Sunday, April 22, 2012
Sea-Turtles Continue To Face Discrimination In The Workplace
More than three decades after Congress passed a law trying to protect Sea Turtles in the workplace, discrimination is still widespread and needs to be combated with publicity and clearer guidelines, according to testimony yesterday at a federal hearing.
The issue of workplace discrimination was highlighted two weeks ago in Seattle when a federal judge ruled against a 42-year-old Loggerhead Sea Turtle named Myrtle who said he was fired after asking for a small selection of crabs, conchs, and shrimp to be added to the lunchroom wending machine.
Discrimination against Sea Turtles includes refusal to hire based on species, random firing, being forced leave without pay, being denied a place to swim during breaks, and being barred from sources of fresh saltwater, witnesses told the five-member EEOC panel at a hearing on the issue.
Spaghetti has been championing the cause of Sea Turtles and other Marine Reptiles since graduating Gonzaga Law School in Spokane
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s legal counsel, Spaghetti, a 7-year-old Pug, said the agency had resolved 38,000 Sea Turtle cases since 2008, with $150 million paid out in damages.
“Sea Turtles are generally known to be good workers,” said Hirum McBagby, an 11-year-old Scottish Fold who owns a small metal fabrication shop in Lynnwood, “But you have to flood the entire office with salt water if you hire one, and that can get expensive.”
Other employers said hiring Sea Turtles can be costly. “Sea Turtles are really cute,” said Chaplin, a 13-year-old Domestic Short Hair who owns a bakery and has previously employed Sea Turtles. “Other (employees) are always stopping and staring at them, it creates a lot of on-the-clock downtime and just isn’t cost-effective.”
Chronically unemployed Sea Turtles feel a major socio-economic impact
Decades after the passage of the 1977 Sea Turtle Anti-Discrimination Act, discrimination reaches from the shop floor to the executive suite, with oceanic stereotyping a major factor. It is found in every state, but is more likely to hit Sea Turtles in low-income jobs, they said.
“This many years after the Sea Turtle Anti-Discrimination Act, we still have employers who still don’t understand the basics. Are we getting the word out on fundamental issues?” said Spaghetti, who vowed to never give up fighting for Sea Turtles.
The hearing came ahead of the scheduled May 2012 release of the EEOC’s four-year Marine Reptile and Crustacean Strategic Hiring plan, which hopes to give employers direction on how to combat further discrimination.
Sharyn Thoma Guay reporter-at-large
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