Discrimination at Workplace
Introduction Have you ever been treated or looked at differently because of your race, gender, religion, social rank or any other attribute? If you did, then you must have experienced one type of discrimination. So, what do we mean by discrimination? In general, discrimination is the judgment of qualities and recognition of the differences between things, and it comes in different forms and frames. At” workplace discrimination occurs when an employee suffers from unfavorable or unfair treatment due to their race, religion, national origin, disabled or veteran status, or other legally protected characteristics.
Employees who have suffered reprisals for opposing workplace discrimination or for reporting violations to the authorities are also considered to be discriminated against”(Allbusiness, 2010:1). Many countries, in particular the modern and developed ones, issued decrees and laws that prohibits discrimination in work-related areas, such as recruiting, hiring, job evaluations, promotion policies, training, compensation and disciplinary action Direct vs. Indirect
Workplace discrimination can be characterized as direct or Indirect. Direct discrimination involves treating someone less favorably because of their possession of an attribute (e. g. , gender, age, race, beliefs, socio-economical status, national origin, disability, etc…), compared with someone without that attribute in the same circumstances. An example of direct discrimination would be not offering a job to a woman because she is likely to take maternity leave whereas a man is not.
Indirect discrimination involves setting a condition or requirement which a smaller proportion of those with the attribute are able to comply with, without reasonable justification. Types of workplace Discrimination As mentioned earlier, workplace discrimination happens when some employee suffers unjust treatment, perception of or even interaction with, due to the fact of a physical attribute of the offended prejudiced by the discriminator. Among various types of discrimination, researchers and specialists identified five main discriminated attributes at workplace: Race, Gender, Age, beliefs, and disability. While discrimination occurs in a variety of workplace environments, certain organizations may be structured in ways that increase the likelihood of biased treatment and subordination of employees occupying lower social status positions”( Wizdom Powell Hammond et al, 2010) 1. Race discrimination Racial discrimination differentiates between individuals on the basis of real and perceived racial differences, and has been official government policy in several countries, such as South Africa in the apartheid era, and the USA.
For example, a black employee may suffer illegal discrimination, if working in a white dominant environment, just because of his racial attributes, like color, structure and others that don’t fit the majority. Many researchers found out that racial discrimination is by far the most obvious type of discrimination and contributes to a major stake of discrimination cases and lawsuits. Another obvious example is of Arab immigrants in western countries, who suffered increasing discrimination after 9/11 due to the fact that terrorists behind 9/11 were Arabs.
Nowadays, countries with growing economies attract various ethnic groups to come and work together. This results in more discrimination issues floating on the surfaces with no governing law framing this type of malice. For example, in Gulf countries like UAE, Saudi and others race discrimination is tolerated with absence of rules and acts prohibiting such behaviors and polices within organizations. “There is a lot of discrimination according to race in the labour market, which affects the contribution of those who suffer from it.
They feel dissatisfied and this reflects in their work and affects the lives of sometimes large families in the UAE and abroad. ” (Charles Stratford,2009) 2. Gender discrimination Gender or Sex discrimination is discrimination against a person or group on the basis of their sex or gender. Currently, discrimination based on sex is defined as adverse action against another person that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. This is considered a form of prejudice and is illegal in certain specified circumstances in most countries. Sexual discrimination can arise in different contexts.
For instance an employee may be discriminated against by being asked discriminatory questions during a job interview, or because an employer did not hire, promote or wrongfully terminated an employee based on his or her gender, or employers pay unequally based on gender or sexually harass an employee. Socially, sexual differences have been used to justify societies in which one sex or the other has been restricted to significantly inferior and secondary roles. While there are non-physical differences between men and women, there is little agreement as to what those differences are.
Unfair discrimination usually follows the gender stereotyping held by a society. The United Nations had concluded that women often experience a “glass ceiling” and that there are no societies in which women enjoy the same opportunities as men. The term “glass ceiling” describes the process by which women are barred from promotion by means of an invisible barrier.  In the United States, the Glass Ceiling Commission has stated that between 95 and 97 percent of senior managers in the country’s biggest corporations are men.
