Through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created to enforce federal employment laws.

Day 2

Through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created to enforce federal employment laws.

This discussion will focus on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 According to the EEOC, this act “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.”

First, let’s talk about the most common - racial discrimination

The truth is, a person’s skills can’t be determined by the race he belongs to or the color of his skin. So why treat ethnic groups and colored people any less?

Under the law, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Native-Americans, and other people of foreign descent cannot be denied their right to earn a living. They cannot be discriminated against in all aspects of employment

What are these employment aspects?

Hirings - Employers should be color blind during screening of applicants, and focus on the individual merits rather than race.
Promotions - They shouldn’t be restrained in reaching their ultimate potential.
Wages - Consider two persons in the same position and the same level of experience, and the white man gets a higher pay over the black man? How could that be?
Firings - Unless an employee violates company policies, how absurd is to fire someone just because of his race?
Use of facilities - The “Whites Only” signboard is prohibited.
Benefits - They should share the same set of benefits as the other employees. Is there a rule that allows favoritism?

Furthermore, employers should foster an environment free from racial discrimination. A company can’t sit back while some of its employees whip their co-workers with racial slurs, or while some mock a certain race. Anti-discrimination policies should be strictly implemented.

Now, let’s proceed with another hot topic - sex discrimination

The so-called “battle of the sexes” also occurs in the workplace.

Under the law, one’s gender should not be a factor for discrimination. An employer should treat both genders equally, and give them equal opportunities in all the employment aspects mentioned above. An employer should not give any preference towards any gender.

Sexual harassment is also prevalent. EEOC defines it in two ways:
1) asking for sexual favors in exhange for employment (this for that)
2) sexual conduct that promotes a hostile environment (where perversion affects the employees’ performance)

Michael Chrichton’s novel, “Disclosure”, is a perfect example as it tackles sexual harassment in the workplace.

As long as pregnancy does not affect a woman’s ability to work efficiently, employers should not treat pregnant employees and applicants differently. They should be granted fringe benefits (leaves, medicare, life insurance, retirement pay) and they should not be deprived of their right to work by firing them or asking them to take a leave.

Pregnancy is the counterpart of the temporary disability benefits given to males, so they should receive equal benefits too.

Let’s move on to religious discrimination

Again, religion cannot be used to discriminate in the workplace. The law allows freedom of religion, and employees should be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs at work.

The company should provide what is termed as “religious accomodation” For example, it wouldn’t hurt to allow Muslim women to wear their veils during work. That wouldn’t cause an “undue hardship” to the company. If the religious practice wouldn’t be a burden to the employer and other employees, then that shouldn’t be a problem.

However, the company is not required to build a separate room in the office where Muslims can pray five times a day. That would be undue hardship.

The last factor, which is discrimination based on national origin, is closely knit with race and color. Under the law, this is applicable to employers with 15 or more employees. Company policies and requirements which suggest discrimination, like imposing a “speak English at all times” rule, is in violation of the law.

There is an exception though. If having employees speak solely in English at work increases work efficiency, (say, in a call center) then that could be allowed.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow you’ll learn about the second federal law, which is the Equal Pay Act.

For further reading, visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website

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