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Discriminatory Practices in the Workplace


An increase in the rate of discrimination at workplaces has led to different commissions being established to ensure that employees are equally treated when it comes to hiring and promotion. Different factors have been found to contribute to discrimination at workplaces. These include sociological factors, psychological factors and encouragement from managers and supervisors. Apart from commissions, organizations have been encouraged to draft policies that will ensure that employees are equally treated. The commissions must investigate all reported cases of discrimination and take the necessary steps on ascertaining that the complainant was discriminated against. Despite companies being given the freedom to determine the kind of employees to hire, they are bound to ensure that they do not discriminate against the potential employees based on their gender, race, disability and pregnancy among others. This paper aims at looking at some of the causes of discrimination, the different ways in which discrimination manifests itself and various avenues that one can use in addressing his or her problem. In addition, the paper will look into a case where Maria was discriminated against due to her accent, tardiness and absenteeism. It will also give some of the avenues that Maria can use in airing her grievances.

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Causes of discrimination

Numerous reasons have been identified to contribute to discrimination that arises at workplaces. Some of the factors that have been identified to cause discriminations are social factors, psychological factors and encouragement. Some of the psychological factors that contribute to discrimination at workplaces include prejudice, racism, gender and ignorance. In most cases, organizational supervisors are found to prejudice their staff. On identifying employees that are committed to the organization’s activities, they at times fear that these employees may be promoted and overtake them. As a result, they treat them with contempt to demoralize them and lower their commitment (Gregory, 2003). In addition, there is need for managers to monitor the different departments within an organization to be able to effectively cut down on operations costs. However, this does not happen in most organizations. Managers are found to use their prejudice in making these decisions hence discriminating some of the departments.

Discrimination at workplaces also occurs as a result of competition. If employees sense that there is high competition in their organization, they may try to identify the weak points of their colleagues and use them to outdo them. For instance, when employees learn that there is a possibility of one being promoted based on his or her performance, they may identify their competitors and use all ways possible to ensure that they are not comfortable at workplaces hence adversely affecting their performance (Gregory, 2003). This is to ensure that they are not acknowledged in the organization hence getting promoted at their expense.

At times, the prevailing working environment within an organization may trigger discriminative acts among the employees. For instance, if employees learn that their bosses have discriminative attitudes towards specific individuals within an organization, they may also start discriminating against these individuals. This is in bid to strengthen their ties with the bosses.

Ways in which discrimination manifests itself in a company

Discrimination at workplaces may occur in different ways. When a manager or supervisor uses sentiments that are demeaning or abusive towards an employee because of his or her gender, race or disability, this can be termed as discrimination. Stereotyping employees at workplaces is not allowed (Green, 2003). This is because it leads to the affected people not feeling comfortable when at the workplace. One of the most common forms of discrimination at workplaces is based on gender. Women are mostly found to fall victims to discrimination at workplaces. There are times when managers or supervisors request sexual favors in return after promoting female employees. If the affected lady fails to comply with the request, she gets discriminated against by the manager or supervisor. The manager looks for all possible means to demote the victim.

There are other instances where people are promoted at workplaces based on their race. Despite a person working with an organization for a long time and having the credentials for promotion he or she may fail to be promoted simply because he or she is not from the same race as the manager promoting the employees. Other forms of discrimination at workplaces are based on health status of the employees with those found to suffer from HIV/AIDS not being promoted or even being dismissed from the organizations.

Statistics on discrimination

According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the rate of the different forms of discrimination at workplaces continues to increase. This is despite the organizations coming up with policies that prohibit all forms of discrimination. According to a survey conducted between 2006 and 2007, the number of discrimination cases was found to increase. Discrimination based on race was found to rise by 12%. This was from 27,238 cases in 2006 to 30,510 cases in 2007. Discrimination against gender increased by 18%, disability 14%, Age 15% and discrimination based on relation increased by 18% (McMahon & Shaw, 2005). As the number of racial groups entering into the workforce in United States increases, speculations are high that the rate of racial discrimination at workplaces is going to intensify.

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Maria’s case

From the given case, there are instances of prejudicial attitudes in deciding on whether to promote Maria or not. The company agrees that she is a good employee and is ever committed to her responsibilities within the company. Nevertheless, the company sites one of the factors that make it hard for her to be promoted as her aggressiveness in dealing with other employees and managers. Lateness is another factor that has been cited to hamper her promotion. These factors are not inherent and one can be able to overcome them by gradually changing his or her ways of doing things and organizing herself. Consequently, the company ought to help Maria in overcoming these challenges rather than fail to promote her.