Transgendered individuals, both male to female and female to male, often experience problems which often lead to dismissals, underachievement, difficulty in finding a job, social isolation, and, occasionally, violent attacks against them. 3. Age Discrimination Age discrimination is something that the average worker knows very little about. Although, anyone who lives to be middle aged will have a good chance of experiencing an age bias act, age discrimination is a non-issue to most people. This attitude is reflected in the literature that is available on the subject. There is very little information about age discrimination.
Most of the information is about workers’ legal rights and it is accompanied by much advertising of available legal services. Typical actions might include refusing to hire or promote older workers, playing with their employee benefits, limiting their training opportunities or limiting their job responsibilities and duties. Older workers may be targeted in reductions of the work force; they may be encouraged to retire. Exit incentive programs may deny valuable additional benefits to an older worker and early retirement incentives may pressure older workers to retire early.
Incentive benefits may be reduced for people who continue working beyond “normal” retirement age. All of these actions reinforce a stereotype of older workers as the most dispensable in the workforce. Various words and phrases may be used to disguise an age bias. Some examples of this are saying that a worker costs too much, has been with the company too long, lacks versatility, is unable to adapt to new methods or technologies, lacks energy or has failed to be a forward enough thinker.
In addition, decisions that are not directly based on age may have a disparate effect on older workers such as policies related to length of service or years of seniority. Some of the thoughts behind age biased actions are that older workers should move aside to make room for younger workers who need to support families, that they are less competent, and that there’s no point in training them for new jobs. There is also an idea that younger managers do not really want to work with older workers no matter how good their skills. 4.
Beliefs Religious discrimination at the workplace is still one of the biggest challenges facing many countries around the world, especially here in Canada and in the USA. Even through religious discrimination has been an illegal factor, it still happens very frequently. The laws against religious discrimination give employers a really hard time. On one hand, you can’t make employment decisions based on a person’s religion. On the other, you might have to take an employee’s religion into account when making certain workplace decisions.
The law prohibits you from discriminating based on the fact of someone’s religion beliefs (for example, that an employee is Catholic, Jewish, or Muslim). You can’t refuse to hire someone because he or she is Jewish; you can’t promote someone because he or she is Christian. Same thing with the working days, you must work with your employees to make it possible for them to practice their religious beliefs on their days. This might mean not scheduling an employee who is Jewish to work Saturday because of their belief that Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath.
This is the day that they go to the synagogue. Discrimination can happen anywhere, and it can take many forms. Some people mistakenly believe that it can only affect people of ethnic minority groups, but discrimination can happen to anyone. In addition to race, anti-discrimination laws also protect people against discrimination on the basis of age, gender, marital status, among others. In the workplace, discrimination frequently takes place when a company is hiring and firing. It is illegal for an employer to fire an employee just because of that person’s religion and what they believe in.
Taking it to a higher level, a employer might deny employees raises, promotions, or opportunities for training simply because of their religion. If you have faced discrimination in the workplace because of your spiritual beliefs, you are entitled to stand up for your rights. There are laws that you need to know about and you can actually protect yourself from Religious Discrimination at the Workplace. 5. Disability discrimination People with disabilities face discrimination in all levels of society. The attitude that disabled individuals are inferior to non-disabled individuals is called “ableism”.
Chronic pain is a debilitating condition which is often neglected in modern society. According to the American Chiropractic Association, over 50% of all working US citizens complain of back pain each year. An estimated 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their life. Many times pain can become chronic and debilitating. Ergonomic seating and work environments are not only be a reasonable accommodation for those who suffer, they are also a preventative measure to counteract the soaring cost of medical treatment for pain conditions.
Ergonomic seating in all public institutions would be a positive step to providing access to public services for all those who need it. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act provides guidelines for providing wheelchair access for public institutions, but ergonomic devices for those who suffer from pain are something that has yet to be implemented. This is just one of many accessibility issues still faced by disabled individuals. Disabled people may also face discrimination by employers.
They may find problems with securing employment as their handicap can be seen as a risk to the company, and once in employment they may find they are overlooked for promotion opportunities. Similarly, if an employee becomes disabled while employed they may also find themselves being managed out the company by HR departments. Unsympathetic employers can make life very difficult for such employees and can often make their health problems worse. Disability discrimination laws mean that in theory the employee has a method of redress in such instances.
