June 16, 2016

"Should a Friend Be Told the Real Reason He Didn’t Get the Job?"

My answer to this question would be: Does your friend read The New York Times? But maybe the NYT ethicist had some ethics that would have restrained him from publishing the letter if his answer was no. Oh, no, actually, the ethicist ends up saying the friend should not be told, though everything that would be told is right there in that letter.

And this last paragraph was interesting, on the topic of race (which was not raised by the letter-writer). On the plus side of telling:
Our country is full of people convinced that they’ve lost out through affirmative action to less-qualified minorities. Sometimes they have; very often they haven’t. (For one thing, you can be right that a white candidate lost out to a “targeted hire” but wrong to think that you were that white candidate.) It’s not just his self-esteem that’s being defended by this consoling thought, it’s a false belief that relates to an important social question.
The letter writer didn't say the friend is white. And the ethicist doesn't mention that a nonwhite person might also suspect the rejection was based on race. Moreover, if the employer's decision-makers rejected the friend because of race, they probably wouldn't admit it to outsiders [or perhaps even to themselves]. If these people trumped up a bogus reason, and you told him that, he might be twisted into trying to change something about himself that wasn't even bad (which, in this case, seems to be that he was too over-the-top energetic (and the job was: teacher)).

24 comments:

rhhardin said...

The news is that the NYT has an ethicist.

It's sort of like a diversity coordinator.

If you're ever at a mandatory business ethics seminar, raise your hand and ask if it's ever okay to tell a lie.

tim in vermont said...

It’s not just his self-esteem that’s being defended by this consoling thought, it’s a false belief that relates to an important social question.

Right. OK. Nobody ever lost a job because of affirmative action because it is impossible to know if you lost a job for which you were never seriously considered. Got it. I wish I was as smart as these liberals.

rhhardin said...

I get both an ethicist and a moralist and let them fight.

Gahrie said...

Everyone should always be told the real reason they didn't get the job.

However, that often causes lawsuits, so it usually doesn't happen.

tim in vermont said...

I get both an ethicist and a moralist and let them fight

Trial by combat! I like it!

Kevin said...

Do you believe all these letters are real? Don't you believe some of them are made up to address issues the columnist - and the paper - feel need to be addressed?

The hard work of social engineering is made light by many fingers on many keyboards.

tim maguire said...

I stopped reading the ethicist because I have serious questions about the ethics of the columnists involved.

Bruce Hayden said...

Humorous responses. It is too hard for me though to take my legal hat off. You pretty much can't tell someone for legal reasons if the reason was affirmative action, unless the employer is the govt (since they usually can't be sued). And if you make it a practice of telling them the reason otherwise, silence can then be assumed to mean that race, sex, ethnic background, etc played into the decision. Which basically means that the lawyers will counsel you to never tell them the reasons for not hiring them for that position. Anything else by the ethicists is just counting the angels on the head of a pin.

Michael K said...

The first letter sounded like the school might have had a reasonable reason to not hire him and the fact that he kept asking his friend find out why, makes me understand better. The guy is a jerk.

The third letter is the funniest. A recent graduate "film maker" is worried that his job, which pays well and is interesting, is with a company that doesn't pay third world workers enough. I wonder if the guy is so stupid he needs someone to remind him to breath,

Ann Althouse said...

"Do you believe all these letters are real? Don't you believe some of them are made up to address issues the columnist - and the paper - feel need to be addressed?"

I believe the letters in the Ethicist column were really sent in by people and that there is some effort on the part of the Times to check whether these people didn't make it up.

It would be a huge scandal if it were found out that that Times was making these things up (especially about ethics). They'd be reamed. I don't see the motivation to make it up.

TCom said...

In one breath, the writer admits affirmative action results in discrimination by skin color, then in the very next breath, calls it a false belief.

Now that is some serious doublethink. What an absolute joke.

jaydub said...

Michael K said: "The third letter is the funniest. A recent graduate "film maker" is worried that his job, which pays well and is interesting, is with a company that doesn't pay third world workers enough. I wonder if the guy is so stupid he needs someone to remind him to breath."

Well, to be honest he was also concerned about how the job being in advertising required him to "push products onto consumers," so, the answer is yes, he's probably that stupid.

PDM said...

