The Associated Press reported yesterday that Mormon employees at the University of Phoenix benefited from discrimination based on religion, according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The University settled the suit, paying $1.9 million to 52 employees (an average of more than $36,000 each!) and agreeing to a “zero-tolerance” policy to religious discrimination, but did not admit wrongdoing.
What’s up with that?
Seriously. Can someone explain to me how things like this happen?
Perhaps I am naÃ¯ve, (and, I admit I know nothing about how the University of Phoenix operates) but I tend to believe that there must be something to charges like this, especially when the University is willing to pay so much per employee to settle the problem. At least, the evidence the EEOC had must have been good enough to keep the case from being thrown out of court easily. (FWIW, I’d guess $1.9 million could pay for 3 full-time lawyers for an entire year at $300/hour. If the case was easy to win, surely they wouldn’t have settle for so much money).
The news reports says that this isn’t about who was hired or fired. Instead, it is apparently about giving advantages in distributing work. The suit “alleged that non-Mormon counselors were given fewer new student recruiting leads and more reprimands.”
So, assuming the EEOC is right, how could members of the Church (as I understand it, the University of Phoenix is owned and run by members of the Church) pull something like this?
Could this really be some kind of innocent, unintended favoritism?
I know we are all human. Mormons have committed some pretty horrible crimes over the years. I saw these things way too often when I was running Mormon News. Some things simply don’t surprise me at all — such murder under impassioned circumstances. I can understand someone getting angry when they shouldn’t, and overreacting. I won’t condone or excuse it, but I can see how it happens.
But who play’s favoritism over weeks or years due to an impassioned feeling?
I can also see how greed could lead to a series of planned thefts over weeks or years. But who plans favoritism when there isn’t a direct benefit?
The only though process that might make the motivation clear to me is the idea that we should help each other in the Church. If that is what the motivation is, then I think that the idea got corrupted somehow in this case.
Please help me understand.