Effects of workplace discrimination Workplace discrimination is a common cause of the nation’s skyrocketing unemployment rate. If a company does not hire women, then the female applicant does not get the job. The same reasoning applies to all of the aforementioned categories affected by workplace discrimination. These individuals are without job opportunities and therefore unemployed. The discriminated party is usually smart enough to know why he wasn’t hired. This instills anger and hurt in him. How he releases these feelings may result in violence.
His self-esteem is shattered and he unleashed his negativity on those around him. Many mass murder and domestic violence cases are a result of workplace discrimination. An employee subject to workplace discrimination is apt to lose interest in his duties and in the company. For example: He’s of a different race than his peers, who make subtle inappropriate jokes about his culture. He tells his supervisor, who waves it off, stating,”Oh, that’s nothing. ” This sends his morale into a downward spiral, which results in lack of productivity. Workplace discrimination can have harsh effects on the psyche.
When hopelessness sets in, he feels unworthy and like a failure–he thinks it’s all his fault. His drive to succeed is elusive and he gives up on life. This deteriorating stage can lead to severe depression. Treatments and solutions Know what is legally defined as workplace discrimination. Making derogatory remarks about a group of people or making hiring decisions based on a protected-class characteristic are discriminatory acts. It is also considered discrimination to withhold raises and promotions or terminate a person based on his class or refusal to perform sexual acts.
Learn the protected classes covered by anti-discrimination laws. A protected class is a group of people against whom it is illegal to discriminate based on a common characteristic. It is illegal to discriminate due to: race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability, color, political affiliation or veteran or familial status. In some areas, it is also illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation, though it is not a federal violation. Avoid workplace discrimination by developing a no-tolerance policy in regard to harassment and discrimination.
Put the policy in writing and require every employee to read it. Have each employee sign a form indicating that she has been provided with a copy of the policy and keep these forms in personnel files. Establish a procedure for filing complaints. The procedure should outline to whom complaints should be made and how they can be heard confidentially. It should also define an action plan for investigating complaints thoroughly and promptly. Discuss the anti-discrimination policy in detail with your employees. Give clear examples of incidences of discrimination and share the consequences for such actions.
At the same time, provide employees with the procedure to follow in order to file an internal grievance. Provide diversity and sexual harassment training for all employees. Such training further clarifies what types of behavior are inappropriate. It will also provide strategies and solutions as to how a diverse workplace can function together as an effective team. Discrimination in Lebanon Although the Lebanese Constitution provides for a discrimination-free workplace, yet discrimination is widely spread in a country that has no identified policy for the workplace and workforce.
Discrimination is experienced at levels and in all forms. Ranging from religious backgrounds, race, gender, disability to other types and forms, resulting in unjust standards in every aspect of employment and employee related issues. In mid 90s the Lebanese government submitted a detailed report to the Human Rights Committee on discrimination and observed in paragraph 7 of their report that “no provision of Lebanese law makes a distinction between races or between individuals on the grounds of colour, language, political opinions, social origin, birth or fortune”.
Yet, “Equality Now Association” notes that the government makes no mention of distinction between individuals on the basis of sex. In paragraph 19, the government does acknowledge that “progress still needs to be made in ensuring equality between men and women,” but does not clearly indicate any measures which will be taken to promote such needed progress. Conclusion
Finally, whether discriminated against your color, religion, nationality, or gender, discrimination is considered to be one of the most threatening factors to economy development and social development as well. Majority of people suffered at least one type of discrimination in their lifetime, which shaped their perception to the workplace and as Clarence Thomas said:”Any discrimination, like sharp turns in a road, becomes critical because of the tremendous speed at which we are traveling into the high-tech world of a service economy”.
Bibliography 1. All business(2010) ‘understanding workplace discrimination” http://www. allbusiness. com [accessed 5th may, 2010] 2. Wizdom Powell Hammond & Marion Gillen & Irene H. Yen (2010) ‘Workplace Discrimination and Depressive Symptoms’ Race and Social Problems. 2(1) pp. 19-30 3. Charles Stratford. (2009) ‘Discrimination: a big issue’ Gulf News. 18(20) pp. 41-43