It’s seems that Slavin & Sons missed the announcement that we are supposedly living in a post racial world. If you are going to discriminate, you need to do so in the covert manner that has become popular in the rest of the globe. Getting caught with your hands in the cookie jar is a no no because it denies Whiteness reasonable deniability.
According to the EEOC’s suit, some of the owners and managers of M. Slavin & Sons subjected male employees, particularly black employees, including both black Americans and at least one immigrant from Africa, to ongoing harassment. The misconduct included groping their buttocks, putting fish hooks into their buttocks and unnecessarily rubbing their bodies into the employees when passing them by. The owners and managers also made numerous crude, obscene sexual and/or racist comments. One owner used the term “n----r” and another manager made comments such as “African b-----d” and “Let me see you run like you are in Africa.”
The lawsuit also alleges that employees left these positions because of the harassment and that the man who originally complained faced retaliation. To punish him for complaining, the EEOC said, managers instructed other employees not to speak to him, yelled at him when he spoke to others, assigned him more frequently to garbage duty and sent him home when he did speak to others.
It sounds like Slavin & Sons is a charming little business to work for. There is nothing like going to work each day and being reminded that you have no value. Of course, we only recognize this when managers act in covert ways, however; people of color know all to well that their co-workers know exactly where the line is and they frequently dance right up to it. Yes, just far enough so that it is difficult to prove the hostile environment that the workforce is. Isn’t it wonderful that so many large corporations have those wonderful harassment seminars? Now bigots can be certain that their hatred does not go far enough to start a law suite. Just far enough to stress you into an early grave.
With today’s economy being what it is, many will hold on in the face of hostile treatment for fear of losing their jobs. This makes marginalized workers all the more vulnerable to harassment. There are those that will look at the fact that a complaint was filed and see it as a sign that the system works without ever wondering how many people fall through the cracks every single day. If you are undocumented worker how well do complaints the EEOC work for you. Then the issue is not the criminality of the harassment you face but that status of your citizenship.
Racism is an issue in employment because we live in a racist society. Sometimes it manifests in the treatment works allegedly faced by Slavin & Sons and sometimes you don’t even get a change to get your foot in the door period. Various studies have proven that if you have ethnic sounding name that you are less likely to be called for an interview. Asian workers having multiple degrees face challenges because employers believe they don’t have a good grasp of English. Yeah, somehow despite living her for generations so many believe that Asians are recent arrivals to the land of milk and honey.
No matter how many laws are on the books, racism continues to be a pervasive problem socially. The world is only post racial for those that are intent to flex their privilege at the cost of the humanity and dignity of another. Racism is like a disease that daily flourishes and until we are committed to dealing with both the overt and covert methods it will continue to be an evil.