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Personal Experience In Employment Law

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Of all the jobs I've had, the one that is most applicable and involves issues with conflict, grievance, and legal questions is my enlistment in the U.S. Navy. Besides having to follow U.S., state, and local law, being a part of the Armed Forces requires an additional body of law to follow and adhere to: the Uniform Code of Military Justice or the UCMJ. Things like not showing up for work, falling asleep at work, and not doing your job aren’t crimes in the civilian sector, but each of these are crimes according to the UCMJ and are punishable by imprisonment in the military.

Living by such a strict code of conduct can be abrupt and unnerving to some, but the UCMJ and the rules it adopted were born out of necessity. Following the chain of command is the standard way to resolve an issue, but if the UCMJ doesn’t satisfy an offense, certain civilian laws can take precedence. For example, any sort of harassment is not tolerated is the least, and if the victim fears retribution, he or she can follow the civilian protocol for harassment in the workplace.

Both military and employment law reflect problems and issues facing both the personnel and the institution. While rights and regulations established benefits and limitations, one of the main factors and similarities were that laws were created to make the working environment safe not for just the workers, but the businesses as well. The difference in the timing of the codes and laws does differ greatly. The UCMJ was created in 1950 and revised in 1968 and 1983(Military Legal Resources, 2006). The U.S. accepted the 8 hour workday in 1912, 38 years before the UCMJ. New employment laws still continue to be made as new types of employment are introduced and the facets and nature of the workplace and workforce continue to change. Some of the most prevalent and important laws were established in title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination by employers based on a particular race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Other laws such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended the CRA VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act all prohibited discrimination due to specific circumstances (Wikipedia, 2008). These laws were instituted to benefit workers, and at the same time, laws were also established to benefit business and industry. Tax laws provided benefits help businesses save money to hire more employees.

Discrimination laws helped resolve issues plaguing many Americans trying to obtain gainful employment. Before these laws were made, many qualified people were denied opportunities based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, medical situation, or age. It is important to remember, however, that some jobs have requirements that some people don’t have. If a job has a “Bona Fide Occupational Requirement,” and if reasonable accommodations are made and the person still doesn’t qualify, then the situation isn't discrimination, it is a legitimate disqualifier. These laws were designed to even the playing field while not giving any one group or populace an unfair advantage. Policies adopted by companies follow these laws well and provide a system built by merit. Seniority, quality, and quantity are what most company’s base employment and promotion on, not the discriminating factors companies of the past relied on.

One anti-discrimination law now considered forced discrimination is the Affirmative Action law. This law was originally issued by an Executive Order to help socio-politically non-dominant groups obtain an equal opportunity in education or employment (Wikipedia, 2008). Through a distorted mutation, this regulation has evolved into the very thing it was designed to help eliminate: discrimination. Now that discrimination is less prevalent in the workplace, this law discounts actual qualifications, forcing companies to hire less qualified people based on a discriminating aspect. To truly eradicate discrimination both personally and professionally, addressing and enabling discrimination through the guise of equality and equal opportunity is not just wrong, it is obscene.

In the Navy, many of the tasks that were given by protocol and procedure were not able to be completed in whole and in a timely manner. In these cases, sub-contractors were used due to their knowledge, ability, and expertise on a specific subject. Also, in the state I was stationed in, Hawaii, certain jobs had to be done by certified personnel, such as welding and gauge certification. In the few cases that an issue or conflict arose, self-mediation was the usual resolution. The benefit of having strict policies and procedures is that any and all questions were referred



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