Calling a ‘Karen’ when there’s no Access to Justice

At the end of December, the Washington Post published an article — Cutting through customer service doom-loops by calling in a ‘Karen’ — about people with little time or social capital hiring “a Karen” to advocate of their behalf and resolve an issue around money or documents or property that they deserve from a company or institution which has wronged them.

As I read this article, my mind jumped to an article recommended by Anne Helen Peterson that was published a day after, called Southwest Airlines’ Christmas Meltdown Shows How Corporations Deliberately Pit Consumers Against Low-Wage Workers. The article’s byline is, “Our system is set up to create mutual antagonism between members of the working class. Meanwhile, faceless corporate executives remain shielded like mob bosses” if you needed any additional context.

The authors of both these articles recognize that the use of lawyers to advocate on behalf of a person suffering from corporate wrong-doing is generally out of the realm of possibility for most consumers. Is this an Access to Justice issue?

It also makes me wonder: how are we otherwise going to collectively respond? We know that we can only do this collectively, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many Twitter posts from frustrated people trying to shame companies into behaving as if they are taking accountability for their actions.

I don’t have a good answer to this question. I do know that consumer unions exist, like the Consumers Association of Canada, but I’ve only just started reading up on their history. I’m also still early in my pursuit of better understanding how class actions work.

There is a pressing follow up question as well: who is going to capitalize on the anger towards our governments who are uninterested and/or unable to confront misbehaving or negligent corporations on our behalf?

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