employment discrimination

The Twenty-First Century, Last I Checked

Gerry Pickens discusses his current situation and unemployment. Pickens, who was Orting’s first black police officer, was fired five days before his one-year probation period ended. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post, April, 2015)

This is unsettling:

Maybe it was because he had the least seniority that he had been given an older car, with a battery that occasionally went dead when he turned on his police lights. Maybe the police chief was only trying to be thoughtful when he mentioned, in Pickens’s memory at least three times, that Pickens should be vigilant about his self defense because Orting was an old-fashioned place that believed in the Second Amendment, where white supremacist groups remained active and well armed. And maybe Pickens had only himself to blame when his imagination began obsessing about those groups between 2 and 6 a.m., when he was the only officer on duty. He sometimes wondered: If one of those groups ambushed him, would anyone provide backup? How long before help would arrive?


Growing up, Orting was the next town over. It is not quite accurate to say the place isn’t memorable, but it is what it is, a small town. Believe it or not, what I remember is playing golf in Orting. And a weird anecdote about a lady whose next door neighbor in one direction was a local call, but long-distance in the other. There was also the realization that if the warning sirens waited until Mount Rainier actually explodes, there would be no point, as the people would not have time to get out of the way.

But this? Having come up in that part of Pierce County, Washington, the unsettling aspect is not specifically that the issue arose, but, rather, that it somehow managed to wait until the twenty-first century. After all, this is not an unfamiliar waypoint along the path to societal justice, but it also seems like something our society should have gotten through sometime last century. Other than that, yes, this was probably inevitable.

This is Orting we’re talking about, after all.


Saslow, Eli. “For tiny Orting, Wash., a foundational shift”. The Washington Post. 18 April 2015.


President Barack Obama

So, here we are:

For the first time, companies that have contracts with the federal government are now prohibited from firing or discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, thanks to an executive order that takes effect Wednesday.


I might have mentioned something about this in passing.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Bendery, Jennifer. “It Is Now Illegal For A Federal Contractor To Fire Someone For Being LGBT”. The Huffington Post. 8 April 2015.

An American Moment

“After considering the text of Title VII, the relevant Supreme Court case law interpreting the statute, and the developing jurisprudence in this area, I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

Oh, yes. Our America still has its good days.

Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed delivers the news, and while it might seem like a small thing compared to yesterday’s breathtaking tales from Washington and Havana, this really is one of those important things.

And while it is true that the last two years of a second-term presidency often include some of the maneuvers that president should have started with six years before, what, really, does this administration have left on the list of reasons to not do certain things? Maybe if they pile on enough over the next year and some months, and just keep pouring on through the election cycle, Democrats will actually get up and aim for more daring goals than holding the line against whatever has become of the Republican Party.

But, you know, for the moment, yes, it is perfectly acceptable to pause and say, “Wow! Why didn’t I see that one coming?”

And we would also take a moment to say, Thank you, Mr. Holder.


Holder, Eric. “Treatment of Transgender Employment Discrimination Claims Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964”. United States Department of Justice. 15 December 2014.

Geidner, Chris. “Justice Department Will Now Support Transgender Discrimination Claims In Litigation”. BuzzFeed. 18 December 2014.