Is Evacuee Favoritism in Hiring Fair?

Troubling article at the Wall Street Journal this week discussing a supposed backlash among locals in Dallas, San Antonio and other cities as a result of local employers making an extra effort to open jobs for the victims of hurricane Katrina and giving preferences over locals in hiring. Here is a taste:
In places such as Houston, Baton Rouge, La., and San Antonio, where evacuees have arrived en masse, employers have blended hiring needs with a groundswell of compassion. Local outlets of McDonald's Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., PetSmart Inc. and others have visited evacuee sites to pursue Katrina victims. Flyers at one shelter last week read, "San Antonio Jobs for Katrina Evacuees," and listed more than 60 employers with contact names and phone numbers. Each had called a local radio station vowing to offer jobs to hurricane victims in the city.

That irritated Joe Dominguez, a 55-year-old construction worker in San Antonio out of a job for seven months. He fumed that local businesses were making an extra effort to open jobs for the victims. "It's not right," he said. "I can understand they need to work, but a lot of people [who were already] in San Antonio need jobs, too."

As you may know, the Employment Law Bulletin operates its vast legal media empire from its headquarters here in San Antonio. While this is purely anecdotal, I must let you know that we have not come across any locals begrudging benefits being given to these people that have already gone through so much. Honestly, the influx of new residents from Louisiana will likely cause a short-term burden on the cities they have been moved to. I know that here in San Antonio (a city that is quite a bit smaller than both Dallas and Houston) the placement of those fleeing Katrina in apartment housing has caused a shortage for same. With regard to jobs, however, I do not see a substantial negative effect. San Antonio has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Texas. Many of the jobs being offered to Katrina victims were undoubtedly created by employers seeking to help out in any way they can. For the most part, I seriously doubt they are taking jobs away from locals.

This all kind of nibbles around the edge of the broader and more important issue of the amount of poverty that has been allowed to continue unaddressed in New Orleans and other urban areas for so many years. Unfortunately, it takes something as earth shattering as a natural disaster to force the nation to closely examine the lives of those Americans that are not being brought along in our economic and social progress. George Lenard of George's Employment Blawg recently posted a comment on the Monster.com blog that addressed this issue with clarity and thoughtfulness. It is so good that I post it in its entirety here:

Part of a much larger and very important series of questions.Katrina exposed, for the entire world to see, the little Third World that is inside every major American city. For the moment, all manner of "relief" efforts are directed at people who are survivors of this natural disaster. But prior to the hurricane, our society and government was in large part all too willing to ignore the ongoing inner city socio-economic disasters disproportionately impacting African-Americans.Once the immediate crisis and charitable impulse fades, will public and private sectors continue active support of these hurricane survivors?Will the poorest of them fade back into quiet poverty?If not, will the type of resentment you describe continue to fester?Or will America rise to the occasion and realize that one of the many things we have learned from this disaster is that we cannot afford to continue to fail to develop the largely African-American human resources living in broken, crime-ridden neighborhoods and sending their children to unacceptable schools?Every American, no matter their color and background, no matter where they live, and no matter whether they were natural disaster victims, can be part of the problem or part of the solution.Let's start making better choices.

Amen to that.Sexual Harassment, Pregnancy Discrimination, Age Discrimination, San Antonio, Employment Lawyer