It makes me chuckle to see that the NYT takes the view that the friend should NOT be told. In employment discrimination cases, if a plaintiff can show that the employer has "lied" about the reason for an adverse employment decision, that lie is enough to put the case before a jury, to determine whether the lie was a substitute for the real reason which, the liberal minority of the Supreme Court said, was likely to have been a discriminatory reason -- whether or not there is, otherwise, proof of discriminatory intent. Scalia, in dissent, noted that employers tell "white lies" all the time to save the feelings of a no-good employee that's being let go. They do it to be polite, to save the feelings of the fired employee, and with the hope of avoiding conflict. It has nothing to do with discrimination, and shouldn't serve as its substitute. Scalia took the majority to task for not understanding how the real working world works, and should work. It's delicious to see the NYT on board with Scalia's reality, which lost the day and is still no more than the dissenting view on this issue.

Gusty Winds said...

Remember when the airlines used "targeted hiring" to employ sexy stewardesses?

CJinPA said...

Our country is full of people convinced that they’ve lost out through affirmative action to less-qualified minorities. Sometimes they have; very often they haven’t.

I love the weasel words "sometimes" and "very often." Which signifies a greater number? Sometimes "very often" does. But often it sometimes does not.

The decision goes to "very often," off course. Except the writer does not know which scenario is greater when it comes to racial preference hiring. No such statistic exists. Despite that, the Ethicist misleads the reader into thinking such a stat exists, and that the Ethicist has seen it, and that "our country is full of people" irrationally deluding themselves that a policy designed to result in fewer white hires results in fewer white hires.

Tim said...

Remember when the airlines used "targeted hiring" to employ sexy stewardesses?

When I flew in Brazil 10 years ago I'm pretty sure they still did. Best looking stewardesses I've ever seen.

Larry J said...

Back in 1984, I applied to teach math at a predominately black school. A friend of mine was at the meeting when my application was discussed. "We aren't going to hire any more honkies to teach our kids." Needless to say, I didn't get the job. Instead, they hired the wife of a coach who knew nothing about math. Priorities, don't you see.

Rick said...

For one thing, you can be right that a white candidate lost out to a “targeted hire” but wrong to think that you were that white candidate.

I've always been amused when race preference advocates use this defense. If a black man wasn't considered for a job because he was black should we bar a lawsuit because he can't prove absent such discrimination he specifically would have received the job?

It's such an absurd argument it shows how dishonest race preference supporters are.

William said...

If you are white and sense that you are being discriminated against, this is a probable sign pointing to your bigotry. Counseling should be made available to such people.

William said...

Q. Is there a possibility that an excess of caution and tolerance on the media's part could lead to a bad outcome. I'm thinking of all those sex assaults in Germany which the press did not at first report. A. Impossible. I have looked up your ISP name and address and have notified your employer of your latent bigotry.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...It would be a huge scandal if it were found out that that Times was making these things up (especially about ethics). They'd be reamed. I don't see the motivation to make it up.

Really? "It'd be a huge scandal" covers all the bad behavior the Media engages in that has in fact been a scandal, though, right? Think Rolling Stone, 60 Minutes, Dan Rather, Katie Couric!
I doubt the letters are made up, too, but I can come up with 3 possible motivations off the top of my head. The most interesting one is "the desire to push a particular narrative." What if they got a question that was sort of what they wanted to answer/related to the particular story they wanted to push/lesson they wanted to teach but it didn't quite fit...so they juiced the submission a bit and rewrote the question to ask what they really wanted to answer. Implausible? Do that a few times and it gets to be a habit...then when you really want to "answer" something and you get no questions on it, well, why not just make one up? Implausible? You're doing the Lord's work, of course, giving good answers you truly believe the people need to get, so if you fudge the input a little who's really harmed? Implausible?

Anyway, "oh but it'd be a scandal if they were caught" is a bad reason to believe people won't do the wrong thing. ESPECIALLY Media people!

n.n said...

[Class] diversity policies under the State-establish Pro-choice Church are a major setback for our effort to reconcile moral and natural imperatives, specifically recognizing individual dignity, and have been a first-order cause of progressive corruption.

Sigivald said...

Seems to me that if we didn't have "targeted hires" in the first place, people wouldn't worry about not getting hired because of them.

All the people who criticize Affirmative Action* schemes for bigotry and their effect on the recipients and others, are correct, I find.

(* In the current meaning of the term, not LBJ's entirely unobjectionable use.

"Make sure you're not discriminating" is an excellent prescription.

"Discriminate and have race and sex quotas to make sure you match the general population" is utterly vile.)

Zach said...

I remember there was a case a few years back where a judge wrote to applicants and specifically pointed out the wonderful qualifications of the person he'd hired, which some applicants took badly as a backhand swipe at their own qualifications. I mean, what are you supposed to do in that situation? Write back and congratulate him?

I tend to think that a boilerplate "We had many qualified applicants, and we wish you the best of luck" is best. You're entitled to choose the person you want, and I'm entitled to think you made a terrible mistake. It's not an argument that somebody has to win.