Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gender Discrimination

Written by: Catherine Pesta


Gender discrimination in the workplace still exists despite efforts by the law. This is a huge obstacle for the professional growth of some individuals in the workplace today. Gender based inequalities in the workplace will continue to haunt workers in the generations to come in the United States and all over the world. Currently women earn about 77 cents per every dollar men earn, on average.

In the mid–nineteenth century, states began to pass married women’s property acts, but until passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, little action was taken to do away with discriminatory laws against women. In the 1920s, some states eliminated prohibitions against women holding public office and serving on juries; school board positions, for example, were among the first local municipalities permitted women to occupy. Until the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, it was legal to pay different rates to women and men performing the same job, and until the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it was legal to refuse to hire a woman for a job based on her sex (Ankler, 1997).

Today women have made a move in almost every field that was earlier known as being male-only. However, gender discrimination still exists and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Sex discrimination has a negative affect on how men view women, and how women view themselves. Gender discrimination also impacts men’s career trajectory, choice of job and career, and discrimination in traditionally female occupations. In turn, directly affecting women’s status and income (Anker, 1997). Women today still find themselves being stopped by the invisible barrier known as the “glass ceiling.” The glass ceiling prevents women from obtaining or moving up in a job because a man with equal credentials is advanced instead of her. A recent study by US Bureau of Labor shows that women working 41 to 44 hours a week earn 84.6% of what their male counterparts do (O’dea, 2006).

In 2011, a $100 million lawsuit was filed against Japanese technology giant, Toshiba. The complaint claims Toshiba regularly failed to pay women equal salaries and bonuses as men who do similar work, segregates women into lower pay-grade positions and favors men for promotion (Bray, 2011). The lawsuit represented about 8,000 female Toshiba employees in the United States and was filed by a human resource manager who faced pushback when returning to work after medical leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act prevents pushback from happening. For example, when women are pregnant, employers are to accommodate as necessary. According to a 2009 survey, just 1.2% of executives at listed Japanese firms are female, compared to 13.5% at American Fortune 500 companies (Bray, 2011). The outcome of this case is still being decided in the U.S. District Court in New York, New York.

Gender discrimination affects men as well. An example of this would be an employer making a male employee who works at a makeup counter wear a business suit even though this male employee is working around makeup which can ruin his personal clothing. While the same company provides special clothing to the female employees that work at the same counter. Unlike women, workplace discrimination with men rarely involves Income but other issues instead. Administrative jobs are often hard for men to obtain because a “secretary” is most often a female in the workplace. A man that wants a less demanding work life to pursue other endeavors may encounter organizational and societal resistance. Men planning for lower paying or caregiving oriented careers may be criticized, receive less mentoring or support from the organization.

The companies where gender discrimination takes place are also negatively affected. Gender discrimination results in lost productivity because victims lose motivation and the morale necessary to perform jobs effectively (O’dea, 2006). Supervisors sometimes pass over individuals for promotion due to preconceived notions about their roles and abilities. For example, a police chief may pass over a female police officer for promotion, due to a belief that men inherently perform better in these positions. Supervisors sometimes pass over qualified males for promotions in industries that employ a high percentage of women compared to men, such as teaching and jobs involving care of children.

Sometimes women who have young children experience pushback when interviewing because of their heavy load of family responsibilities. There is a law prohibiting a prospective employer from asking about family responsibility but usually happens anyway. This could result in less responsibility because managers may think she can’t handle anything more on her plate. In some cases discrimination is subconscious or unintentional. Some managers socialize and mentor employees that have a similar background or similar age as them; this discriminates unintentionally to those who do not fall within the manger’s characteristics.

The topic relates to the discrimination concepts we discussed in class recently. I learned of the Equal Opportunity Employers rules and regulations. The Equal Opportunity Employment Act protects Americans against discrimination based upon that employee's (or applicant's) race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. As a female looking to obtain a successful career in finance, studying gender discrimination has really alerted me to this complex issue. Not only did I learn the current statistics of discriminated employees in the workforce, but also I learned ways to notice and hopefully prevent discrimination based on my sex in the future. If an employee is experiencing discrimination it is best to immediately report the issue to the Human Resources department so they can take the need actions to remedy the problem.


Anker, R. (1997). Theories of occupational segregation by sex: An overview. International Labour Review, 136(3), 315

Bray, C. (2011, February 1). Toshiba's U.S. unit faces $100 million gender-discrimination suit . The Wall Street Journal, p. 10.

 O'Dea, S. (2006). From suffrage to the Senate: America's political women: an encyclopedia of leaders, causes & issues. Millerton, New York: Grey House Pub.

