For the past couple of years, I've been a graphic designer doing layout for a politically-left newspaper (which I don't want to mention by name) with a long history (over 80 years) and a party affiliation to the left of the democratic party. When I took the job, I couldn't envison a time where the politics of the paper would get me into hot water -- history notwithstanding.

Well, today I had a job interview -- one of several I've been on in the last few weeks. Wanting to stay in publishing, I applied for a job for a magazine with a far different political viewpoint -- one that caters to law enforcement.

Follow me below.

Yeah, I thought it was quite a jump too, but the money was a substantial raise from the paltry sum that I've been eeking by on.

To prepare for the interview, I heavily censored my portfolio, removing copies of the paper that skewed "too" liberal -- opting for less radical headlines on labor, Katrina survivors and Women's History Month. I was planning on presenting my portfolio to the employeer, glossing over the radical politics and never mentioning the political affiliations, but.....

It was a tag-team interview; the editor grilled me while the Director of Opperations viewed my portfolio on his own, without my input. He took out the first paper -- the headline covering the recent immigration marches across the country -- and began to page through it. After a few minutes he asked, "so, how closely do your political views match that of this paper?"

I couldn't believe I was being asked to defend my political views during a job interview. But if Alito could claim that he was "just representing the viewpoints of his client, [the government]," I thought I'd try the same. I blurted out something about my left-leaning politics, while simultaneously trying to distance myself from the more radical views of the paper. Later, I wished I had just said "I'm a registered Democrat," and left it at that. But it was too late; I had said "left-leaning" and that was all he needed to hear.

I felt the blood rise into my face -- surely this had to be illegal -- I wasn't really just asked about my political views during a job interview? Infuriated, I spent the rest of the interview mentally crushing his head, not believing I could be so naive.

At the end of the interview, he voiced his disgust with the political views of the paper again, while admiting that I was chosen as a highly-qualified candidate from over 250 resumes.

Earlier I had name-dropped a few police officers I knew in my neighborhood, and he used that to get his last lick in, saying, "I should have asked you if you had ever been ARRESTED by any of those police officers, given your political views." Because, you know, anyone who hates George Bush, hates America, and has obvious criminal leanings.

I literally screamed in the car on the way home, at the top of my lungs. I called my friends and vented. I got online and checked the EEOC website, only to find out that political affiliation is not a protected class for discrimination claims. But the point is, I was weeded out because of my political views -- and more accurately, the political views of my currrent employer. The days of McCarthism are alive and well.

Then it occured to me that whether a class is protected or not, people get "weeded out" for all manner of things, from their skin color to thieir age, sexual orientation or gender. And I have to believe that this has happened to me too, but without my knowledge. I think what really struck me was how brazen he was about it -- making it abundantly clear that only right-wing koolaid drinkers need apply for this job.

I know what you're thinking, that I'm better off not working for people like this. True. But I have to wonder if my affiliation with my current employer has gotten me blackballed from more than one job. And how long will it take this "highly qualified" applicant to overcome this seeming handicap.

Originally posted to valleycat on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 04:19 PM PST.

Your Email has been sent.