Before I go on to another topic, one more about that IBM Japan /EEOC charge I’ve been following. The thing that galls is how an American company operating in Japan, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, takes advantage of contemporary sleazy politics in Washington to get around and get over on fairness in employment laws.
I happened by the EEOC wiki the other day, only to discover that, thanks to the Republican filibuster-ers, the Commission doesn’t have enough members to do much of anything. Five is full strength, and the Commission only has two. The chief, Stuart Ishimaru, is merely “acting” (appointed by the President to head the group, having already been confirmed as a regular member in 2003.) And to top it off, the General Counsel position has been vacant since early 2009.
How does this impact charges involving the big companies? Well, these are the ones the EEOC would be more likely to deal with at a senior level in the Commission. A multinational trying to be “cute” and sending back a bunch of nonresponsive paperwork would probably have their thing sent higher up the pyramid.
Especially dealing with American firms in Japan, where the senior management (that has set themselves up nice for life) hide behind Japanese “culture and traditions” when they flout our civil rights laws, it helps when you have an EEOC at full strength, with an actual General Counsel. Not having the key players in place allows these kinds of firms to sit and flout away, with the excuse that it’s the EEOC that doesn’t have its act together.
This is the insidiousness of Republican Party policies right now. Even though we have a Democratic President and sizable majorities of Democrats in both houses of Congress, the Republicans don’t believe in the EEOC and the laws that created it (the rule of law, basically). So they block the senior staffing of the organization—rendering it impotent.
The EEOC does not have a statute of limitations. I’m not sure I’d want to be some of those IBM Japan expat guys two or three years from now.
[Update: It’s not President Obama’s fault. He’s nominated Georgetown University professor Chai Feldblum, and she got the OK from the Senate Health, Educatiion, Labor and Pensions panel (HELP panel). But religious conservative activists are making a stink about her support of gay rights (gay marriage). So what? This is one vote of five on a commission. People need three to do anything; two, if three is the quorum. And the last I checked, the more liberal party won the 2008 election, so the President has every right to nominate people who are more to the liberal side on issues.
It means we can’t have a functioning government until the Christian rightists agree? Huh? Jeez!]
[Update #2: Here is Jacqueline Berrien, Esq. Nominated by President Obama last July to be the Chair of the Commission. Senate committee gave an approval. No full Senate vote yet.]