Religious Discrimination

By: Ido Saltarelli

Overview/ History

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex (gender), or national origin. (Pub. L. 88-352) (Title VII). The United States corporate environment is changing everyday to keep pace with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) litigation. Most organizations are familiar with Title VII and discrimination based on gender and race is in headlines daily. One case that is beginning to be more prevalent is religious discrimination. (Borstorff, Cunningham, & Clark 2012) The United States is the most religiously diverse country in the world with over 1500 recognized religions. The EEOC requires employers to
“Reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer's business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.”
Retrieved from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commision.
Title VII also protects against harassment, workplace segregation, and forced participation. (Suillivan 2012). The question corporate America presents is what is a reasonable accommodation? According to Borstorff, Cunningham, & Clark “examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.” What the EEOC says is undue hardship is “if it is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work.” ( Employers face the task of maintaining a sound work environment, complying with laws, and improving their bottom line. 


Religion is not just the belief of a book, profit, a higher power, or idea. For many people religion is their way of life and it defines them in a way that is not apparent at first glance. A person’s belief affects their attitudes, motivation, values, and all aspects of their life. As employees begin to understand their rights more the number of claims filed with the EEOC have doubled in the last 10 years. (Borstorff, Cunningham, & Clark 2012) According to the EEOC website settlements have risen from 182 to 368 between 2001 and 2011. ( The average settlement is over $30,000 not including any litigation fees. ( Suillivan also reminds us that along with monetary damages companies also face a loss to intangible assets as well. Such losses include but are not limited to reduced company morale, loss of focus to company objectives, and damage to a company’s reputation.
            According to a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey only 40% of organizations have a formal policy for employees to request religious accommodations. In my option this is an example that many companies do not realize the

importance of religion among employees. Recruiting top talent is already difficult in today’s job market, not having policies in place for the diverse religious landscape from which talent is drawn diminishes the chances to acquire diverse talent. “HR professionals
reported that employee morale and employee retention were most affected by having a workplace that provided religious accommodation for its employees.” SHRM: Society of Human Resources Management (2008)
In The Future

Moving forward with HR practices is essential for organizations large and small. To keep turnover rates low, improve employee motivation, increase productivity and grow organizations HR professionals need to be at the front of training, recruiting, and managing EEOC policies.  As of now SHRM reports that only half of managers are being trained in religious diversity issues. Companies need to do a better job training and providing information to all employees to help them understand the importance of religious diversity.  SHRM suggests that since only 40% of organizations have a formal policy for employees to request religious accommodations they should institute programs where employees can swap work days such as Christmas vacation days for non-Christian holidays. Also many businesses have instituted personal days as sick days. These can be used for personal religious reasons. 
As organizations push for diversity in the workplace religious diversity grows as well. Since Religion is in many people their personal code of conduct it is a good idea for employers to be respectful of their beliefs and be reasonable in their accommodation of employees religious request. SHRM’s survey reported that “employee morale (62%), retention (38%) and loyalty (37%) are most affected when organizations grant religious accommodation to their employees.”

Borstorff, Patricia C., Brent J. Cunningham, and Louise J. Clark. "The Communication and Practice of Religious Accommodation: Employee Perceptions." The Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship 17.4 (2012): n. pag. Print.

SHRM: Society of Human Resources Management (2008). Religion and Corporate Culture. Alexandria, VA

"EEOC Home Page." EEOC Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2013.

"Religion-Based ChargesFY 1997 - FY 2012." Religion-Based Charges. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2013.

Sullivan, Pat M. Handbook of Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace Emerging Research and Practice. N.p.: Springer Verlag, 2012. Print.