Employees have the right to take care of their dependents. However, in most cases, employers are found to deny their staff an opportunity to look after their loved ones who are in need of their care and support. This is what is reflected in Maria’s case. The company claims that she at times gets to work late while in others she fails to report at work. However, she has never failed to report at work without genuine reasons. This factor is used to discriminate against her.

Issues to do with one’s accent are inherent and hard to control. Hence, it is unethical to consider them when it comes to promoting people within an organization. Failing to promote Maria because of her accent was discriminative. This is similar to other forms of discrimination such as those based on one’s disability. Despite the company claiming that it did not consider the accent as a way of discriminating against her, it did not treat her fairly as this was a condition that was beyond her control and it did not impair her performance at workplace.

Company’s right

Every company has the mandate to determine the right employees to deal with certain categories of customers. This is to ensure that it has effectively satisfied its customers thus increasing its sales. These employees are chosen based on their qualities. Some of the qualities considered include the ability of the employee to convince the customers. As there are no regulations established to govern how an organization structures its operations as well as allocate duties to its employees, this company acted within its rights in determining the right employees to communicate with customers. However, it is not right that the company dictates on its employees to ensure that they do not have unaccented English. This is because accent is not acquired voluntarily and considering it would amount to discriminating against people with accented English.

Plan to avoid this form of discrimination

By not coming up with measures to ensure that such an incident does not occur again within the company, it would mean that people are contented with the company’s acts. There is need for establishment of a plan that would help in curbing this form of discrimination. To start with, it would be rational to come up with policies within the company that prohibits discrimination with respect to accents, race or gender. This would ensure that all employees within the company have a level ground to compete from. In addition, the company needs to come up with a set of procedures to be followed in identifying employees that deserve to be promoted as well as qualities that these employees need to have (Dipboye & Colella, 2005). By so doing, employees would be able to evaluate the promotion procedure thus ensuring that they have not been discriminated against. Employees would also not suffer from prejudice on seeing that they have not been considered.

Maria’s options for presenting her grievances

Numerous bodies have been bestowed with the responsibility of monitoring and dealing with cases of discrimination at workplaces. One of these bodies is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The body has the responsibility of investigating all cases of discrimination reported to it. On identifying that the complainant was actually discriminated against, the commission takes a step and files a case on behalf of the discriminated employee. With such a commission being in operation today, Maria can seek its assistance in addressing her case. She ought to report her case to the commission so that it takes the initiative of investigating the matter. Through the commission, justice will be done in the organization thus restoring her trust in the company and its management.

In addition, there are committees established within the organizations that are responsible for addressing employee complaints. Maria can file her complaints with this committee to look into the matter and ensure that justice is meted on her. Of the two options, the latter may seem to be unproductive as the committee may not have a significant influence on the company. As a result, most employees opt to file their cases with EEOC rather than using organizational committees in solving their problems.

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Policies that address discrimination at workplaces

At times, organizations may come up with their unique anti-discrimination policies. These policies are supposed to be obeyed by employers when it comes to employment and promotion. The high rate of discrimination cases has led to the establishment of anti-discrimination policies which protect employees from being victimized by their employers. An example of such policies is Non-Discrimination and/ or Equal Employment policies. These policies have been comprehensively developed to cater to the different forms of discrimination (Chiplin & Sloane, 2000). They cater for discriminations that may arise during promotion, hiring as well as the dismissal of employees. All the areas where discrimination is found to arise are required to be declared as protected classes. These are areas such as gender, race, and marital status. Some policies require employers to include “gender identity” as a protected class. This is to ensure that employee is discriminated against based on gender. Today policies that ensure that there are equal employment opportunities for all are mostly used. The fact that these policies are comprehensive and cater to almost all forms of discrimination makes them more efficient in addressing discrimination at workplaces.


There are different forms of discrimination at workplaces based on their causes. These include those associated with gender, marital status, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and race. Despite there being numerous policies and commissions that address cases of discrimination, the problem has been found to intensify with time. The issue of Maria not being promoted because of her accent and tardiness can be seen as discrimination. This is because issues such as tardiness can be corrected. Companies have also been prohibited from discriminating against their employees based on their inherent weaknesses. To ensure that she is treated right, Maria ought to seek the assistance of the EEOC.

Reference List

Chiplin, B. & Sloane, P. J. (2000). Tackling discrimination at workplaces: An analysis of sex discrimination. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press.

Dipboye, R. L. & Colella, A. (2005). Discrimination at work: The psychological and organizational bases. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Green, T. (2003). Discrimination in workplace dynamics: Towards a structural account of disparate treatment theory. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 38, pp. 32-47.

Gregory, R. F. (2003). Women and workplace discrimination: Overcoming barriers to gender equality. United States of America: Rutgers University Press.

McMahon, B. T. & Shaw, L. R. (2005). Workplace discrimination and disability. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 23(3), pp. 137-143.

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