I am Jack's Smirking Revenge

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The New Freedom: Look up my skirt

In my months of looking for work, I have come across quite a few curious things.

Many companies ask questions which go far and beyond effort to find out if you can do the job.

Criminal History
Drug Testing
Credit History

So, these things seem fairly obvious to ask about in certain situations- you don't want a past bank robber working in the vault of your bank, you don't want a heroin user driving your steamroller, and you don't want someone who is irresponsible with their finances working in your accounting department...

Or do you?

Back in the day-- last week, maybe-- we held the idea that having served time for your crime, you had paid your debt to society and were on the level again.

Drug use is illegal, and by forcing people to submit to testing is to imply that they might do this illegal thing- prove your own innocence. Drug use is obviously illegal, and it might pose a threat in certain work environments, but many industries would go out of business permanently if they had to screen their workers this way. The problem is that some companies test all workers by default- whether they drive a semi or a desk chair. Translation? Regardless of your perfect attendance at your last job, your perfect resume, your shining reviews from past employers- if you do something illegal in your free time which may have no bearing on your work, we will not hire you.

Having bad credit is a self-perpetuating cycle. Having bad money management skills is not uncommon. Forgetting to pay a few bills, or having a bankruptcy- I do not know the threshold where a company's red flag goes up, but my credit is my business.

Overall, there is an increasing trend of employers feeling they have implicit permission to look up your skirt, so to speak, before employing you. I feel this is leading towards yet further infringement of a person's ability to have privacy.

I'd just like to pause here and insert some vicious, seething, throat-slashing angst aimed at this type of activity, among all the other worthy-of-a-slow-painful-death behavior out there. (see also: horrible splattery doom)


We, as job-seekers, are put in a postion which requires careful balance.

On one hand, most of us are not independently wealthy, so we can't just refuse to work for a company when they offer us work- but with the degrading, humiliating hoops we have to jump through beforehand. I suspect most people just set aside all of their moral outrage, grin and bear it, and just get on with making money and paying the bills.

If you decide, instead, to stick it out and work for someone who shows respect for their employees, then you may have a long hard wait. You may ruin your credit, have gaps in your work history- and suffer in other ways due to your 'lofty' ideals.

Essentially, if you fail to comply with the system which is in place, the system punishes you, such that when you decide to comply, it is obvious that you did not comply at some point. All very handy from the system's point of view.

As database-driven information systems become more and more common, and technologies to weed you out for this reason or that become cheaper and more widespread, companies will continue to adopt them and 'protect' themselves from the 'bad' people in the world. AS Orwellian as it may seem, life not unlike that in the movie Gattaca may not be far away for us.


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