effort to build such controls into the systems of employment within the U.S. It is not going to improve relationships to have such favoritism in industry.

I am sure that presidential candidates will be asked for their opinion about the case. Most will try to duck the issue. It would be nice if one had nerve enough to cite the factors at work as noted in this article. Such might not work to well in a campaign?

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