Legal Aspects of Fire Protection
The law protects the right of every employee despite the differences in gender, race, or occupation. In spite of the law protection, there are various factors that hinder employees’ wellbeing. Some workers face discrimination in the workplace, and they do not have any power to solve this problem. Just like the other occupations, firefighting deals with similar issues associated with ineffective whistleblowers protection, poor management of firefighters unions, and discrimination.
The United States Constitution provides workers with constitutional rights that include: the freedom of press and religion, free speech, and equal protection. Working institutions do not always observe that the cases of discrimination in the workplace are evident. It may occur directly or indirectly creating a disparate treatment or impact. Disparate treatment is an indirect way of discrimination where the employer offers apparently authentic reasons for not awarding a job to a person in a protected class (Varone, 2012). It depends on the employee to determine whether the stated reason was real. The victim can prove that the case was discriminatory if other employees with a similar case, but not in the protected class, were received a different treatment. For instance, a firefighter may deny woman a particular promotion by stating a reason that she has a poor health status, but he will give it to a male employee with the same health status as the female worker.
In its turn, disparate impact happens when employment decisions seem to be nondiscriminatory, but the effects of discrimination are reflected in statistics. Apart from the hidden type of discrimination, firefighters also experience open discrimination in terms of gender and race. There are cases where the New York City had to settle a suit in claims that the firefighting departments in the city discriminated against African Americans and Hispanics (Dave, 2014). Moreover, women in firefighting department have continued to face challenges that could have been solved many years ago (Russo, 2013). With the high discriminatin, they leave this industry to pursue other careers leaving no mentors for future females there.
The other problem the firefighters face is the effectiveness of the collective negotiating power. They have the rights to form unions. However, collective bargaining powers in the private and public sectors differ immensely. Public employees do not have rights to bargain collectively except for those workers in New Jersey and Florida. At times, the bargaining powers of workers are interjected by political interests of governance creating problems rather than solving the existing ones (Sherk, 2007). Also, firefighters may give support to a particular official based on the political background of the individual. As a result, the officials end up exerting political pressure on the unions. Other problems that affect the bargaining power of firefighters include impasse disputes. These conflicts occur when both sides of negotiation fail to come to terms. Sometimes, the unions cannot reach an agreement with the employers despite bargaining in good faith (Varone, 2012).
In the United States, it is a requirement for any state to be free to formulate its codes, rules, or regulations in the firefighting section. This action takes place as different states have different issues and different characters of residents. Upon the states design of the codes, rules, and regulations, they submit them to the national department for approval. For example, for the past 100 years there have been several cases of people dying of the fire. Most of these incidents resulted from the people overcrowding in the exit areas leading to a stampede. Therefore, some of the states require new rules in the architectural processes for building houses to have emergency exits. This case with many others makes to the national government, but passing and implementing the rules becomes a lengthy procedure. Even upon approval, there is a long process of informing the citizen about the new codes. Residents also take time to learn and implement the passed laws. These processes prevent the firefighters fromm making the necessary moves to save individuals from the fire scenes. Codes refer to the interest of every person including the physically challenged people, children under age, the senior citizens, and much more. Codes for these minor groups call for the implementation of some activities like building rams and preventing some groups of people like children from crowded areas.
Whistleblowers keep the public alerted and made the companies they work in to have proper arrangements for the activities they do. These actions are not ethical in the perspective of the companies the people work, but they are good to the public. Sarbanes law protects these whistleblowers and provides a better arena for them to air their views without intimidation. In the current world of improved technology, people use the social media platform to pass and convene messages to the others. In the government related and controlled institutions like the firefighting department, it is very hard to record some unethical practices and go unpunished. There is chain of command which defines who to communicate to the press or in the media. This case creates problems as the public does not get enough information on the incidences.
The government should introduce reforms to increase the number of minority fighters to solve the discrimination problem. Races such as Hispanic and African American need to be equally represented in the fire department labor force. The government should also offer incentives that would help in training the minority groups to be more skilled, and, as a result, avoid discrimination in gender, race, or religion. Another solution is to develop an organization culture where firefighting organizations create a supportive environment for women and other minorities. There should be strict laws prohibiting discrimination in the employment process.
Firefighters unions should develop sound management systems that will ensure that members select officials without basing their choices on political issues. The union should also develop well-defined procedures for settling disputes.