December 20, 2007

Left-Handed Discrimination?!

A Reader wrote:


I'm currently signed up with Express Personnel, a temp.-hire. Their office in Gresham,OR (suburb outside Portland, where I live) called me yesterday offering a long-term assignment at a fabrication facility. Nothing I hadn't done before.
The dispatcher ran down some of the qualifications for the job, including the use of machines, including drills & table saws. But the "deal-breaker" was that I was LEFT-HANDED! Apparently, & this is according to her, the machines, for some very odd reason, are so precise that they can only be used by people who are RIGHT-HANDED. These machines cannot be adjusted to accommodate someone who's left-handed - apparently this is how the damned things were designed.

Now, warehousing/industrial/manufacturing/assembly/production is my work history, so I've been around, & handled A LOT of different types of machinery. But never have I heard of any equipment that was so user sensitive that they could ONLY be used by RIGHT-HANDED workers, & that such equipment couldn't even be re-adjusted for a worker who just might happen to be LEFT-HANDED!

Bottom line is, I was DENIED job placement for no other conceivable reason in the world, other than the fact that I'm left-handed. I really don't know how else to put it.

Thing is, I've been in a real rough spot as of late. I've been out of work for 3 WEEKS now & have had a Hell of a time trying to get any work. And I was just told that I wouldn't receeve a long-term job assignment all because i am left-handed?! Wtf? I've never even heard of such a thing!

I have a question that might possibly (I'm hoping) be answered by someone who reads this: Is there a LEGAL president for such a thing? Is it actually legal to discriminate against someone because they're LEFT-HANDED?

23 comments:

  1. I haven't been able to find any information about the legality of discriminating against lefties in the U.S. I suspect it is legal, but I'm no lawyer! Here is a link to an article about employment discrimination laws in Oregon that might be helpful: http://tinyurl.com/2v4gmz

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  2. I am not an attorney either but I would suggest calling your local labor relations board and asking them. They may be able to get away with it by claiming that being right handed is a "skill" that the job requires. Employers looking for bilingual applicants use that excuse and it is legal. Ben

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  3. I'll look into all that, thanks so much!

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  4. If you do decide to file a claim, I'd be very interested to have you post the results here. Discrimination against lefties is a subject of vital interest.

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  5. Some tools can be specific to right handers. It's dangerous for left handed people to use certain power saws, for example. Employers would need to buy specific tools for you. Because of left handed people misusing right handed tools, they are more accident prone, causing liability issues for the person hiring you. Here is a website that kind of goes into it:
    http://powertoolstips.net/power-tools/power-tools/000423.html

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  6. Thank you for leaving that link. I'll go over it in detail. But i've used [powered] saws before & it's never been an issue. Plus, i personally am extremely safty-conscious & haven't had an accident myself in 8 years.

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  7. Right, many "left-handed" people can use their right hands with no problem for tools, sports, etc. I use right-handed tools all the time and have never had an accident. I don't turn them upside down, I just use them with my right hand.

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  8. My family is actually half left-handed(me and my mom) half right-handed(sister and dad). My mom and I can't use the chainsaw for when trees fall in hurricanes. I was watching a CSI episode a while back, where someone died because they were a lefty using a chainsaw in their dominant hand, and it kicked back. My righty family members are always looking for tools that we can use. Florian has well made ambidextrous garden tools that are great.

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  9. I've never used a chainsaw before, it's just never been called for. So I'd have no idea that such a thing would be an issue. Never thought of that...

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  10. I have used a chain saw quite often. I'm pretty good with it. The only problem with using it left handed is that the safety button for the trigger is on the left side so a right handed person can press it with the finger tips, so if you're left handed you have use the palm of your left hand to engage it. Just be aware of things like this and you can adapt. You should think of safety first when using any power tools. As far as the "Kick back" is concerned, that can happen to anyone left or right handed if they don't have a kick back protector on the chain saw. It is a safety device that stops the chain from moving when it kicks back. Most if not all chain saws have them. Ben

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  11. Those are the sorts of things one would never think of unless they actually put them into [real life] practice. Still, in just about all situations, it's simply a matter of ADAPTING. It's not as if Left-Handed people "can't" use chain-saws. Ben, thank you for your insight.

    And in case anyone were wondering, I'm working full-time now (& no, being L-H has not been an issue there).

