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Workplace discrimination in 2019

How does workplace discrimination take place, and what elements qualify as discrimination towards job applicants or employees? Workplace discrimination occurs when a job applicant or an employee receives unfair treatment due to their identities, such as race, the nation of origin, gender, skin color, age, religion, or even disability.

The illegality of Employment Discrimination

workplace discrimination
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Discrimination against one person due to their religion, race, the nation of origin, or even gender in the workplace or when hiring is an illegal act. Contractors and subcontractors alike with federal institutions should take stern action to safeguard employment opportunities to be equal for everyone without hindrance by these factors. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) serves the primary purpose of enforcing Executive Order 11246.

Additionally, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stipulates under Title VII that discrimination is unlawful when hiring, promoting, referring, or firing employees, and in all other aspects of employment based on their race, color, sex, religion or original nationality. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces this right.

Discrimination and Harassment

Harassment can be referred to as a form of discrimination. There are various forms of harassment, such as when either a co-worker, client, boss or any other person in the workplace shows unwelcome behavior towards another person due to their religion, color, race, age, nationality, disability, sex (even pregnancy) or genetic origin. Harassment can occur when other workplaces make fun of someone in an unwelcome manner.

It is noteworthy that any aspect of employment can encounter discriminatory instances. Using stereotypes to make assumptions and judgments at work is illegal. For example, an employer might assume that because one lives with a disability, that they are incapable of doing certain tasks. Also, companies should not restrict employment opportunities to employees based on their relationships with other people, such as same-sex partners.

Types of Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination in the workplace can happen when an individual is treated negatively due to various factors. Besides the reasons mentioned earlier, job applicants and employees could face discrimination for being pregnant, due to their genetic information or having a disability, and perhaps because of their personal/romantic relationship.

The following list indicates various grounds on which workplace discrimination happen. It also gives scenarios of discrimination and provides ways with which to handle these discriminatory issues.

  • Age

  • Ethnicity

  • Race

  • Gender

  • National Origin

  • Color of the skin

  • Physical or mental disability

  • Original nationality

  • Genetic make up

  • Sexual orientation

  • Parenthood or pregnancy

  • Friendship/ romantic relationship with a target for discrimination.

Examples of Discrimination in the workplace

Employment discrimination can manifest itself in any of the following ways:

  • Making suggestions for preferred applicants in a job opportunity posting

  • Doing away with certain employees based on the reasons mentioned above when recruiting

  • Restricting certain workplace benefits or compensations to certain employees that fall under the discriminated categories

  • Failing to assign maternity leave, disability leave and even retirement leave to those who need

  • Sabotaging the usability of company and workplace facilities or denying access to them based on the prejudices named

  • Discriminating when firing or when giving promotions

While different forms of discrimination can be demeaning, hurtful, and even affect one’s motivation to work, it is vital to learn how to safeguard oneself against these cases. Managers should help with dealing with discrimination by paying attention to any complaints employees bring up, not picking favorites, ensuring to respond quickly and keeping the workplace formal in following the policies. There should also be regular workshops to teach employees on how to steer clear of discriminatory acts, and how to help oneself when faced by such a situation.

Employees also need to mind what they say to others, as a simple remark might cascade into troublesome emotional distress. Although people should be themselves freely, it is more important to remain sensitive, knowledgeable, and careful about how to treat people with different backgrounds.

Bottom line

There are almost endless scenarios that constitute discrimination in the workplace. The effects of this illegal activity apply not only to the victim but also to the company as their productivity is lowered. Managers should, therefore, ensure to stay vigilant in case such issues develop, and even foster employee education on the same. On the other hand, employees should play their part and treat others as they would like to be treated.


Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press