One of the Year's Most Distasteful Activities

The government just sent me a letter informing me that it is time, in the name of creating a race-blind society, to categorize all my employees by race, count them up, and report everyone's color to the government.

As an aside, I found this bit of privacy reassurance to employees to be pretty funny.  This is suggested language for an employer to use when asking, "um, by the way, can you tell me what race you are?"**

"The employer is subject to certain governmental recordkeeping and reporting requirements for the administration of civil rights laws and regulations. In order to comply with these laws, the employer invites employees to voluntarily self-identify their race or ethnicity. Submission of this information is voluntary and refusal to provide it will not subject you to any adverse treatment. The information obtained will be kept confidential and may only be used in accordance with the provisions of applicable laws, executive orders, and regulations, including those that require the information to be summarized and reported to the federal government for civil rights enforcement. When reported, data will not identify any specific individual."

So the private data you share will only be used if Congress writes a law, the President issues an executive order, or a bureaucrat writes a rule saying they can use it.  And this is comforting?  Our President claims the right to assassinate Americans by executive order, for God sakes, and this paragraph makes people feel better about categorizing themselves with the government in ways that, in the past, have been used by numerous governments in a variety of pogroms.

 

** I do not allow my supervisors to even ask.  We just do our best from our knowledge of all the employees.  My vision of the relationship I have with my employees does not include inquiring about their race (or religion, or sexual orientation) in an official capacity.  It also, does not encompass testing their bodily fluids, which is why I refuse to bid on management contracts that require drug testing of our employees.

 

  • thegameiam

    I used to answer these types of questions with reasonably accurate answers. Lately, I have taken to outright refusal - I either "decline to state" or select "other", and use "human" whenever possible.

  • Aric Czarnowski

    Thanks for doing what you're doing for your employees. I've appreciated my company's attempts to shield me from contractual obligations with clients which tie us into their employee screening practices. Most of them horrendous invasions, especially considering "does it work" is the only contractual obligation that really matters.

    Not that everybody here gets the same considerations. Somebody always ends up putting their name on those contracts. Poor sacrificial lambs.

  • Jay Dee

    Actually, a very liberal Minneapolis columnist provided the answer to this. A white man of Norwegian heritage, he always claims he is African American on the basis that "Science" tells us that humans originated in Africa. By this virtue, we are all African Americans regardless of our skin color & provenance.

  • Steve D.

    What the government requires you to do in the US, is illegal in Canada.

  • http://twitter.com/tjic tjic

    > My vision of the relationship I have with my employees does not include inquiring about their race (or religion, or sexual orientation) in an official capacity. It also, does not encompass testing their bodily fluids, which is why I refuse to bid on management contracts that require drug testing of our employees.

    Awesome.

  • David

    Since it is voluntary why don't you just say that no one volunteered their ethnicity.

  • glenn.griffin3

    I don't suppose you could have filled out the form with "336 Americans, 2 foreign nationals with work Visas" ?

    I get my jollies filling in Other/American. But I don't run an auditable business.

  • Mark2

    Unfortunately when you do this, HR departments now instruct their representative to eyeball you and make the determination themselves. I like the African American Idea from Above.

  • Mom Meyer

    Good for you. I'm proud of you.

  • Mark

    Because that is to allowed.

  • MisterDamage

    I
    prefer "martian"

  • Matt

    "I refuse to bid on management contracts that require drug testing of our employees."

    You are now officially one of my heroes. Thank you.

  • Larry Sheldon

    When I was in management at the telephone company I had to do this, but we were forbidden to keep records, to ask OR TO SPECULATE on race and so on.

  • Larry Sheldon

    It is illegal here too.

  • Craig Loehle

    In the bad old days, the test for whether you were black or not was the brown bag test--if you were lighter than a grocery bag you could pass (if you could tame your hair) for white. Now it is self-identification. What % of blood makes you a particular race? In a time where people are beginning to get over it the government wants to enforce quotas. Do we count people with 4 racial backgrounds as fulfilling 4 quotas, or only 1/4 of a person in each? Or since some white blood they don't count?
    Insane.

  • Ted Rado

    Every time I think we have seen the pinnacle of USg absurdity, they surprise me with a new one. At leat they are inventive!

  • Jared

    Simple - Check the "other" box for each and every employee. Fill the field in with "content of my character" There is no reason at all to accept a false characterization based on skin and hair color.

  • Fred_Z

    Most of my official questioners are informed that I am Chinese, female and born in 1899 to one black parent and one Caucasian parent.

  • Fred_Z

    Everything permitted is mandatory. Everything not permitted is prohibited.

  • obloodyhell

    I always indicate I'm "of two races". That doesn't require you to identify which ones.

  • gunsmithkat

    Race?? Daytona 500!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sandro.rettinger Sandro Rettinger

    I usually go with "Human", too, though HR departments seem to be catching on and asking "Ethnicity" now, instead.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mwfritz Mike Fritz

    I was once taken to HR for refusing to state my ethnicity. They threatened my job. I have a family, so I complied. Did you know middle easterners are considered White?