Overview of Employment Discrimination

Day 1



America prides itself as the land of opportunities, the melting pot of different cultures.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? In some respects, America has increased its tolerance to diversity. Over the years, there has been a marked improvement in minority representation in different social sectors across the states. But is it safe to assume that discrimination is already non-existent, especially in the workplace?

Sadly, employment discrimination still exists. There are still numerous discrimination-related cases presented in our courts. Sometimes, preconceived biases influence employers in their decision to hire, give benefits, increase salaries, promote, and/or terminate employees. Even job advertisements exclude other groups from consideration.

Who are discriminated against?
- ethnic groups (Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Native Americans)
- colored (African-Americans)
- religious groups (whose beliefs contradict the employers’)
- women
- people with different national origins
- people with disability
- mature people
- homosexuals

Discrimination can also extend to those who file discrimination complaints and challenge the company’s discriminatory practices.

You might wonder “Why are they being discriminated?” Because society has associated these groups with unfounded stereotypes, and some employers tend to subscribe to these misconceptions. Consequently, they would have misgivings in hiring them. Some are simply not prepared to accept people who are “different” from them.

Discarding applications, withholding benefits, suppressing career advancement, and terminating without due cause are just some examples of discriminatory practices.

“That’s unfair!”, you might say. Of course it is! But don’t worry, living in a democratic government means that we have individual rights. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal laws that proscribe discrimination in the workplace. Violations of these laws could be disastrous to companies who stubbornly foster discrimination.

These are just some of the issues that will be discussed in detail in this course in the coming days.

The following is a rundown of some of the most important anti-discrimination policies covered by federal laws.

- Unless it is required for the company to have its employees speak English at all times, employees should not be forced to speak in English in the workplace all the time

- Employers have to request citizenship documents from its employees to ensure that they are allowed to work in the U.S. This requirement should be demanded not only from immigrants or foreigners, but all applicants and employees.

- Employers must allow its employees to exercise their religious beliefs, as long as they do not cause any trouble to the company.

- Sexual harassment, or asking for sexual favors, within the workplace is strictly prohibited.

- Pregnancy is parallel to temporary illness. Pregnant women should be treated with a degree of leniency.

- Unless it is proven that a certain age is unqualified for a particular job, no age limit should be indicated in job advertisements Old people who participated in apprenticeship programs should not be disqualified. Old employees should not be deprived of benefits.

- Under the Equal Pay Act, employers cannot compromise the salaries of opposite sexes just to balance them. (e.g. they cannot decrease the salaries of women (just) to equal the salaries of the men.)

- Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation must be provided for employees with disability, in such a way that these people would be able to cope with the workplace environment.

- As long as applicants with disability have the necessary skills for a particular job, their condition should not hinder them in getting employed.

Tomorrow, we will focus on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Until then.

For further reading, visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website




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