I had a conversation during lunch at work with a fellow co-worker who has been employed by the company for 6 years, and is currently the Merchandise Manager. Nit, who is of Asian descent, is a 40-year-old married man with a 1-year-old son. I recently found out that he had held the position of General Manager at another store in the company. I asked Nit why he was no longer in the higher-level management spot. "Gee, it seems like that would be digressing, Nit. Why is that?" I asked. Stuffing a bite of sandwich in his mouth, he used sign language to answer and held up one arm while tapping repeatedly on it with the index finger of his other hand. "My color," he replied. There was another gentleman present who also was Asian. Shaking his head in agreement, Jay said, "Yes, that's right. You will be able to move up to any position you want in this company. Asians, Blacks, Hispanics...they are not treated the same here." Nit proceeded to back up Jay's statement by telling of how he had at one point received a high recognition five months in a row. This award is difficult to obtain once, let alone five months straight. A short time later a promotion was granted to someone else who in Nit's opinion was not as deserving. "That's too bad, " I said. "It would be great to have someone in a top managerial position who would be an advocate of equal opportunity and affirmative action and do something to prevent this." When I asked for additional detail as to how he ended up in this arrangement, Nit replied, "I am involved in a lawsuit, and am not at liberty to discuss it any further.
My conversation with Nit has revealed that racial discrimination in the workplace is alive and well. I believe this demeaning practice is prevalent, negatively affecting companies, employees, and the public. These social injustices are expensive as a result of court proceedings and settlements between companies and victims. In my opinion,