The Luxury of Objection, Part 2

…Where was I? Yes, the Franken Amendment.  It didn’t rewrite any contracts. It didn’t invalidate any laws. It simply said, no government contracts (that is, none of my money and your money) to companies that force their employees to sign binding arbitration agreements in which the employee had to waive the right to sue on for claims of sexual assault, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, retention and supervision. For those of you that don’t know, the latter three are claims you would see when, say, an employer hires someone to be a delivery person who has 8 DUIs and then one day gets drunk and mows down a bunch of people while driving the company van.  The amendment also covers civil rights claims of workplace discrimination.

And, as most of us know, this Amendment comes in the wake of the the gang rape and false imprisonment of 19 year old Jamie Lee Jones. Who, though she may eventually be able to get redress in court, was forced into arbitration by her employer. Notably, DOD said they couldn’t prosecute the perpetrators because of the arbitration provisions.

The way I see it is that there are 3 groups of people who have some legitimate interest in this legislation. First, women. Women specifically who work in these positions have very damn obvious safety and security issues vested, as well as Constitutional rights against discrimination and, well, the right to not get raped and/or the power to bring suit against those who are responsible for the rape (and please, don’t give me a bunch of shit about why should the employer be responsible for rape. They are, and if you have a problem with that, maybe you should work for Halliburton).  Women in general also have vested liberty and property interests in this bill, as the arbitration provisions are clearly discriminatory in effect and it would really be nice to know that Congress gives a fuck about this and is sending a message to employers that this shit is NOT okay.

Who else has a dog in this fight? Businesses. Businesses have financial interests in this bill because, as I mentioned above, businesses like arbitration because, long story short, it puts/leaves more money in their pockets. Who else? Legislators, obviously, have professional (non-personal) interests involved. Likewise, legal professionals have indirect and personally neutral interests at play, because they practice in these areas and need to know the laws, but unless they are females or own/run businesses in addition to the lawyering, they don’t have vested personal interests. And I am sure there are probably some more folks with indirect and non-personal interests in this bill, but you get my point. While women, businesses, legislators, and lawyers certainly constitute a large number of folks, there are still a LOT of people that do not truly have any actual interest in this bill.

Which FINALLY brings me to my point. If you don’t have a direct and personal interest in this bill – specifically, if you are not a person whose rights are directly impacted by this sort of shit – how absolutely lucky you are. Do you realize how nice it would be to just be able to go to work and live your life, without having to worry about all the “other” shit?

How awesome is it to know that you will get hired when you are qualified?  To get paid more than other people doing the same work? How great to know that if you just do your job, you will be a valued employee and get raises and promotions based on your merit, and will mentored and will move up the ladder quickly. You will always be invited to events with the bosses, no one will make crude jokes about you to your clients or your co-workers, and you don’t have to worry about getting raped on the job.

I am not saying you don’t deserve this – hell, we all deserve this. No one is trying to take anything away from you.

I am just saying that having a little care for those who are NOT so lucky might be the decent thing to do.  When you form an opinion on an issue that directly affects the rights of other people, and does not do ANYthing to threaten your own well-insulated rights, at least take the time to learn about the situation. Because, you see, while you have the luxury to sit back and pontificate on the “abstracts” of these issues, many people do not.  These people are ACTUALLY affected by your opinion.  Really, truly, fucked-up affected by it.  You – your opinions and your votes – can either take things away from REAL people or keep them out of their reach, or you can help them get the actual, substantive meaningful rights THAT YOU ALREADY HAVE.

This isn’t just-sittin-around-havin-a-beer-and-talkin-smart about nebulous potentials. What you say and think and talk about and vote for affects other people. If you have taken the time to educate yourself on the matter, and still feel – for whatever reason – that you must come down on the other side, then that is certainly your right. But know that you have the luxury to think about such things as semantics, sub-contractors, trial attorney rates, and a whole host of other nitpicky, substantively meaningless things because YOU don’t have to worry about getting sexually harassed or raped at work.

And it costs you NOTHING to share this luxury with everyone.

The Luxury of Objection, Part 1

So, I have been thinking a lot about the Franken Amendment.  More specifically, I have been thinking about the people that oppose it. Not just those that voted against it and the DoD, but also the general citizenry who believe that this Bill should not be passed. And yeah, I know that followers of Hannity don’t necessarily represent the “general citizenry,” but they seem to do a fine job of representing the people that have decided it is absolutely necessary that they oppose the bill. Because this exemplifies something that greatly confounds me.

So, the Franken Amendment, for those of you that don’t really know, is a policy mandate that would prohibit DoD from entering into contracts with companies that require their employees to sign some pretty major arbitration agreements.  An arbitration agreement, for those of you that don’t know, is a contract between an employer and an employee wherein the employee agrees that in the event that something happens to them while they are in the active employ of their employer, employee agrees to waive his/her rights to sue employer and instead agrees to submit to binding arbitration.

Arbitration, for those of you that don’t know, is a non-judicial process where A and B meet with an arbitrator, who reviews the situation and enters a final and legally binding decision.  That is it – the end. No review, no appeal, no day in court, no jury, no accountability, no press, no right to discuss, no ability for judicial execution and enforcement, and no publicity.  But, despite what some of the tools in Congress are saying, this doesn’t mean ‘no lawyers.’  It also doesn’t mean it is less expensive.

And let me break it on down for you a little further. No matter how much people spin this, it is EMPLOYER-FRIENDLY. Yeah, it may have some benefits for the employee, but it is SO SO SO much better for employer than actual court, while actual court would almost always be better for the employee. Employers use these agreements to effective limit/remove their liability for everything from discrimination claims to assault.  If you think these are a good thing for employees and just a nice service that employers offer (how it is often spun to employees) then ask yourself this – why are employers so hot to get their workers to sign them? Because it is BETTER for the employer and WORSE for the employee.

So, you may ask, why in the HELL would an employee sign such a thing? Well, it isn’t like they have a choice. If they are not required to sign one at hiring, chances are at some point they will have one presented to them and will be given the hard sell on why they are so awesome for employees and how nice the employer is to provide such a service, and how they don’t have to sign, but if they want to keep working, they will need to sign it.  And meanwhile, employer is shitting bricks waiting to make sure that the pregnant woman signs it so that they can tell her they cut her pay.

But so what, you say, if you don’t like it, then find another job.  Really? Fuck you. If the Constitution gives us the right to seek legal redress, and Congress has given us a framework of laws and regulations to protect us, the why in the hell is it okay for an employer to effectively force you to waive all of that? It isn’t. But so long as anti-employee groups like the Chamber of Commerce are around and pouring money into the political coffers, Congress and the courts will allow these things. But I digress…