I’ve already suggested that subsidies for the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are the most wasteful and counterproductive item in the federal budget. At least on a per-dollar-spent basis.
But what about a similar exercise for government red tape?
How would we come up with the worst regulation or the most counterproductive regulatory agency?
Thanks to the IRS, I have a strong candidate for the worst regulation, but if I had to pick the worst agency, I’d probably choose the horribly mis-named Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
These bureaucrats are infamous for bone-headed initiatives, such as:
The EEOC making it hard for trucking companies to weed out drunk drivers.
The EEOC telling a coffee shop it had too many attractive waitresses.
The EEOC forcing companies to make special accommodations for “pee-shy” employees.
The EEOC trying to give special employment rights to crooks.
We now have another item for the list.
The bureaucrats apparently like forcing companies to hire people who are more likely to rip off customers, though sometimes they find judges that aren’t nearly so tolerant.
Let’s see what the Wall Street Journal had to say about the “hilariously caustic rebuke of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
The EEOC had sued Kaplan, the for-profit education company, for using “the same type of background check that the EEOC itself uses,” as Judge Raymond Kethledge cheekily put it in the first sentence of his ruling in EEOC v. Kaplan. Despite its own practices, the Obama EEOC has made a cause of suing private companies because it claims that credit and criminal background checks discriminate against minorities.
But so-called disparate impact doesn’t mean discrimination.
Judge Kethledge eviscerated the EEOC like a first-day law student, writing that Kaplan had good reason to conduct credit checks… As for proving disparate racial impact, Judge Kethledge noted that “the credit-check process is racially blind; the [credit-check] vendor does not report the applicant’s race with her other information.” …The unanimous opinion was joined by Damon Keith, one of the most liberal judges on the entire federal bench. If government officials were accountable, EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez would be fired for losing in such humiliating fashion.
But that’s just one crazy case.
The Wall Street Journal also opined about another strange example of EEOC quackery. The bureaucrats actually believe that stealing should be a protected disability.
Or, to be more technical, that stealing should be an acceptable behavior because of a supposed disability.
In September 2008, Walgreens employee Josefina Hernandez claims she had a hypoglycemia attack, grabbed a bag of potato chips off a shelf and ate them to boost her blood sugar. The drug-store company has a strict policy against “grazing” (i.e., stealing) and so a supervisor fired Ms. Hernandez, an 18-year veteran of the company. Three years later, the EEOC sued Walgreens for discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act and asked for punitive damages. …The ADA requires employees to request an accommodation for a medical condition, which Mrs. Hernandez never did. Nor does federal law sanction illegal activity—i.e., theft—under cover of a disability, as the Supreme Court made clear in 2003's Raytheon v. Hernandez.
Seems like this should be an open-and-shut case. Which raises the interesting question of why the EEOC decided that the federal government should intervene on behalf of potato chip thievery.
So why pursue such a case in the first place? The EEOC’s lawyers probably figured they had nothing to lose. If they landed a sympathetic judge, they could set a new legal precedent. If they lost, taxpayers would pay for the case anyway. And sure enough, U.S. District Judge William Orrick, an Obama appointee, ruled against the store’s motion for summary judgment last week. The question now is whether Walgreens will continue to fight for the right to fire employees who steal from company shelves, or simply settle to get the EEOC’s lawyers to go away.
I hope all companies fight meddling and stupidity by the federal government.
I do understand that sometimes it makes sense to acquiesce to extortion, at least in the short run. The long-run costs of surrender, though, are very high.
Which is why companies should fight, but they should get support from Capitol Hill. The EEOC budget should be slashed to show that there are consequences to bureaucratic insanity.
P.S. I shared some political humor last year about a make-believe Obama Administration initiative called the “Americans with no Abilities Act.”
Anybody want to guess when that becomes official EEOC policy?
I’m only partially joking. It’s sort of happened already in the United Kingdom.
P.P.S. Don’t forget that EEOC regulation is just one straw of red tape on the camel’s back.
Americans spend 8.8 billion hours every year filling out government forms.
The economy-wide cost of regulation is now $1.75 trillion.
For every bureaucrat at a regulatory agency, 100 jobs are destroyed in the economy’s productive sector.
The Obama Administration added $236 billion of red tape in 2012.