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Congressman can't help guy badgered by EEOC


Whatever happens to Hans Morsbach, the Chicago restaurant owner being hounded by federal bureaucrats, he's now had his case brought to the attention of Congress.

Rep. John Porter, normally one of our quieter legislators, stood up the other day and raised some hell about the way Morsbach is being treated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Porter compared the methods used by the EEOC to those of the Spanish Inquisition.

He said: "Chicagoans have been following the EEOC's work . . . and frankly they're mad, and they have a right to be mad.

"Recently in Chicago, a restaurant owner, Hans Morsbach, was notified by the EEOC in writing that he was guilty of hiring discrimination. The letter explained that because he placed an ad with a hiring agency for someone who was 'young' and 'bub,' he is guilty of age discrimination.

". . . Morsbach was informed by the EEOC that he must hire four people over the age of 40, give them back pay and seniority and post a notice in his restaurant stating that he will no longer discriminate because of age.

"The EEOC has decided he is guilty and determined his sentence, and if he doesn't comply he will be hauled into court and must hire an attorney to defend himself. What really galls, however, is that he's prevented from knowing anything about the genesis of the charge against him because the EEOC refuses to give him any information on this, citing confidentiality.

"Well, Morsbach didn't place any such ad with a hiring agency and his hiring record is an excellent one. He has employed a very diverse group of individuals in his restaurant. Morsbach doesn't know what hiring agency is involved, when the incident occurred, or what the word 'bub' means. Regardless, Morsbach must invest time and resources when he goes to court to prove his innocence.

"This is crazy. It's crazy that out of the blue comes a charge that the accused knows nothing about. It's crazy that the agency deems him guilty but at the same time refuses to tell him anything about the charges against him. And crazy that his only recourse is an expensive court proceeding.

"This is an important agency charged with the role of protecting the civil rights of employees and protecting them against discrimination. These are important considerations for this country.

"But in this case apparently, and apparently in many others, it proceeds like the Spanish Inquisition. This is not right. This matter should be looked into and corrected."

Porter deserves praise for taking up Morsbach's cause. But was anybody listening?

Probably not. His speech came while his fellow congressmen were in the midst of figuring out ways to spend hundreds of billions of tax dollars. So it's hard to get congressmen interested in one restaurant owner's problems when they are whooping it up with tons of our money.

When Porter finished his speech, I actually believed that the next voice would be that of Rep. Bobby Rush.

Why Rush? Because Morsbach's restaurants are in Rush's South Side congressional district. If anyone was going to bat for Morsbach, it definitely should have been his very own congressional representative.

But, no, if Rush was in the chamber, he didn't say anything. And so far, he has apparently shown no interest in Morsbach's problems.

So Morsbach, who lives and works in one of Chicago's most liberal Democratic neighborhoods, wound up being defended only by Porter, a Republican from the North Shore suburbs. Go figure. Or maybe Rush should go figure.

Will the arrogant bureaucrats at the EEOC be influenced by what Porter said? You might imagine that being publicly lambasted by a member of Congress would get their attention.

Probably not. There were times in our history when one congressman could make bureaucrats tremble. But no longer. We have a federal bureaucracy that is so entrenched, so secure, so safe from outside scrutiny and discipline, that it doesn't appear to care what anyone says.

Consider the Chicago Post Office scandal. A bureaucrat spends a fortune building herself a luxury office suite in a building that will soon be torn down. Is she fired? No, she is transferred because the bureaucratic rules make firing her almost an impossibility.

At the same time, the firing-proof, criticism-proof bureaucrats at the EEOC can find someone like Morsbach guilty of discrimination without being required to show him the evidence, give him a genuine hearing, or let him confront his accuser.

So here we have a congressman saying that the way a government agency operates is "crazy."

What will the EEOC say? Based on my experience with the EEOC, it will say nothing. It doesn't have to say anything. The bureaucrats are secure in their paychecks, medical benefits, vacations, pensions and a civil service system that makes it almost impossible to fire anyone.

And we're paying for it, which is the height of craziness.

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