EEOC should continue to make a fool of itself

June 17, 1994|By MIKE ROYKO

As a service to American taxpayers, I'm going to give some free advice to the bureaucrats at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

My advice is this: Don't waste taxpayers' money by further harassment of Hans Morsbach, a Chicago restaurant owner.

If you go into court with your anemic charges that he discriminates in hiring, any rational judge will probably whack you on the head with his gavel.

Even though you paper shufflers have refused to discuss your evidence, other sources have provided information about your Morsbach file. Based on what they say, as investigators you people should try doing stand-up comedy.

What you're running appears to be a scam. You apparently believe that if you send out scary official letters to businessmen such as Morsbach, you can stampede them into what amounts to a guilty plea.

It probably works often, too, since many small-business people go into shock at having to deal with the government. And when they cave in and plead for mercy, you have scalps that help justify your existence and your paychecks.

Since you won't talk about how you built your age-discrimination case against Morsbach -- not even with Morsbach -- let me make a stab at it.

First, let's say you had an investigator go to an outfit called the Job Exchange because you had a complaint about it or one of the hundreds of restaurants it works with. This is an outfit that finds jobs for people in the food industry. In effect, an employment agency.

While your investigator was going through records to check out the complaint -- which was unrelated to Morsbach -- he came across a small file card. On it was written the name of one of Morsbach's four restaurants.

The card also contained the words "wts," "young" and "bub."

Being a clever fellow, your investigator decided that the word "wts" meant waitress. "Young" meant whatever you decide it means. To me, President Clinton is young. So is his wife. On the other hand, a baseball player is ancient at 38. Age is in the eye of the bureaucrat.

Then we have the word "bub." This you took to mean "bubbly." Those in the restaurant business tell me that bubbly is sometimes used to mean enthusiastic.

So your investigator zipped back to the office, proudly displayed his find, and you decided that you had a case: Morsbach was obviously guilty of trying to hire a young, enthusiastic waitress. That means he was discriminating against people who are old and lacking in enthusiasm.

Then you had an investigator go to Morsbach's restaurant to look at his files. And you determined that your suspicions were correct. He had not recently hired anyone who was old and lacking in enthusiasm.

The next step was to send a letter telling Morsbach what he must do to atone for his sins. He had to hire four people in their 40s, which you believe to be a non-young age bracket. (Does this mean a group like the Rolling Stones qualifies for Social Security?)

He must give them back pay and benefits and credit them with seniority. In addition, he has to post a sign effectively admitting his guilt and promising to never sin again.

Of course, your investigation didn't extend to checking out Morsbach's hiring policies. If it had, you would have found that he hires people who are young and not so young. Or that as many as half of his managers are black. That he has fired someone for making bigoted remarks.

And if you knew anything about Chicago, you would know that nobody can be a successful businessman in Hyde Park -- the city's most liberal community -- if he is even suspected of being a bigot. In Hyde Park, you can't even be bigoted against serial killers.

So it appears that one of Morsbach's managers may have talked to the Job Exchange. Maybe it called the manager, which the agency often does, or maybe he called it. You don't know, and Morsbach doesn't know.

And there may have been a conversation about the hiring of a waitress -- maybe someone enthusiastic and young -- which someone at the employment agency jotted on a card.

But no such ad was ever placed in a newspaper. The Job Exchange advertises only in the Chicago Reader, a weekly newspaper that has strict anti-discrimination rules. We checked and found nothing during that time frame about a waitress who is "young" or "bub."

Your entire case, in fact, is based on one little file card containing a few words. And Morsbach, your bureaucratic victim, knows nothing about the card, about who wrote it, or about how it came into existence.

But based on that card, you have threatened to take him to court unless he grovels before your bureaucratic might and agrees to accept the punishment you toss at him.

Actually, you have done something useful. The Morsbach case has caught the attention of Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago congressman, and he is going to look into your methods, which appear to be un-American. Or do you believe that the accused should not be able to see the evidence against him?

Also, several other small-business owners who have been bullied by the EEOC have called me with fright stories. My, you desk jockeys do like playing the bogyman.

So I've changed my mind. Keep chasing Morsbach. Make fools of yourselves.

And if anyone out there has had similar dealings with these bureaucratic storm troopers, you can write me at 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 60611. Or phone 312-222-3111.

Meanwhile, be careful about hiring someone who is "bub."

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