Iran News ...


5/13/03

NIAC Seeks Meeting with Monster.com

Company policies under fire by leading civil rights attorney

Washington, D.C., May 13, 2003 - The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) announced today that it would seek a meeting with Monster.com, the world's largest online job search and career management company, to establish dialogue that would serve to prevent the company's new policies from unfairly discriminating against individuals based on national origin. Monster.com's new policies prohibit job seekers in seven sanctioned countries from posting resumes, or U.S. residents from seeking work in those countries, which are subject to trade regulations issued by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

 

NIAC's outside legal counsel, Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, has formally requested that Monster.com meet with NIAC representatives about modifying their current policy and preventing further actions by the company that may run afoul of its legal and ethical obligations to protected communities, including individuals from the Iranian American community.

 

In a letter received by Monster this week, Cyrus Mehri, founding partner of Mehri & Skalet and class counsel in two of the largest race discrimination cases in history (Roberts v. Texaco Inc. settled in November 1996 for $176 million and Ingram v. The Coca-Cola Company settled in November 2000 for $192.5 million) stated that, "Monster.com needs to tread carefully in its efforts to 'comply' with trade regulations. The company can be fairly characterized as a 'public accommodation' under emerging case law and is thus bound by Title II of the Civil Rights Act, which entitles all persons to the full and equal enjoyment of services provided by any public accommodation, without discrimination based on national origin."

 

Mr. Mehri, who is currently involved in an effort to level the playing field for minority coaches in the National Football League, stated, "Monster.com has shown too much brawn and too little brain. It is important that Monster.com does not close the door on people based on national origin."

 

On April 24th, Monster.com, with no directive from the OFAC, decided it was in its best interest to remove references to Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria from its standard format for resumes - preventing individual job seekers in these countries, regardless of their nationality, from looking for jobs in the U.S. What Monster.com called a 'technical glitch' in its system also removed these countries from the drop down box under the 'Education' section of online resumes, preventing individuals educated in these countries from listing the locations of the institutions where they were educated.

 

After some negotiations, NIAC received a written guarantee on April 25th that the company would fix this 'technical glitch' and allow job seekers trained in those countries to list their educational information on the site. However, individuals in the sanctioned countries looking for work in the U.S., and those in the U.S. looking for work in the sanctioned countries, will still be affected under the new policy. Despite OFAC's emphatic denial that Monster.com's actions were compelled by applicable regulations and that the agency had not directed the company to make these changes, Monster.com has not been willing to fully retract its policy. "OFAC regulations do not govern speech," said spokesperson Taylor Griffin. "OFAC regulations govern transactions."

 

"We commend Monster.com for retracting and reformulating its initial policy," said Marjan Ehsassi, NIAC executive director. "However, the current policy still continues to disproportionately discriminate our members, many of whom have greatly contributed to the fabric of this nation."

 

Since Monster.com has implemented its new policy, several online job sites, including Careerbuilder.com, have contacted NIAC and informed the organization that they will not follow in Monster.com's footsteps. "Our biggest initiative is diversity and different cultures," said Amado Izaguirre, Careerbuilder.com VP of business development. The company has begun discussions with NIAC on ways to partner together and serve as an alternative career channel for NIAC members and the larger Iranian American community.

 

Two weeks after Monster.com's new policy went into effect, an overwhelming majority of NIAC members requested that legal and legislative action be taken to monitor aspects that still unfairly impact individuals based on national origin, and, at a minimum, are contrary to a national policy that seeks to support the people of Iran, if not its government.

 

Monster.com has received over 1,500 complaint letters in the past three weeks via the NIAC website from Iranian American, as well as non-Iranian American job seekers and business executives who have expressed their sentiments on the negative impact of the company's policy. Many have threatened to boycott Monster.com's services unless the policy is changed.

 

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The National Iranian American Council is a Washington, DC-based non-profit educational organization promoting Iranian-American participation in American civic and political life. For more information, please visit www.niacouncil.org, email NIAC at info@niacouncil.org or send a fax to 202-518-6187. NIAC is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization.  All donations to NIAC are tax-deductible. 

 

... Payvand News - 5/13/03 ... --



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