Age Discrimination

Written by: Christine Marah

Age Discrimination
The definition of discrimination is ‘recognizing difference among items or people’ (Jackson & Mathis, p. 74).   More in depth, according to the Employment Act of 1967, organizations are forbidden from discriminating against individuals 40 or older as a result of their age in the hiring and firing process (Jackson & Mathis, p. 94).  Surprisingly, white males in managerial and professional positions that were between the ages of 50 and 59 were the filed age discrimination lawsuits most frequently (Crampton & Hodge, 2007).  A study was conducted in 1996, which indicated that the number of age discrimination lawsuits filed had increased by 26 percent (Crampton & Hodge, 2007).  Unfortunately, when an employee files an age discrimination lawsuit, it is hard to prove that age discrimination has taken place.  However, when an employee files and wins an age discrimination lawsuit, the awards are much higher than any other discrimination case filed.  On average, employees were granted $219,000 who filed an age discrimination complaint, compared to an average of $145,000 for race discrimination, $100,000 for disability, or $106,000 for sex discrimination (Crampton & Hodge, 2007). 
Before The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 was enforced by the Congress, many major organizations required their older employees to retire, often before they were ready to. The retirees were then replaced by new, younger employees (Johnson & Neumark p.3). Although it is now considered illegal for organizations to force older individuals into retirement, many companies continue to pressure their older employees to do so. In fact, over 10,000 complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1990 alone regarding age discrimination (Johnson & Neumark p. 3).
Both young and older workers experience age discrimination in the workforce.  If a young co-worker has a higher status position compared to the older co-worker, the older co-worker tends to think that the younger co-worker does not have the ability to fulfill the job requirements due to lack of experience.  However, age discrimination is more common among older employees. 

After the economic recession, it became more common for employees to work and retire at older ages. Employees between the ages of 50 and 55 begin to worry about job security and how they are and will be perceived in the workforce (Tarkan 2012).  A survey was conducted to determine the perception of ageism that effected the motivation of the employees in their working environment (Tarkan 2012).  Over 4,000 employees between the ages of 18-94 participated in the survey (Tarkan 2012).  The results of the survey indicated that older employees are, the less likely to get promotions (Tarkan 2012). In fact, ageism is so deeply ingrained in society, that many do not even realize when age discrimination occurs because it is considered socially acceptable in our society (Tarkan 2012).  For example, once someone reaches a certain age, he or she qualifies for senior citizen discounts (Tarkan 2012).  The older generation is constantly getting treated differently from the younger generations.  When people age, they usually want to feel as young as possible, but how can they feel that way if they are being treated differently from everyone else? 

Ageism is one thing that everyone has to face.  As employees get older, they gain more experience and will expect higher wages (Crampton & Hodge, 2007).  One aspect of the aging process is that we always hear of people getting sick, injured, having a disease or cancer (Crampton & Hodge, 2007).  Recoveries for older employees tend to take longer than recovery for younger employees if they were to get injured (Crampton & Hodge, 2007).  But, if an organization is going to offer a benefits package, they need to take into consideration a possible increase in cost if their employees are to become ill. Healthcare costs for younger individuals tend to be less than for older individuals. Another aspect that an organization needs to take into consideration of not wanting to have older employees is the turnover rate and the organizations image. When an individual is seeking a long term employment opportunity and growth with an organization they may become apprehensive about accepting a position due to the organization’s high turnover rate.  Also, if an organization is known for their high turnover rates due to possible age discrimination, the current older employees will not perform at their maximum potential.  The older employees may feel unvalued, or uncomfortable at work as a result of an aging process that they are unable to control, which could lead to heightened stress in the workplace.  An increase in someone’s stress level often results in more frequent doctor visits and an increase in prescribed prescriptions.  Increases in employees’ doctor visits and prescribed prescriptions results in an increase the cost of benefits for the organization. While, organizations may not want take the responsibility for the increased cost of healthcare, they are ultimately responsible.

Taking all the protected classes into consideration, ageism is the last discrimination case to get recognized (Tarkan 2012). Analyzing all the protected classes lawsuit cases, the victims of age discrimination are awarded more money than any the other protected class. Experts, who conducted an extensive research on how an organization performs, found that the relationship between age and work experience is essential (Gyeke & Salminen 2009). As employees grow/age with the organization, they tend to be more content with their job (Gyeke & Salminen 2009).  Employees are quickly to discriminate against other employees when they make a mistake at work but, we never take into consideration the other employees’ feelings.  As employees age, they are getting discriminated against at work and even in society which tends to make them feel less valued and unwanted (Tarkan 2012). 

Crampton, M. S, Hodge W. J. (2007). Age Discrimination and Downsizing.
                The Business Review, Cambridge, 7 (1), 341-347.
Gyekye, A. S, Salminen, S. (2009) Age and Workers’ Perceptions of Workplace Safety: A
                Comparative Study. INT’L. J. Aging and Human Development, 68(2), 171-184.

Jackson, H. J., & Mathis, L. R. (2009). Human Resource Management, 13th Edition. South
                Western: Cengage Learning. 

Johnson, W. R., Neumark, D. (1996). NBER Working Paper Series.

Tarkan, L. (2012). Is Ageism Widespread in the Workplace?. Fox News.

