How do we enforce equal opportunity laws in the workplace?
I have an idea. A fair one.
Equal opportunity is a benchmark of civil rights. It’s incredibly important for ensuring fairness, and helping correct some of the historic wrongs that have plagued our country. But the current enforcement of these laws is terrible.
Rather than leaving it to a case-by-case litigation basis that usually doesn’t result in any kind of fairness in the process, I’d like to see more active enforcement. It could be through a government agency, or a public-private partnership, but why not have a process for enforcement similar to a secret shopper, or undercover bosses? Send someone in as a new hire, in a way that nobody at the company knows that they’re there to assess. They would need training in determining the difference between social biases and intentional harassment/discrimination, and would be gathering evidence along the way.
After the assessment, the findings would be discussed with the company, and an action plan agreed upon to fix any problems found. If, after a reasonable amount of time, the company has addressed and corrected the issues, they would be offered immunity from prosecution, with the knowledge that future inspections are not only possible but likely.
If the problems are not addressed, all evidence is turned over to the Department of Justice, and prosecution ensues, along with the potential for class action lawsuits, etc.
There’s some research that would need to go into this, and lots of debate and careful consideration so fairness is ensured for both business and citizen, but I think this is the best idea yet for actually enforcing anti-discrimination laws. Obviously, something has to change.