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The unintended consequences of the '91 civil rights legislation

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The paper can be downloaded to read here

Here is an overview. 


Mickey Kaus, in linking to this post below (thanks, Mickey!), asks:

If a Hispanic who has performed as poorly and prominently as Patti Solis Doyle can’t be fired without her employer getting grief from Hispanic leaders, isn’t that a pretty big disincentive to hiring a Hispanic in the first place? Message: Stick to white males — if they screw up, you can sack them and nobody will whine.

Actually, that disincentive and that “message” have long been recognized as one of the costs of civil rights enforcement.

A classic example is the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which made it easier for disappointed job seekers to file “disparate impact” claims based on statistical evidence and increased the money-damage awards to plaintiffs.

In this excellent 2003 article, Stuart Taylor Jr. discusses a study by a Stanford economist and a Northwestern management professor, among other evidence, indicating that the 1991 law made “employers in traditionally white-male industries marginally less likely to hire minorities and women.”

How could the risk of high damage awards for discriminating against minorities and women make employers more hesitant to hire them? Because employers know that far more lawsuits are brought, and far greater damages are awarded, for claims of discrimination in firing than in hiring. So the risk of being sued for turning down a minority or female applicant is dwarfed by the risk of being sued later for firing the same applicant after giving him or her a try.

“The increases in potential damage awards,” write Oyer and Schaefer, “coupled with a decades-long trend toward firing-based, and away from hiring-based, employment-discrimination litigation, means the main impact of the act was to increase the costs to employers of dismissing protected workers…. Because [an employer] feels firing-based costs only if it decides to hire, the costs act as an implicit tax on such hiring. Firing-based protections may therefore lead employers to hire fewer protected workers, not more.”

Nor, Taylor continues, were these results unanticipated.

…. In a Stanford Law Review article half a year before Congress passed the legislation, Stanford Law School professor John J. Donohue III and co-author Peter Siegelman documented a major shift in the nature of job-discrimination lawsuits—as well as a spectacular increase in their number—since 1970: “While most cases formerly attacked discrimination in hiring, today the vast majority of all litigation suits challenge discrimination in discharge.” And although the 1964 Civil Rights Act was extremely valuable in breaking down the flagrant discrimination in hiring then practiced by many employers, the authors wrote, the “dramatic shift to firing cases has greatly increased the likelihood that Title VII will create a drag on the hiring of protected workers rather than the positive inducement it originally provided.”

Note that Taylor did not recommend (and, for what it’s worth, neither do I) that Congress eliminate damages for discriminatory firing, “[e]ven if the costs of such lawsuits to minorities and women, not to mention employers, have come to exceed their benefits….”

Racial discrimination is wrong, but that doesn’t mean we should refuse to see the costs of eliminating it. And it is always useful to be reminded that efforts to do good, especially when the power of the state is enlisted in the cause, often do both more and less than the good intended.

Minnow Slayer

by on Aug. 17, 2013 at 7:50 AM
Replies (71-73):
stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Aug. 19, 2013 at 9:06 AM
So you are making up a reason to not hire black people or any protected group in the first place? And yet you don't seem ti understand why the eeoc is needed. Wow that is some screwed up logic.
WesternNYmom
by Silver Member on Aug. 19, 2013 at 9:23 AM


I agree, It was mostly the young just out of highschool, I am going to take whatever job I can get until something better comes along, caucasian, men who did all the crying about being discriminated against at the Human Services agency I used to work for.  One guy in particular, had a file full of write ups for violations of the agency's policies, that was 3 inches thick.  He was always late for his shifts at the group homes he worked at. He would go against company policy, and nap on the job during the midnight shift (someone could have had a medical emergency in the middle of the night and he wouldn't have known about it until it was too late).  He also frequently failed to show up for manditory  weekly staff meetings, and regularly schedualed trainings.  Somehow this jerk was able to keep his job. One day he was transfered to  the department that I worked in, where staff were required to travel to individual houses and appartment to work will individuals who could live on their own or disabled children who live with their parents.  This jackass never showed up on time. Refused to do any of the required work when he got to the residence, and repeatedly left early without explanation.   Parents and the clients themselves were constantly calling to complain about him and his unprofessional attitude.  Even the rest of the staff, myself included wanted him to be let go.  One day he failed to show up for one of his contacts, and he was fired.  The next day, he showed up at the agency's main office to demand his job back. The director laughed in his face, and showed him the door. This loser threatended to sue claiming he was wrongly fired and wasn't given the chance to explain why he didn't show up for his shift.    He didn't have a leg to stand on as the employee handbook (everyone got a copy when they were hired) clearly stated that anyone who fails to show up for a shift without notifying the supervisor or having a good excuse ( went to the er and produced a sighned note from a physician stating what the person was being treated for), would be terminated immediately without a formal warning.  He never filed the suit, and we were glad to be rid of him.

Quoting RandRMomma:

Documentation is key. I have never experienced anything like this in the work place. As a matter of fact, I think that it would be safe to say that most employees do not know about these laws. People of all races sue for BS reasons all of the time. The situations like the ones that have been described in this thread are rare, IMO.

I am sick and tired of some people coming up with BS reasons as to why they think minorities do XYZ when white people do the same damned things.



RandRMomma
by Maya on Aug. 19, 2013 at 9:45 AM
Oh wow. What an irresponsible jackass. It's good that you all had the proper documentation. If he had sued, he would have lost.

Quoting WesternNYmom:


I agree, It was mostly the young just out of highschool, I am going to take whatever job I can get until something better comes along, caucasian, men who did all the crying about being discriminated against at the Human Services agency I used to work for.  One guy in particular, had a file full of write ups for violations of the agency's policies, that was 3 inches thick.  He was always late for his shifts at the group homes he worked at. He would go against company policy, and nap on the job during the midnight shift (someone could have had a medical emergency in the middle of the night and he wouldn't have known about it until it was too late).  He also frequently failed to show up for manditory  weekly staff meetings, and regularly schedualed trainings.  Somehow this jerk was able to keep his job. One day he was transfered to  the department that I worked in, where staff were required to travel to individual houses and appartment to work will individuals who could live on their own or disabled children who live with their parents.  This jackass never showed up on time. Refused to do any of the required work when he got to the residence, and repeatedly left early without explanation.   Parents and the clients themselves were constantly calling to complain about him and his unprofessional attitude.  Even the rest of the staff, myself included wanted him to be let go.  One day he failed to show up for one of his contacts, and he was fired.  The next day, he showed up at the agency's main office to demand his job back. The director laughed in his face, and showed him the door. This loser threatended to sue claiming he was wrongly fired and wasn't given the chance to explain why he didn't show up for his shift.    He didn't have a leg to stand on as the employee handbook (everyone got a copy when they were hired) clearly stated that anyone who fails to show up for a shift without notifying the supervisor or having a good excuse ( went to the er and produced a sighned note from a physician stating what the person was being treated for), would be terminated immediately without a formal warning.  He never filed the suit, and we were glad to be rid of him.


Quoting RandRMomma:

Documentation is key. I have never experienced anything like this in the work place. As a matter of fact, I think that it would be safe to say that most employees do not know about these laws. People of all races sue for BS reasons all of the time. The situations like the ones that have been described in this thread are rare, IMO.



I am sick and tired of some people coming up with BS reasons as to why they think minorities do XYZ when white people do the same damned things.




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