AA in action (The Daniel Lamp Company)

Topics: AA
24 Mar 1991


This story was on "60 Minutes" tonight. A Caucasian fellow runs a small
company in Chicago that manufactures lamps. Depending on business he has from
20 to 40 employees. All of them are either Hispanic or Black except for the
owner and two of his relatives. The company is located in a Hispanic
neighborhood and most of employees are Hispanic.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC, fined the owner $140,000
for discrimination. Why? Because a Black lady complained to the EEOC that she
was denied a job on racial grounds. The EEOC found that the owner could not
prove he didn't discriminate, eight years after the fact (burden of proof is
severely backward here too), and that at the time the company did not employ
"8.54" Blacks. 8.54 out of X was supposedly the average number of Blacks
employed by other businesses in the 'community'. The community was of course
left for the EEOC to define. 60 minutes asked the EEOC if this was not in fact
a quota. The spokesman said: no, this was not a quota at all it was merely an
average that was used to prove discrimination. Excuse me?!? The owner said the
employees come and go as business improves or worsens, with only 20 employees,
less than 8 of them being Blacks is just a random thing.

Not only must he pay a fine, but he must pay most of the money to the
person who filed the complaint, i.e. pay her not to work. Also, he must take
out an advertisement in the local paper saying that he discriminated and anyone
who applied for a job with his company is free to sue (so they can be paid for
not working too). The owner claims that having to pay the fine (it's currently
tied up in court) would put him out of business.

Who loses:
1) The owner, because he will be forced out of business
2) His minority employees
3) The taxpayers who will pick up the burden of:
a) lost taxes from this business
b) more people on the dole
c) paying the kooks at the EEOC

Who wins:
1) The gal who is paid for not working
2) AA supporters who can now feel they have made society a fairer place.

I contend that this sort of egregious behavior is not an aberration of the
system but is the ultimate result of any attempt of this sort, with ill defined
purposes and ill defined goals. Chau-Wen often argues for 'flexibility'. At
one point he suggested the best way to implement AA would be test each
individual case on its own merit. This is what happens if such a policy is
implemented. The other possibility is to have a more rigid system where the
rules are understood, i.e. an explicit quota. That would actually be better
than the current system though its inequities would be clearer.