Written by: Gjergji Gega
“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.
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