Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Update on my little Marriage Discrimination Issue

The relocation company contacted me again yesterday to let me know that they do not consider a civil domestic partnership "equal" to a civil marriage license. Consequently, they will not extend to me the additional relocation funds normally offered to married couples.

I don't want to make a bigger deal out of this than it actually is. Unlike the awful Jim Crow-era sign I've included as an image with this post, this issue is relatively minor. However, this situation still smacks of "second-class citizenship."

In its 36-page "Our Values in Action" document, my future employer (I won't give its name, but I can tell you it is a Fortune 100 company as well as one of the thirty companies comprising the Dow Jones Industrial Average) states
We build and maintain a productive, motivated work force by treating all employees fairly and equitably. We respect and recognize the contributions of employees as well as other stakeholders. We will select and place employees on the basis of their qualifications for the work to be performed, considering accommodations as appropriate and needed — without regard to their race, religion, national origin, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, and/or physical or mental disability. We support and obey laws that prohibit discrimination everywhere we do business. [emphasis mine]
These words are striking me as sadly hollow right now.

I have learned my future employer has an employee affinity group for LGBTA employees. Last week I attempted to learn more about this group--partly to ask about the present situation with the relocation company, partly to simply inquire about the general corporate "vibe" towards gay folks. Unfortunately, in response to my request for information about this group (through the corporate website--googling the group did not turn up any external links), I received the following email
Dear [Joe Moderate],

Thank you for contacting the [Western hemisphere HR center for my future employer]. Due to our Privacy Policy, as soon as you become a [future employer] employee you will have access to the "[future employer] at Work" website. There you will find all the information you need about the [LGBTA affinity group].

Best regards,

[corporate HR guy]
Doh! Looks like I can't contact the LGBTA affinity group until after I begin employment. What a weird catch-22.

It looks like I "lose" this round. However, you can bet once I am employed, I will see what I can learn--and maybe change--from the inside. I hope this affinity group doesn't turn out to be a canard.

I feel the need to tread softly about all of this. My position with the company is far from certain. I don't feel any job security to allow me to "rock the boat" at all right now. I don't want to act (or not act) out of fear, but I do want to see changes happen. Maybe I can be a part of making this experience different for LGBT folks my employer will hire in the future.


Ben in Oakland said...

This is a hard one to call. On the one hand, you want the job. On the other, you want them to honor your life and relationship. The quesiton i would ask is this: if they are not willing to honor their commitment to equality now, do you think they will be willing to honor it later? If you are upset about the disparity now, how will you feel later?

I can't answer those quesitons for you, but i personally think it owuld be worthwhile to rock the boat now and take a chance that it might cost you the job, then not to rock the boat and fid that you are forever a seocnd-class citizen, except that you have already moved and uprooted your life.

Joe Moderate said...

I hear you, Ben. These are the same questions I'm wrestling with right now. Thanks for the feedback.

Pomoprophet said...

I think theres a difference between your company doing this and them contracting with a company that is doing this. Ya know? I'm sure your company doesnt know everything about the companies they contract with. They probably just go with teh cheapest price.

Is the moving company really an issue of discrimination or just their regulations and rules not catching up to modern day realities. I do see a difference there.

And dont forget your hubby is not moving with you. So technically they could say you don't qualify anyways.

I dunno. Im not saying they are right and you're wrong. I just think as minorities we have to pick and choose are battles. And being a new employee, is this a hill you want to die on? Or do you want to live to see another day and changes peoples mind because they realize what an amazing guy you are!?!?

Newscrazy said...

This may be more for the protection of the members of the LGBTA group than to try to stop you from getting the information that you need. You never know--this may be a request FROM the LGBTA group.

I contacted Marybeth Lennox, my friend at HRC and asked her to help me get in touch with the staff at the HRC workplace project. They put together all of the corporate equality stuff and they have contacts at thousands of companies--I'm betting they include yours. I am going to get you in touch with someone at HRC's workplace project, and you can work with them to hopefully get a contact at [that one place in that one town]. :-)