Vin Suprynowicz

The Libertarian

Vin Suprynowicz

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It would be a bad thing if talented individuals were blocked from their careers of choice because of sex or race. But while some subtler prejudice doubtless remains, the days when applicants to American colleges or medical schools were told “Your grades would have been fine, if only you were white” are blessedly long gone, as is the parallel refrain too many of our grandmothers had to overcome: “All our girls start in the typing pool.”

Problem is, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was created at a time (1965) when the worst of these inequities were already on their way to being eliminated. Add to this the fact that few bureaucrats ever demonstrate the courage necessary to declare “Mission accomplished, let’s lock up and go home,” and the EEOC has become an agency increasingly in search of a mission.

Boy, does it show.

In 1995, the EEOC announced they wanted the Atlanta-based Hooters restaurant chain to replace 40 percent of their (mostly) buxom young waitresses -- the signature “Hooters Girls” -- with men, and to pay $22 million into a fund for EEOC distribution to male “victims” of the chain’s hiring policy.

But Hooters management, which had spent four years cooperating with federal investigators, decided to fight back, pointing out they hire plenty of male cooks and bartenders, and that federal law does allow some gender-based hiring. (Playboy is not required to hire male bunnies ... or centerfolds.)

Far from being “exploited,” many Hooters waitresses were making $75 to $100 an hour in tips, it turned out. The chain launched parody ads in national newspapers, showing mustachioed male “Hooters Girls” in falsies and blonde wigs ... and the hyperactive EEOC gang quietly folded their tents and snuck out of town.

By 1998, though, the EEOC pants police were busy again, this time in Miami, where they ordered popular seafood restaurant Joe’s Stone Crab to pay $150,000 in “lost wages” to four women who had not been hired as waitresses there, because that enterprise used all male waiters.

The agency and a sympathetic federal judge actually calculated the four women’s “lost wages” starting years before they even applied for work, theorizing they might have applied for work earlier, were it not for Joe’s reputation for hiring only men.

And how did that old reprobate, Joe, respond?

The restaurant’s owner, JoAnn Bass, insisted she had plenty of women on her payroll in other capacities, and vowed to appeal.

What next, a federal lawsuit demanding that more scantily clad males be hired to strut the poles and runways of Vegas strip clubs and pose for those yellow-page “out-call dancer” ads? Three or four token women to join the Thunder from Down Under?

This may no longer be a joke, unfortunately, as the looking-for-something-to-do EEOC announced earlier this month it will locate two new field offices in Alabama and right here in Sin City -- Alabama and Nevada being the only two states previously spared the EEOC’s direct interventionist presence.

The plan, which requires congressional approval, calls for $180,000 to open a five-person office in Las Vegas, and $55,000 for annual operating costs.

(I think we know how to spot the undercover EEOC investigators: the nickel-and-dime tips.)

Since it’s unlikely you could open a frozen yogurt stand in Vegas for that kind of money, the word “low-balling” does come to mind.

And officials with Nevada’s own state Equal Rights Commission say essentially the same thing. Nevada ERC Commissioner Susan Gray argued in a June 15 letter to the federal agency that more “help” is not needed, that opening the new federal office here makes little fiscal sense when the number of discrimination complaints filed with the state of Nevada are already declining.

The EEOC replies that they anticipate handling many more discrimination complaints once they’re here.

I bet. And I also bet it won’t take many years before that “operating budget” is 50 times the current estimate -- while the court costs run up by harmless Las Vegas business owners defending themselves against frivilous federal “discrimination” lawsuits will be at least that large, again.

What the EEOC really ought to do is declare victory and disband. But at the very least ... are you sure you wouldn’t like to settle for a bigger presence in Alabama, girls? Grits and red-eye gravy. Beauty pageants. All-male football teams. Ku Klux Klan rallies ...

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