Race Discrimination

Written by: Gjergji Gega
Race Discrimination
“The only difference between man and man all the world over is one of degree, and not of kind, even as there is between trees of the same species. Where in is the cause of anger, envy or discrimination?” - Mahatma Gandhi. In this famous quote Gandhi expresses that all human kind should be treated equally despite their skin color and origin. In today’s work environment many employees are challenged with race discrimination. Discrimination continues to rise at the workplace in the United States and affects the performance of those individuals or groups of a certain race. While most agree that this has been an ongoing issue, almost fifty years ago the United States has enforced precautions against discrimination in workplace. This legislation has created many challenges for corporations such as lawsuits and a negative image. The results of actions taken have led to one of the most important Civil Rights Acts in the United States history to protect employees. The Civil Rights Act is also a solution and a guide for companies on how to treat their workers fairly and equally.
During the 1960’s there was an attempt to improve the quality of life in the workplace for African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and other minority groups. Although this had been a political and legislative issue for a long time, 1960 was a period of the protection for the rights of these minority groups. There were many social activists that pushed the civil rights movement into the national agenda but the most famous of them all is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s powerful and peaceful movement inspired millions of individuals which resulted in congress to enact the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was the landmark for equal rights creating the Equal Employment Opportunity Act (Green, 2005). Although the Civil Rights Act did not solve all the problems, it did open the door to providing more job opportunities and made it unlawful and illegal for an employer to deny a job to a person on the bases of race.

The Title VII emerged from the Civil Rights era and it protects employees from discrimination on the basis of skin color, religion, race, sex and national origin. The Equal Employment Opportunity commission was formed as result of this act to address issues of discrimination, and unequal employment opportunities (Green, 2005). This is a guide for small businesses and large corporations on how to provide equally employment opportunities for everyone. Although African Americans and other minority groups had equal job opportunities, qualification requirements for particular jobs were formulated in a way to make it almost impossible for them to get the position.


Race discrimination practices have led to several negative consequences on employer images, resulting in losing skilled workers profits, and having a high employee turnover. Due to these discriminations, law suits have been filed against companies that have cost businesses hundreds of millions of dollars leaving a permanent black mark on their image. While small businesses may not have to pay the large amounts large corporations do, they can still suffer from their business image. For example, Shoney an American family dining restaurant was accused of discriminating against black employees in their job applications. At certain Shoney’s locations, they had a maximum number of African American employees and insisted particular managers to fire the African Americans that were employed (Green, 2005). Shoney’s had to award an average of $105 million to the employees that were victims of the hiring, promotion, and firing policies in 1992. In order for organizations to prevent unlawful acts, is by conducting monthly meetings on how to avoid situations such as race discrimination and to address any employee issues.


Discrimination against race at work can have a negative effect on the employees’ well-being and productivity (Williams, Neighbors, & Jackson, 2003). According to the Racial/Ethnic discrimination and Health findings of the 25 studies examined for psychological distress, 20 studies reported a positive association between discrimination and distress (Williams, Neighbors, & Jackson, 2003).  If employees know that the organization or business that they work for is discriminating against African Americans or other minority groups, they may feel that the practices of their company do not represent them well to the public. Employees may not want to associate themselves with a company that practices race discrimination. This may lead to a great loss of skilled workers and low recruitment of talent workers. In the end, it would lead to high employment turnover and loss of the most competent workforce. Occasionally firing workers for poor performance may be necessary for the success of the company. There are actions that an individual can take to protect themselves from discrimination:
·         Write down what happened and gather names and telephone numbers of witnesses because they might back up your story.
·         Seek lodging a formal complaint. For example, if you face discrimination in a company, bring it to the attention to the top management.
·         Contact a civil rights group, because it can help you deal with racial discrimination.
(Shih & Kleiner, 1998)

The Establishment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) has given the minority groups a voice to fight for their rights for equal employment opportunities and advancements. By trying to eliminate discrimination against race at the workplace, it has enabled companies to create a diverse work environment. The ultimate benefits of creating a diverse work environment and eliminating discrimination in the workforce are creativity and high productivity.


Jackson, H. J., & Mathis, L. R. (2009). Human Resource Management, 13th Edition. South
-          Western: Cengage Learning.

David R. Williams, PhD, MPH, Harold W. Neighbors, PhD, and James S. Jackson, PhD (2003). Racial/Ethnic Discrimination and Health: Findings from a Community Studies
-          February 2003, Vol. 93, No.2, American Journal of Public Health.

Tristin K. Green (2005). Work Culture & Discrimination.
-          California Law Review, Vol.93, No.3, May 2005

Shih-Hsueh, Chen; Kleiner, Brian H (1998). Developments concerning Race Discrimination in the Workplace.
-          Retrieved from