Discriminating Against the Unemployed

Since this blog was written, President Barack Obama in September 2011 sent a new bill to Congress that incorporates a provision that employers may not refuse to hire persons on the basis of their being unemployed. 

Fair Employment Act of 2011

July 14, 2011 – Kudos to U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Hank Johnson, D-Ga., who have  introduced legislation that would block employers from discriminating against out-of-work applicants.

The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, H.R. 2501, would keep both employers and recruiters from refusing to consider unemployed workers for available positions, and  from including language in any job postings indicating that the unemployed should not apply, the representatives said in a statement.

It is morally reprehensible that employers discriminate against unemployed people.  Workers may have good reason to quit their jobs or they can be fired through no fault of their own.    At present there is no law that specifically addresses workplace bullying, which overwhelming research shows causes the target to suffer potentially serious physical and psychological damage.

A 2007 poll by Zogby International on behalf of the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 64 percent of targets of workplace bullying quit or are fired.  When employers are notified of bullying, most (62%)  do nothing or make matters worse. Why? The vast majority of bullies are bosses (72%) who enjoy support from executive sponsors, peers and human resources.

Specifically, the proposed law would make it illegal for employers and employment agencies to do things like:

  •  consider unemployment status and history in making hiring decisions;
  • publish in job posting that unemployed workers can not apply; and
  • block unemployed people from accessing information about job openings.

The only time it would be lawful for an employer to consider the unemployment status or history of applicant is “where an individual’s employment in a similar or related job for a period of time reasonably proximate to the hiring of such individual is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to successful performance of the job that is being filled.”


Horrible Bosses (Not the Movie!)

Survey finds almost half of employees have worked for unreasonable managers

A new movie is being released this month, a dark comedy called “Horrible Bosses,”  in which three workers plot to kill their employers.

In real life,  a new survey  shows that almost half (46 percent)  of employees say they have worked for an unreasonable manager and it’s no laughing matter. Thirty-eight percent of the workers said they ended up quitting their jobs.

The survey results were announced on July 5, 2011 by OfficeTeam, which specializes in the placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals. OfficeTeam states in a press release that the survey was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 441 workers 18 years of age or older and employed in an office environment.

Workers were asked, “Have you ever worked for an unreasonable boss?”  Their responses:






Workers who have had an unreasonable boss also were asked, “How did you respond?” They said:

Stayed put but tried to deal with the issue


Quit my job eventually once I had another job lined up


Stayed put and suffered through the torment


Quit my job immediately without having another job lined up


Don’t know/no answer



OfficeTeam identified five types of “challenging bosses”: the micromanager, poor communicator, bully, saboteur and the “mixed bag” who has unpredictable moods.

Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam, said individuals are often promoted because they excel in a given job but “that doesn’t mean they have the skills to be effective leaders.”

Bully Judge Clueless for Decade?


Update: Judge Fuller declared on June 20, 2011 that he will  retire from the bench, rather than continue working under strict supervision until the mandatory retirement age of 70.  The state Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that Judge Fuller had to retire unless he agreed to undergo a six-month suspension followed by strict probation for misconduct that included mistreating lawyers, court personnel and others. Fuller claimed he could not afford the cost of the suspension and probation, which he estimated to be $174,000. He says he will start working as an attorney in July. PGB

April 28, 2011 – The South Dakota Supreme Court is considering whether to return suspended 7th Circuit Judge A.P. “Pete” Fuller to the bench after complaints that amount to bullying.

In a plea to keep his job, Fuller, 68, said “I am ashamed … My conduct and actions have affected people I love and respect.”

According to the Rapid City Journal, Fuller’s tearful demeanor was a sharp contrast to the irreverent, caustic description painted by the findings of Judicial Qualifications Commission that has asked the state’s top court to remove or retire an elected judge for the first time in its 121-year history.

The Journal says that an investigation and transcripts of two closed-door hearings of the commission record the testimony of several people who described Fuller’s behavior as verbally abusive, sometimes profane and often biased, both in formal court setting and at other times.

Court documents state Fuller gave one attorney the ” bird” and publicly referred to juvenile court as “little prick day.”

During the hearings, Fuller acknowledged that some of his conduct was inappropriate but denied other allegations, including his alleged use of profanity in front of clerks of court.

Fuller said he had enrolled in anger-management classes and now understood that others perceived his irritation and annoyance with situations as “anger and rudeness and abrasiveness, and I believe somebody even said bullying.”

