Discrimination in Employment: Race and Disability Equality

2710 words (11 pages) Essay in Employment Law

06/08/19 Employment Law Reference this

Last modified: 06/08/19 Author: Law student

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Introduction

Sidney Smith came across a job posting for a preschool teacher position at ABC Learning Incorporated, also known as ABC Inc. ABC Inc. is a well-known learning center that exclusively serves the homeless population. The learning center is made up of ninety percent African-American students and ten percent Hispanic. Half of the student population has a special need with supports needing to be in place for physical, cognitive, emotional, or behavioral disabilities. Twenty percent of the special need population have a combination of needs.

After reviewing the qualifications Sidney became ecstatic when she discovered that, she indeed, was qualified for the position. The next day she completed the online application and uploaded necessary documents such as resume and transcripts. A week later she received an email inviting her to visit ABC Inc. for an interview. The day of the interview Sidney arrived fifteen minutes early and signed in at the visitor’s window. The receptionist told her to have a seat and she will alert the director, Ms. Johnson to her arrival. Thirty-minutes passed as Sidney watched people travel to their destinations. Sidney seen this specific woman walk past several times, but this last time she heard her mumble how unprofessional it is to be late for an interview. At that moment, Sidney stood up and introduced herself. In a shocked manner, Ms. Johnson extended her hand and introduced herself. She immediately apologized for overlooking her, for she was expecting someone that looked different.

Throughout the interview Sidney became uncomfortable with the Ms. Johnson’s line of questions regarding her race and insinuation of Sidney not being a good fit to work in an urban setting. Despite the unprofessionalism Ms. Johnson displayed, Sidney was hopeful in getting the job because of the impact she was looking forward to making in the lives of the students and families in her class. At the conclusion of the interview, Ms. Johnson stated that a hiring decision should be made by the end of the week. More than a month had past before Sidney heard anything from ABC Inc., but when she did, they extended her a job offer. She accepted the offer and explained to Ms. Johnson how she now has a service dog that travels everywhere she goes. Ms. Johnson arrogantly responded with a comment stating that Sidney did not look like a person in need of a service dog and that pets were not allowed in the building. Sidney located several resources that explained that employers are required to extend reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities in the workplace. She also stated that if ABC Inc. was not willing to attempt to accommodate her, she will file a complaint through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A week later, Sidney received an email stating that her offer had been rescinded due to budgetary cuts.

The actions Ms. Johnson displayed towards Sidney are illegal acts of workplace discrimination related to race, disability, and retaliation. Unfortunately, despite the numerous laws in place to protect individuals against these experiences, discrimination still occurs. Some of the laws are the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.  For relevancy purposes we will discuss Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the amendment of 1991, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the 2008 amendment. We will further discuss the research methodology implemented to gather information, and resources used to acquire information. Then we will take a deeper look at discrimination in the workplace, review law suits pertitent to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Last, we will examine the results of the research and evaluate learning outcomes.

Focus

Discrimination: An Issue of the Past and Present

The focus of this paper will be discrimination in the forms of race, retaliation, and disability as it pertains to hiring and firing within organizations. Hexel et al, of Harvard Business School, states that, “hiring discrimination against Blacks have not declined in over twenty-five years” (2017). Historically, discrimination has been difficult to measure. This was until the Harvard Business School embarked upon a study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that measured trends in discrimination since 1990. Twenty-four field experiments were measured of 54,000 applicants across 25,000 positions. Using resume audits and in-person audits, the researchers submitted fabricated resumes with qualifications equitable across the board. The resumes had ethnically identifiable names to measure the outcome of their theory. Data reflective in call back rates alone, shown a thirty-six percent higher call back rate for White applicants than Black and twenty-four percent higher call back rate than Latino applicants.

Another group suffering from workplace discrimination is disabled workers. Since the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act the gap between disabled and non-disabled workers have increased. Disabled workers are employed at a forty-one percent rate where they use to be employed at a fifty percent rate. In an article by Bhattacharya and Long, they discuss the difficulties disabled citizens have in America (2015). Starting with the story of Jordan Gallacher who obtained a bachelor’s degree in management and entrepreneurship and has not had a job in three years. When employers discover that he is blind, he receives a rejection letter indicating he was not chosen for the position. Additional barriers Jordan and his disabled counterparts face include low wage jobs. Disabled workers make nine thousand dollars less than non-disabled people (Bhattacharya and Long, 2015).

