What Is Discrimination?
To make decisions based on prejudice. Discrimination refers to treatment taken toward or against a person of a certain group that is taken in consideration based on class or category. Discriminatory behaviours take many forms, but they all involve some form of exclusion or rejection.
Discrimination in the workplace is when an employee suffers hostile or unfair treatment due to their age, disability, race, religion, national origin, disabled or veteran status, or other legally protected groups. Other people who could get affected by discrimination in the workplace are employees who suffer retaliation for opposing workplace discrimination or for reporting violations to the authorities.
Here are the different types of discrimination and harassment recognized by US (United States) laws:
Age discrimination is discrimination on the grounds of age. Although theoretically the word can refer to the discrimination against any age group, age discrimination usually comes in one of three forms: discrimination against youth (also called adultism), discrimination against those 40 years old or older, and discrimination against elderly people.
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 or disablism. Historically, the disabled have been shunned for their problems. These views are reinforced in modern times in media, books, films, comics, art and language.
Unsympathetic employers can make life very difficult for such employees and can often make their health problems worse.
Equal Pay and Compensation Discrimination Employers may not pay unequal wages to men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment.
National Origin Discrimination means treating someone less favorably because he or she comes from a particular place, because of his or her ethnicity or accent, or because it is believed that he or she has a particular ethnic background. National origin discrimination also means treating someone less favorably at work because of marriage or other association with someone of a particular nationality.
Pregnancy Discrimination occurs when expectant women are fired, not hired, or otherwise discriminated against due to their pregnancy or intention to become pregnant. Common forms of pregnancy discrimination include not being hired due to visible pregnancy or likelihood of becoming pregnant, being fired after informing an employer of one’s pregnancy, being fired after maternity leave, and receiving a pay dock due to pregnancy. With more than 70% of women with children in the work force, pregnancy discrimination is the fastest growing type of discrimination in the U.S., and in 2006 represented approximately 6.5% of all discrimination claims filed. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission mediates claims betweens employees and employers. In 2006, the EEOC handled 4,901 claims with an eventual monetary pay-out by various organizations totaling $10.4 million.
Race-Based Discrimination differentiates between individuals on the basis of real and perceived racial differences. Within the criminal justice system in some Western countries, minorities are convicted and imprisoned disproportionately when compared with whites. In 1998, nearly one out of three black men between the ages of 20-29 were in prison or jail, on probation or parole on any given day in the United States.
Retaliation has occurred when an employee suffers a negative action after he or she has made a report of harassment, file a grievance, assist someone else with a complaint, or participate in discrimination prevention activities. Negative actions can include being fired, demotion, suspension, denial of promotion, poor evaluation, unfavorable job re-assignment—any adverse employment decision or treatment that would be likely to dissuade a "reasonable worker" from making or supporting a charge of discrimination. Retaliation is as illegal as harassment. Also, retaliation is illegal even if the original charge of harassment was not proven.
Sex-Based Discrimination is 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 enumerated 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.
Sexual Harassment is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. It includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and annoyances to actual sexual abuse or sexual assault.
What is Workplace Bullying?
According to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute workplace bullying is "repeated, health-harming mistreatment, verbal abuse, or conduct which is threatening, humiliating, intimidating, or sabotage that interferes with work or some combination of the three." Statistics show that while only one employee in every 10,000 becomes a victim of workplace violence, one in six experiences bullying at work. Bullying is a little more common than sexual harassment but not verbal abuse which occurs more than bullying.Unlike the more physical form of school bullying, workplace bullying often takes place within the established rules and policies of the organization and society. Such actions are not necessarily illegal and may not even be against the firm's regulations; however, the damage to the targeted employee and to workplace morale is obvious. Particularly when perpetrated by a group, workplace bullying is sometimes known as mobbing. It can also be known as "career assassination" in political circles.
In the United States, comprehensive workplace bullying legislation has yet to be passed by the federal government or by any U.S. state government, but since 2003, many state legislatures have considered bills. As of April 2009, 16 U.S. states have proposed legislation; these are:
These workplace bullying bills have typically allowed employees to sue their employers for creating an "abusive work environment," and most have been supported by the notion that laws against workplace bullying are necessary to protect public health.
Although most U.S. states operate under the 19th Century doctrine of at-will employment (which, in theory, allows an employer to fire an employee for any reason or no reason), American workers have gained significant legal leverage through discrimination and harassment laws, workplace safety laws, union-protection laws. etc., such that it would be illegal under federal and the laws of most states to fire employees for a whole host of reasons. These employment laws typically forbid retaliation for good faith complaints or exercising legal rights, such as organizing a union. Discrimination and harassment laws enable employees to sue for creating a "hostile work environment," which can include bullying, but the bullying/hostility usually is tied in some way to a characteristic protected under the discrimination/harassment law, such as race, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc.