Discrimination at workplace based on gender and ethnicity
Imagine being stuck in the same job without proper compensations, or being thrown out of the job one fine day and being replaced by someone, you know hardly measures up to the fine standards you maintain, just because you do not look good, or you have physical ailments, or the other person is a pretty looking female, and you are a male, or simply because you are being replaced by a younger, ‘energetic’ person, whose age replaces your experience and competence.
This is a thought that scares millions of workers and professionals as they set out for to earn their daily bread and feed their dependants. The thought that this day may be their last day at work and not due to their own fault can be a thought very scaring indeed. The ‘big boss’ literally rules your life and these are things that must change for the better. Is it fair to judge a person and his professionalism solely on the basis of his colour, age, sex, ethnicity, and sexual tendencies?
How does it matter whether I was born in Africa, India or New York; why should it matter if my skin is black, brown or white; is being 45 years old a crime; why should one be prejudiced against if he/she has feelings for the same sex. In the end it should be the professional competence and the attitude to success that should replace these trivial feelings. Work place discrimination encompasses a spectrum of situations.
It may range from sexual discrimination to sexual harassment, even work place bullying. It is pertinent here to define three commonly misinterpreted terms, ‘unlawful discrimination’, ‘unlawful harassment’ and ‘workplace bullying’. As detailed on the Human Rights and Equal Rights Commission (HREOC) website, unlawful discriminations implies a deliberate attempt to sideline a person in favour of others solely because of his age, sex, religion, ethnicity or pregnancy status, and other factors outlined above.
Similarly ‘unlawful harassment’ has been defined in the same website as “Under federal and state legislation unlawful harassment occurs when someone is made to feel intimidated, insulted or humiliated because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin; sex; disability; sexual preference; or some other characteristic specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation”. Work place bullying relates to “the repeated less favourable treatment of a person by another or others in the workplace, which may be considered unreasonable and inappropriate workplace practice.
It includes behaviour that intimidates, offends, degrades or humiliates a worker”. In the text a more detailed analysis with suitable situations will be mentioned. There should not a ‘wrongful termination’, which is the dismissal of an employee, when he did not deserve it. Workplace discrimination on the basis of gender When a deliberate attempt is made to downgrade a person solely on the basis of gender, and this goes against the contractual agreement, it constitutes a ground for appeal (Allison & Taylor, Inc). It may be intended directly or indirectly as unintended rules.
It may be ‘Disparate Treatment Gender Discrimination’, where a person is treated differently simply because of his gender. An example of this could be a situation where a male employee gets a better pay package than his female counterpart on the unfounded premise that he works more than her. It may be the other way round, that a female secretary gets more leaves from the boss, while her male counterpart is denied any leave. A slightly more complex situation is that of ‘Disparate Impact Gender Discrimination’, where there is has been an unintentional process involved.
This can be understood in the context of employment in the armed forces, where though the rules of entry may be the same for both the sexes, yet, for some particular situations, like war, special rules may have been set, such that it becomes difficult for female soldiers to qualify. There may be a frank situation of sexual harassment, where promotions are linked to gaining special favors, usually sexual in nature, from the person of opposite sex. As shown in the cine-film,” Disclosure”, where the female boss deliberately denies opportunity to the male professional, because he refused sexual favors.
There may be harassment from the same sex, where in the female boss, feeling threatened sexually by the entry of a petite secretary or a colleague, deliberately insults her in front of others, in effect creating a ‘hostile environment’. There is an interesting entity known as ‘Quid Pro Quo Harassment (district attorney . com). This refers quiet simply to trade in terms of sexual favors. In this situation the availability of sex is the prime requisite to continue work. It may also mean, that the job is denied to a suitable candidate, if sexual favors are denied.
A hostile environment is one where the employee is challenged mentally and emotionally due to repeated exposure to offensive materials such as crude jokes, pornographic material (HREOC website). This does not allow the employee to settle down to the best of his/ her abilities. Of course, just because offensive language is used, or sexual advances are made, does not qualify simply as workplace discrimination. If such activities are carried out in concert with the said employee, there is no ground for case against the office.
A female employee may readily consent to go out on a date with her colleague, but later if she alleges sexual harassment, this does not constitute ground for appeal. These are some situation of unlawful discrimination. There are other situations like prejudice in selecting a particular employee for promotion, or training, or dismissal. A female employee, doing the same work, may be receiving lesser pay. Under the Equal Pay for Equal Act (Safety. com) every person doing similar work should be paid paid equally.
An interesting aspect is that strictly speaking sex and gender are considered different by pure semantics (workplacefairness. org). Sex is anatomical identity of the person, while gender refers to how the person perceived himself/ herself. Other spectra of workplace discrimination. Discrimination on the basis of age – in the AARP website, a reference to the Age Discrimination in Employee’s Act (ADEA) is mentioned. According to the law, if discrimination has been done to a person above 40 years of age on the basis of his age, it is illegal.
It may be in the form of not being selected for the job inspite of being qualified in favor of a younger person, or it may be denial of promotions on the basis of age. Such a situation may also arise if the older employee is dismissed by the company in favor of a younger person, so that the new employee is paid less. A larger number of Racial discrimination – The colour of the skin of the person, or the company a person keeps, should never constitute grounds for prejudice. Action against someone for dating a person of different culture, constitutes grounds for appeal (www.districtattorney. com).
Pregnancy and marriage discrimination- pregnancy is a temporary disability and is considered so (workplacefairness. org). Any discrimination on the above is wrong and punishable by law. If a female employee is treated differently because of her marriage than one who is married, the affected employee is right in taking action against the employer. Discrimination on basis of nation of origin. In the United Stated, only federal reserved jobs can be advertised as “for US Nationals Only”.
Any other job is open for any individual who has gone through the mandatory requirements of the US Government (districtattorney. com) The opposing view Till now we have considered numerous points against the policy if discrimination, but to better understand the complex situation, a point in favour may also be taken, and indeed valid arguments may be put up. For example, any firm, be it government or private, has the right to employ the best professionals in order to further its interests.
Thus if the company feels, that a person is getting old, and does not enthuse the same enthusiasm as he used to, it may be argued that it is within its rights to employ someone it feels is young and dynamic and ready to face challenges. It thus breeds a feeling of intense competition that brings out the best in the professional, forcing him to work better. This ‘on the edge’ feeling will foster a will to perform better. Hazardous jobs like army, fire fighting service and the police, need tough physical labour and often there is a real threat to the personnel.
It is a fact that men are physically better equipped to face these situations. Thus these institutions may feel that by getting only the best for the job, will help important services like the army and police perform the tasks of fighting and security better. Again the company may feel, that a lady who is pregnant, or who has delivered recently, will not be able to give the commitment that is required. Long hours that a company demands, may not be possible fort the lady. Thus this situation can be argued both ways Summary. It is inhuman to deny a human being the opportunity to succeed in life, and prove himself.
Thus why it should make a difference that he is black, or white, or he is above forty, especially when the person is qualified for his position, is incomprehensible. No argument is possible to defend someone who denies a job to a woman, just because she is married, or has delivered. Pregnancy is a universal truth, how can society be so cruel. All said and done, work place discrimination is a blot on the very existence of society, and all measures, be it legal, or legislative must be taken to ensure that this does not take place.