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  12. The industrial panagraph is right hand operation only (it's used for engraving) and when a friend was working for a private mint he suggested that my fine arts background would make me a perfect candidate for the operator's job. I applied and was turned down because I am left-handed. I was told that they actually have a hard time filling that posstion because so many qualified people are left-handed! Legal action isn't warranted because left-handedness isn't a handicap.

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  13. No, it's NO handicap! It's not even an issue, I feel. But it's just pretty stupid & low-down when a person is DENIED EMPLOYMENT because they're Left-Handed!

    So that mint has a hard time filling a position because they keep turning down qualified people. Well POOR THEM!

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  14. Regarding the comment about the mint being allowed to discriminate against lefties because left-handedness isn't a handicap. In the U.S., companies are not allowed to discriminate based on race, religion, or sexual orientation, none of which are handicaps. Perhaps it is time that lefties received similar protection.

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  15. I have been discriminated against my softball coaches and all the girls on my team. They constantly acted as if it was a burden on them for me to be left handed. Not to mention my coaches didn't develop me like they should have because they are to lazy to try and figure out how to coach me. I also play guitar, and was thinking about how unfair it is that left handed guitars cost more money. Why is this? I don't think it is fair that just because we are different than most, shouldn't mean that we have to suffer with paying more money for the same product.

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  16. I have a left handed question. I work in a warehouse. The "pickers" follow on a track where they have trays on the left and then pick items from their right. Using the (right) dominant hand it is a easy fast process. However if using the left hand, it requires that you stop, pivot and end up facing the wrong way as you pick the parts. Is there a way to refuse a position because it is not accommidating to a lefty?

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  17. Samantha, it may depend on the laws in your state. If you belong to a union, your union representatives may have information on this issue. From your description, I'm not sure why you have to pivot. If the tray is on the right and you want to grab something with your left hand, wouldn't you be reaching across your body and perhaps turning just slightly? Otherwise, it seems to me that most lefties are able to pick things up with the right hand. While it may not be the dominant hand, it isn't completely useless, either. You might want to try practicing a little bit to see if it can be done.

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  18. For a left hander or right hander being retrained to use the secondary hand involves rewiring of the brain. Researchers have discovered such rewiring can cause dyslexia and other issues. Telling left handers to just use their right hand and get used to it is not acceptable. The remarks of many right handers are akin to someone telling black people that white people are in the minority so they better just get used to it. Discrimination is when people say someone is at fault for who they are biologically.

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  19. 'minority' should have read 'majority' but I'm sure you figured that out.

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  20. GPHX - I am not a right hander. I am left-handed. I am not suggesting that lefties switch to being righties. But unless you are a one-handed person, you actually do use both hands. In the USA, if you drive a car with a standard transmission, you shift gears with your right hand. In England, you shift gears with your left hand. This applies to both lefties and righties, and it doesn't seem to cause widespread problems in either country. Piano players use both hands at the same time, and the left hand part is often just as complex as the right hand part. Studies have shown that both left handed and right handed people will pick up random objects with the hand that is closest to the object, whether or not it's the dominant hand. This is actually normal. Don't discriminate against people by trying to stereotype them and force them into limited roles. In any case, there is no harm in trying something (under safe conditions, of course) to see if it works. We should be expanding our lives, not narrowing them.

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  21. I think this whole left-hand discrimination is ridiculous. I might not be old enough to understand the problems it would cause at work, but in sports, I get how stupid it is. I was on a lot of teams, but I quit because they were telling me I was doing everything wrong and trying to make me switch to right-handed whatever. So I quit. I'd told them enough that no one was making them do the left-handed way, so why would I switch? I doesn't make any sense, does it?

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  22. Has anyone had a problem with a desk being set up for a righty? I have just been told that these desks are for both lefties and righties.
    I don't think the desk is the problem, it's where the desk is situated.

    My left hand is against the wall and I have tried to get used to it, but I can't seem to get used to it. My human resource people refuse to change the desk (more the location).

    What's my next step? This is a major insurance company.

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  23. Sue the hell out of them. We have been discriminated against more then any race or gender. We have been stoned to death burnt to death for thousands of years because people believed we was posed by the devil. Its time we have our time. I know this is old but I hope you did. My Grand mother had her left hand tied behind her back in Catholic school because they believed she was posed by the devil. Screw the race and gender thing they know nothing about the thousands of years we have been murdered for being different.

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