King was robbed of his vision, and a chance to finish his life's work by an assassin's bullet, but his vision has continued on nonetheless and today racial, age and gender equality is light years ahead of what is once was. So much so, in fact, that radio shock jock Don Imus was fired by CBS and MSNBC amidst the storm of public disgust generated over his utterance of a racial slur this spring.
And yet, it's still happening. African-Americans are being passed over for promotions, or paying higher rates for car loans. Professional women are still fighting an old boys' network that smacks of discrimination, and people with vast experience and skills are pushed out, or passed over because of age.
Manch McLaughlin has two counts against him -- he's 54, and he's African-American. An employee of National Grid for more than 25 years, McLaughlin has been a model employee at the Glenmont utility company and brings a wealth of experience to work every day. He's been applying for promotions since 2001, but he always sees younger, less-experienced, and white colleagues get the nod for the plumb jobs.
An internal complaint, and an appeal to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was of little help, so McLaughlin has filed a federal lawsuit in Massachusetts court, alleging race and age discrimination. He's still at the utility company, working for an employer he is effectively suing. National Grid says they were looking into the matter. McLaughlin's wife Lois, who has experience with diversity and affirmative action, says her husband is a textbook case.
Hopefully, McLaughlin hasn't tried to buy a car. He might wind up paying a higher interest rate, just because he's the wrong colour...
Incredibly, African-Americans appear to have paid, on average, at least two percentage points more than whites for a car loan - and sometimes that interest rate will climb as high as 15 per cent, especially for used cars. Hispanics also paid more, on average, than their Anglo-Saxon counterparts.
The report was compiled using data from the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances.
And that juggernaut from Wall Street, Morgan Stanley, is about to square it up with the eight former, and current employees who launched a class-action lawsuit against the company for gender-bias. At issue were denials of promotions, training and pay raises to women (but available to male employees). The settlement, worth U.S. $46 million, will also see an overhaul of the company's methodology for case distribution.
This isn't the first time Morgan Stanley has been hit with gender-bias litigation. In 2004 and again in 2005, Morgan Stanley was accused of being an old boy's club that saved the new, and best clients and cases for their male friends, and made a regular practice of holding men-only business and strategy meetings at strip clubs and golf courses, denying women the opportunity to meet with clients.
But there are other forms of discrimination that might surprise you, and according to the EEOC, religious bias is the second-fastest growing discrimination class.
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When Martin Luther King Jr. articulated his dream for equality, the response rolled out in the form of huge public protests and marches.
Today may see you marching to your lawyer. But the dream is the same. Just the tactics are different.