Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Why is protecting workers a good idea, again?

Reader's Digest collected a bunch of anecdotes from HR specialists about what it takes get hired, or fired.  A couple of gems: 
“A lot of managers don’t want to hire people with young kids, and they use all sorts of tricks to find that out, illegally. One woman kept a picture of two really cute children on her desk even though she didn’t have children [hoping job candidates would ask about them]. Another guy used to walk people out to their car to see whether they had car seats.” –Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know
“Is it harder to get the job if you’re fat? Absolutely. Like George Clooney’s character said in Up in the Air, ‘I stereotype. It’s faster.’” –Suzanne Lucas, a former HR executive and the Evil HR Lady on bnet.com
“Yes, we do look at your credit as part of our background check. And if you’ve got a bankruptcy or if your credit score is below 650, you’ll have a hard time getting a job. [But] background checks are expensive. Sometimes we bluff, get you to fill out the form, and don’t even run it.” –Cynthia Shapiro
The printed version has more:
"Once your unemployed more than six months, you're considered pretty much unemployable.  We assume that other people have already passed you over, so we don't want anything to do with you." Cynthia Shapiro
"If you're in your 50s or 60s, don't put the year you graduated on your resume." - Rick DeMatteo
"If there was someone we no longer wanted at the company, we'd give him all the worst assignments on impossible deadlines, set him up to fail, and document that.  After  few months, we could safely terminate him." - HR professional in New York City 
It should go without saying that practices such as the ones admitted to by HR professionals are discriminatory or otherwise unfair to the worker.  The bit about checking credit is particularly frustrating for me, as I find the entire concept of using a credit score to determine employment as extremely problematic.  If one has a low credit score, they either have bad or no credit, both of which require a decent income to overcome.  Decent incomes are impossible to earn without a job.  It's like prohibiting people with drug convictions from accessing financial aid.  Not to sound trite, but the system is obviously built to keep working class people down.  

Yay, unions.  Let's keep them around, and fight to protect people who get fired because they tried to organize to protect their rights.  Because, obviously, we need it.