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Monday, September 19, 2011

Part 2 of "A new workplace = anxiety"

If you will recall, I talked about my experiences at the county government center 5 months ago (see posts #1 & #2 for more). I will discuss the other experiences that helped cement my unyielding intolerance for all forms of discrimination against deaf people.

When I worked for the 1st manager, she always got me an interpreter for meetings and seminars. She knew I had something that would greatly benefit the department and she made sure, through her actions, that I would want to contribute. When another deaf person was hired and struggled mightily to understand how to do her job, the manager went out of her way by hiring an interpreter to stay with the new worker for a full working week (the new worker had an interpreter for 2 days beforehand). The deaf worker ended up getting fired for playing with her pager too much while in training.

The first incident occurred when HJIC (see the hyperlinked posts) called a meeting without bothering to set up an interpreter to announce who he had hired as the 3rd manager (the Bitch). I had to rely on co-workers to tell me what was going on. The second incident happened just one month into the Bitch's tenure when she tried to minimize the need for an interpreter by telling me, "Oh the meeting is just 5 minutes...don't worry about it." We walked out of the meeting 20 minutes later and I understood not a thing. I lost my faith in the county government.

The county never hired another deaf person. Ever. I was hired in 2000 and the last one was hired in 2002. The last deaf worker, who was hired about 5 years before me, finally quit about 3 years ago when she figured out that nobody was going to promote her despite all the sacrifices she made for the county.

I was hired away from the county as an advocate and I was able to bring a lot to the table for the company that hired me. I became a heavy hitter for the deaf community and I made a lot of hearing people nervous. I toured around many police stations to give lectures on the rights of deaf citizens. When the deaf community learned of my tours, they were indignant because they have had personal experiences with the police which soured them on the cops. My response? "Call me when something happens to you and I'll help."

My first call was when I had to advise a deaf citizen to file discrimination against the police department (in my hometown, no less) when I found out that after arresting him for suspicious activity, they mocked his speech and denied him the right to an interpreter. I went to the police station and told them to stop patrolling his house or I would consider that to be a form of harassment since the client filed a claim of discrimination against them. The client let me know he missed the deadline to file, but the cops had kept their distance ever since and his life had gotten better.

My second call? I threatened a police station with legal action when they refused to let her wear the cuffs in front when I visited her in her cell. There was no way she could communicate with anyone, let alone me or an interpreter. She was arrested for a hit and run and they wouldn't get her an interpreter. I brought my own interpreter and after the cops finally agreed to comply with my demands with the deaf woman, they asked to interview her as a possible witness to a crime that occurred in her neighborhood. Naturally, she refused to cooperate with them after what happened to her in the cell.

After I left, I followed up on her the next day and I learned that the police had asked for a psych evaluation on her and I had to threaten them again when she was evaluated without an interpreter. The person I called was incredulous about the whole thing, even said to me "What does it matter to you if she had an interpreter or not?" I responded with, "Imagine if you were being held in a foreign country, you don't speak their language, and you weren't given an interpreter. How would you feel about that?" The person said incredibly, "We aren't in another country. I don't get the point." I hung up on her without saying another word since it became painfully clear to me that she wouldn't work with me and I promptly called the police commissioner. That call shook things up.

The point? If you think you are being discriminated against, SPEAK UP! Edmund Burke said it best, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Silence = consenting to or accepting what happens to you
Silence = not fighting for your most basic right
Silence = letting them do it again...to YOU

3 comments:

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Good message and its true. Speak Up. Don't let the bullies dictate!

Garden of Egan said...

You are so right.
It is heartbreaking to see what some have to go through to be treated well.

DCHY said...

ADSL - they're bullies when you let them be one. :)

GoE - we both know from experience. :(