[EDITORIALS]Idealistic draft not viableThe National Human Rights Commission has released a draft act that prohibits discrimination against the underprivileged such as the disabled, irregular workers, people of mixed ethnicity and so on. The point of this draft is to prohibit discriminatory acts at workplaces and schools based on 20 factors, including gender, disability, race, appearance, educational background and types of employment.
It is true that discriminatory acts exist in our society. Disabled people have a hard time getting jobs and discrimination based on educational background is deep-rooted. Although the status of women is said to have improved, Korea still ranked 63rd out of 70 countries, according to a 2000 report by the United Nations Development Program. Discrimination should be reduced in order for our country to become more advanced.
However, the draft has extreme measures that raise concerns over whether businessmen will be hampered in operating their businesses. If a company does not follow a correction order, a fine of up to 30 million won ($32,000) can be imposed and compensation of two to five times more than estimated damages can be demanded. The number of bases for discrimination is more than that of advanced nations ― which have from six to 14 definitions. The definition of discrimination is also arbitrary. All behavior that causes mental pain, such as humiliation, insults or causing fear ― in short, mental harassment ― are regarded as discriminatory acts.
A bill regarding irregular workers is pending at the National Assembly. It also allows workers to ask the Labor Relations Commission to give correction orders to companies if workers think they have been discriminated against. If this bill passes, fights about discriminatory acts will abound and businesses will be severely damaged. Companies then will avoid hiring anyone. Who will become the real victims in the end?
The National Human Rights Commission is a governmental body that makes recommendations, not an administrative or judicial body. Does it feel that its recommendations are so weak that it needs to give correction orders? Does it want to become an administrative entity that imposes fines? In the United States, for instance, compulsory measures are decided by the courts.
Many measures have been pushed forward out of idealism, only to fail. If things keep up this way, the draft by the commission is likely to take the same path. The government needs to think about its viability before legalizing the draft.