Archive for Friday, February 1, 2002

You should care

February 1, 2002

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To the editor:

The Langston Hughes centennial celebrations remind me that during these past 100 years, we have progressed little in reforming our society to eliminate prejudices and hatreds. Sure, today fewer people would take overt action against a person because of their sex or race, but just how many people do you think it takes to ruin someone's life? In fact, it takes only one person if all others ignore what that person is doing.

Across the country, in workplaces such as KU, too many people including many "good" people sit back silently and watch as a few others subtly but passionately engage in the idealogical crusade against equal opportunity and enforcement of civil rights laws. Even though their own employment records reflect significant continuing discrimination in employment and promotion, employers deny the discrimination and the retaliation against the victims, arguing that the victims themselves actually caused it or deserved it, that it's simply in their imagination, or that there are acceptable "degrees" of discrimination and retaliation that don't rise to a level of reprehensible or illegal conduct.In the case of Dr. Ray Pierotti and my own case, KU has even tried to avoid legal liability by saying we're not really minority people.

Take, for example, KU's appeal of the jury verdict from Dr. Marie Aquilino's trial. KU didn't even try to deny that Dr. Aquilino was retaliated against. Instead, they successfully argued on appeal that the jury's verdict should be ignored because the retaliation wasn't actually bad enough to warrant penalties against them or restitution for her. The people who retaliated remain safely and securely in their positions. Employers are empowered by such reactionary legal decisions to continue to attack and persecute the victims while protecting and defending people who commit blatant acts of discrimination, retaliation, and fraud.

Why should you care? Because if you're disabled, a veteran, a minority person, a woman or even a white male past the age of 40 the civil rights laws protect you. If you allow those laws to be nullified, you'll be sorry when you find yourself the victim.

Mike Cuenca,

Lawrence

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