The Moral Argument Against Employment Equity

equityIn Canada, the Employment Equity Act gives preferential treatment to “women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities” when applying for jobs that are federally regulated.1 In other words, preferential treatment is given to anyone who isn’t a white male.

While there is a moral argument to be made for employment equity for persons with disabilities, the Employment Equity Act violates one of the most basic principles of justice: that everyone should be treated equally and not be discriminated against.

The Employment Equity Act is founded upon a premise which is impossible to prove: that economic inequality between different groups in society is primarily due to discrimination. This discrimination is often labelled as institutional racism: unconscious biases that people in power have against minority groups.

While there are no doubt instances where someone in a position of power has a bias against minority groups, there are many other factors that lead to economic inequality including the place a person lives, their education, work experience and work ethic. Because economic inequality is caused by much more than just discrimination, the Employment Equity Act needs to be changed.

The Act’s provision for persons with disabilities is just. For many jobs, a person with a disability can be at a natural disadvantage when competing with an able-bodied person. Consequently, they have more limited job opportunities. As long as a disabled person is qualified for the job they apply for, giving them preferential treatment is a reasonable form of equity.

The problem with the Employment Equity Act is it suspends the Charter right of white males to be treated equally under the law. Giving preferential treatment in hiring to four designated groups results in discrimination against white males, excluding them from job opportunities.

The legislation is founded on the logical fallacy that two wrongs make a right and that the ends justify the means. It tries to remedy the supposed injustice of economic inequality by legalizing another injustice: reverse discrimination.

A double standard is “a rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups.”2 The Employment Equity Act is founded on double standard: Discrimination is unjust but discrimination against white males is not unjust.

A white male seeking a job is not responsible for the historical injustices of the past, or any institutional racism that exists today. If a white male is denied a job for no other reason than the colour of his skin, he is being punished and made a scapegoat for someone else’s crimes. Women, aboriginals, and visible minorities who believe they have been discriminated against should seek remedy through the courts, not by being given preferential treatment when applying for a job.

The Employment Equity Act is Orwellian legislation. In the novel Animal Farm, George Orwell wrote, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”3 The Employment Equity Act makes women, visible minorities and aboriginals “more equal” than white males. In a just society, everyone should be treated equally when they apply for a job.

Notes

  1. Canada, Justice Laws Website. “Employment Equity Act,” http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/e-5.401/page-1.html
  2. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “Double standard,” accessed February 25, 2018, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/double_standard
  3. George Orwell, Animal Farm (Markham, Ontario: Penguin Books Canada Ltd., 1987), 90.

This article was originally published in The Post Millennial.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “The Moral Argument Against Employment Equity

  1. Okay, thanks for clarifying, Sophia. Good to know.

    I’m always open to hearing different points of view on what I post. You are welcome to post further comments, as it may benefit my readers.

    However, I find online debating “stressful” myself and try to avoid it whenever possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wasn’t upset at all, I was excited. I made several points none of which was addressed other than using a quote which is barely anything so, of course, it doesn’t look at all like my points are being addressed. When you make a controversial post, you’re going to get opinions that are not the same as yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think you’ve read a single word I’ve written because you’re not addressing what I’m saying. The fact is that there isn’t better representation or diversity and if we keep treating people “equally” in terms of merit then we exclude many minorities because we don’t have equal levels of education, resources, finance, etc as white males. You can’t treat people “equally” when we are not even equal. We are not equal! We don’t have the same rights! Look at how many black people get shot in America, look at how much Islamophobia is directed at Muslims to the point that there was a Punish A Muslim day where the government did barely anything about it. If we are treated like this on a daily basis, how on Earth are we treated equally when it comes to employment? We are not equal. We do not receive preferential treatment. No, in fact, we often have to work doubly hard to bypass indirect discrimination. In the end, you’re complaining about the same thing that us minorities are complaining about, it’s just now that you’re also on the receiving end, it’s a problem for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Sophia, if employers consider everyone equally, then people are hired based on merit and ability, not according to their membership in a group. If everyone is equal under the law, then hiring decisions should have nothing to do with race or gender.

    Here is another quote to ponder: “When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.” Thomas Sowell

    Like

  5. Thanks, Sophia, for your feedback, and reading my post. Here is a quote to ponder:

    “There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal.” Friedrich Hayek

    Like

  6. It depends on the statistics for employment. We don’t know if minorities are at least being given a chance, and I do believe that there definitely needs to be better representation at work especially in places where there is a severe lack of representation and diversity and a lot of companies don’t address that as well as their websites present themselves to do. I once worked at a company where I was the only non-Caucasian person there and people of my ethnicity are found in abundance in the NHS, usually in administration roles. So, no, I disagree until I see better representation given in non-administration and doctoral roles. For all the Equality Act and discrimination laws in practise, institutional and indirect discrimination is difficult to prove so we need acts like this but in so far as their workability, we don’t know for sure how far it goes to address this issue. We don’t have the educational advantages, and this is also where some white males may also fall short too because not all white people belong to the middle-class. Until we can balance this effectively, working-class people will always belong to the disadvantaged category.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Same in Pennsylvania. We’ve been outsourced to India, where sweat shop types are doing our computers programing. Then they flooded the rest of the company with H1Bs from India. They keep the women, whether they’re competent or not, keep Gays whether they’re competent or not, but white males must go. Then since they can’t do the creative programming needed that those fired used to do, they just drop the products. Really screwing the customers & employees.
    When they make bad business decisions they just fire a bunch of people to keep their stock prices up.

    Animal Farm is a terrific read, I recommend it highly.

    Liked by 2 people

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s