April 25, 2009
AP -Oyster Bay, ME – In what some experts are calling “the biggest case the affirmative action movement has seen in decades,” a 13th Circuit Judge ruled that The Longshoremen Barbershop Quartet discriminated in its hiring procedures. The case began in late October when a white man, August “Gus” Archibald, applied for an open “Bass singer” position with The Longshoremen. The job ultimately went to Jerome Thompkins of Bangor, ME, a black man. It was proved in court this weekend that The Longshoremen, and the Barbershop Quartet industry as a whole, had been unfairly discriminating against white men in regards to consideration for bass singer positions.
Gus Archibald interviewed for the position and said that he was met with strange-questions that had no relation to the skills required for the job. “They asked me what I thought about Louis Farakhan,” Archibald recounts. “And when I told them that I thought he was a crazy person, they ended the interview on the spot. That’s when I knew something was fishy.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says that no employer may discriminate against potential employees based on race, color, gender, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. The law was instrumental in integrating a segregated workforce together. But the law was typically used to punish and deter white employers from discriminating against black employees.
The defense argued that having a black man in the position of bass singer is a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification, a BFOQ in legal terms, which would make a Barbershop Quartet discriminatory hiring decisions legal. “Black fellas just have deeper & richer voices,” said Tomas Gritle, The Longshoremen’s leader, said in a pleasant alto. “Why should we have to sacrifice quality just to hire a white guy? We’ve already got three of those.”
A series of singing test concluded that Gus’ voice was comparable to Jerome’s and that the decision to hire Jerome had been based purely on race, rendering it illegal. A white person has just as much a right to belong in a Barbershop Quartet as a black man.
This case has rocked the small town of Oyster Bay and most residents are just glad that the terrible drama has ended.
Jerome Thompkins had this to say: “You know…I seriously don’t care. It’s not that big of a deal. I really just do this as a hobby. I guess that the white guy will be putting the “Bop” in the bop-shee-bop now.”