“It never dawned on him that he was mistreating people,” said one of two lawyers representing Fuller.

Much of the inappropriate conduct that Fuller is accused of was never dealt with during his 10 years on the bench, and he received no feedback suggesting that his conduct was inappropriate, Fuller’s other lawyer said.

In response, Attorney Michael Schaffer, who represented the commission said:

He got feedback when deputy clerks ran out of the courtroom in tears.”

“This inquiry … comes down to Judge Fuller’s conduct. The conduct of Judge Fuller basically concerns his treatment of people in his court and his treatment of people as a judge,” Schaffer said.

Fuller’s lawyers are attempting to portray the matter as having political undertones, while stressing the importance of an independent judiciary.  Fuller allegedly referred to law enforcement officers as a “bunch of racists” during a juvenile hearing, prompting complaints from law enforcement and prosecutors.

– PGB (barnespatg@gmail.com)

See The Rapid City Journal story: http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/article_d6f3ac0e-71c7-11e0-883c-001cc4c002e0.html.

‘Queen Bee’ Boss is Obstacle to Other Women

What follows are excerpts from a study by psychologists at the University of Cincinnati concluding that female ‘Queen Bee’ bosses tend to be “cogs in the machine” to other women in the workplace.According to the researchers, a female boss is more likely to wreck a woman’s promotion prospects in male-dominated environments and men who report to a female manager get much more mentoring and support than their female colleagues. The researchers say that women who manage to break the glass ceiling may not want competition from other women and/or may want to blend in as much as possible with their male counterparts.  The excerpt is from:  Maume, David J. ,  Meet the new boss…same as the old boss? Female supervisors and subordinate career prospects,  Social Science Research Volume 40, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 287-298.

… Drawing a 2002 national sample of non-managerial workers, men exceeded women in receiving job-related support from female supervisors and were more optimistic about their promotion chances as a result. Although cross-sectional data precludes drawing firm conclusions regarding processes that occur over-time, the results are consistent with the notion that female managers are cogs in the machine, in that female supervisors have little or no effect on the career prospects of female subordinates, and instead foster men’s career prospects.

… when women attain jobs paying wages similar to men’s, informal workplace dynamics are unleashed that seek to restore men’s more privileged position in the workplace. These processes include isolation and exclusion from informal networks and professional growth opportunities ([Purcell, 2007] and [Reskin et al., 1999]), ratcheting up job demands to determine if women will put work ahead of family life as men do ([Fried, 1998] and [Hochschild, 1997]), and harassment of a general and/or sexual nature ([Acker, 1990] and [Roscigno, 2007]). The cumulative effect of these informal processes is that women’s work effectiveness is compromised, increasing the likelihood that they will either quit their jobs or be fired.

Given gendered informal dynamics that are pervasive in the workplace, some contend that female bosses either lack the power to impede organizational preferences to foster men’s careers, or that female bosses agree with negative stereotypes of female workers ([Cooper, 1997] and [Deaux, 1985]; Wajcman, 1998). And of course, female supervisors may themselves be the victims of informal processes to marginalize them and compromise their effectiveness ([Kanter, 1977] and [Fried, 1998]). In either case, when subordinates report to female supervisors, they may not perceive them to be any different from male bosses who give male subordinates more attention and more chances for promotion as way to advance their own careers. If so, female subordinates will be more likely to quit out of frustration or be fired, even though they may hold jobs paying wages similar to men’s. Jacobs (1989) characterized this process as one of “revolving doors,” in which women enter high-paying male-typed jobs only to exit these jobs later. This dynamic could reconcile the apparent inconsistency between studies reporting an association between more female managers and a lower gender wage gap, and this study’s finding that men’s, but not women’s, career prospects are enhanced when reporting a female superior.

… Despite these caveats, this study is the first representative analysis of how subordinate career prospects are affected by directly reporting to a female supervisor. The results are consistent with much research showing that workplaces are pervasively male-oriented in their customs, policies, and structures, and that female bosses are no different from male bosses in reacting to organizational preferences to invest in men’s careers more so than women’s. Additional research is needed on the organizational mechanisms fostering or impeding women’s ascendance to supervisory positions in order to assess progress toward the goal of affording men and women equal opportunity to exercise managerial authority. Yet, irrespective of what future studies of managerial attainment show, those who expect that female bosses will dramatically change the nature of superior-subordinate relations are likely to be disappointed.