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Perfect timing – England makes office jokes less humorous than they already are.

October 2, 2010

Why perfect timing.  A recent comment to my post, Why Liberals will never understand Conservatives, defended the right of the government to make illegal the misrepresentation of your military service.  I disagreed with the comment because the government can not selectively enforce the First Amendment; it gives the government too much power.

As if on cue, I ran into this article from the U.K.’s Daily Mail talking about Britain’s new Equality Act.  What does the new law do?

  • Third Party Harassment – employers can be sued if office banter offends someone even if they are not a party to the offense.  This provision includes customer’s comments.  How exactly is an employer supposed to control the speech of their customers?
  • Discrimination by Association – you can sue your employer if you think you have been discriminated against because of your association with someone else.  The example given is if someone is treated less favorably because they have a gay brother.  Here is a better example, suing the government because you didn’t get hired asserting it is because you are Glenn Beck’s (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc.) relative.  With whom does the burden of proof fall?  This is sheer insanity.
  • Harassment by or Against Customers – This is just ridiculous.  So I can sue a store if I hear two customers telling a dirty joke?  Or just cussing?  Anyone who has visited a 7-eleven recently has cause for litigation according to this law.
  • Health Secrecy – employers can’t ask about your health history.  According to the article this could extend so far as to making it illegal to ask an employee, “How are you?”  The article also asserts employers might need to have lawyers present during the interview process.
  • Pay Secrecy – employers can no longer require workers to be silent on their pay.  Talk about a can of worms.  Now you can say you have been discriminated against because you are paid less than another employee.  While this might actually be the case sometimes, it could also be because you are not a good employee that doesn’t deserve a pay raise.
  • Employment Tribunals – currently employment tribunals can penalize employers with fines, this law allows the tribunals to require employers to go to equality training courses.

If you have ever employed or managed people, you can quickly see how ridiculous this law is.  Not only do you have to prevent employees from saying the wrong things, but you also have to make sure your customers speak properly.  This is straight out of 1984.  Double-speak will be the new language of business in the U.K.

And this goes to the original point.  When government starts dictating what speech is too offensive to allow, we get to this insanity.  If you don’t think something like this is possible in America, you are out of your mind.  With the liberals we have in federal office right now, I guarantee this kind of stuff has crossed their minds more than once.

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