Unfortunately, employment discrimination in the workplace is rising at an alarming rate. In the article, Why Are Employment Discrimination Lawsuits Rising So Rapidly, the statistics show that in 2016, the top three discriminatory lawsuits were due to retaliation (45.9%), race (35.3%), and disability (30.7%) (Lucas, 2018). Discrimination lawsuits are on the rise due to increased awareness. Although, the laws discussed in this paper were created more than three decades ago, with the rise in awareness to prevent discrimination in the workplace through training programs, light is shed on past and/or future discriminatory practices an employee may have experienced. Increased coverage of discrimination has also prompted a rise in lawsuits as victims are realizing something can be done and they are not alone. The word discrimination was mentioned over 1600 times in the New York Times and over 2000 times in the Washington Post in 2017 (Lucas, 2018). Social media also plays a part as people take to social platforms like Facebook or Twitter to detail their experiences of discrimination with employers. The magnitude of people reached on these platforms surpass traditional practices of filing a complaint or reaching out to a human resources representative because a single post can land on the timeline of millions of followers throughout the world.

Literature Review

As we turn our attention to the laws that govern workplace discrimination, we will review the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the 2008 amendment, as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its 1991 amendment. Following, we will discuss lawsuits that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed against Jackson Food Stores and Fort Meyers Hotel of Hospman LLC related to the above-mentioned laws and reflect how these practices impact strategic staffing within an organization.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Civil Rights Act was created to protect and provide injunctive relief to individuals against discrimination in public facilities, public education, and federally assisted programs. Specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 explains that is illegal to discriminate against an individual, in the employment acts of hiring, firing, discriminate in compensation, employment privileges, terms, and conditions, against an employee or potential employee as related to their race, sex, national origin, religion, or color (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2018). To explain even further, “The rationale expressed by Congress for Title VII was to “assure equality of employment opportunities and to eliminate those discriminatory practices and devices which have fostered racially stratified job environments to the disadvantage of minority citizens” (Hagen, 2011). This law is applicable to employers of a staff with fifteen or more employees for each working day of twenty or more calendar week (current and proceeding). In 1991, there was an amendment to the act which allowed trials by jury and punitive and compensatory rewards where discrimination had been proven to occurred.

The American with Disabilities Act

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 bans state and local government agencies, private employers, employment agencies and labor union from discriminating against qualified job applicants due to a disability (Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act, n.d.). This law is valid for employers that have a staff size of fifteen or more and prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment. The law also dictates that questions about an applicant’s disability before a job offer is made is prohibited. Should an employee disclose that they are in need of workplace accommodations, its is the employer’s responsibility to establish a reasonable accommodation unless it causes an undue hardship.

Disability Discrimination and Retaliation

In the case of EEOC v. Jacksons Food Stores, Inc., Nathaniel Prugh, seeking employment with the food store applied for a vacant position. Based on his qualifications and experience in working similar jobs Nathaniel was given the opportunity to interview with Jackson Food Stores. Sowell writes in his article, Feds Says Jackson Discriminated Against Injured Dispatcher, Deaf Applicant, when he notified the store that he was deaf and in need of an interpreter the manager denied Nathaniel’s request for an interpreter and cancelled the interview (2017). In press release dated September 7, 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that Jackson Food Stores agreed to settle the lawsuit in the amount of eighty-eight thousand dollars in lost wages and damages. In addition, Jackson Food Stores must hire Nathaniel, as well as, train staff regarding the hiring and reasonable accommodations of the ADA act. Last, Jackson Food Stores are mandated to distribute a modified version of the ADA policy and post a notice for employees about the consent decree and their rights under the ADA (Jacksons Foods Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit, 2018).

In a second discrimination lawsuit with a retaliation twist, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed charges against Jackson Food Stores on behalf of Penny Wightman. Penny was an employee that suffered a wrist injury requiring that she undergo surgery followed by physical therapy and medication for pain management. When Penny was released by her doctor to return to work, she was able to do so with restrictions. After Penny’s return she was told by management to train a colleague to satisfy her role. A week after training ended, Penny was forced to go on medical leave by management and never returned due to being terminated during her absence. This case is still being litigated, however, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is seeking backpay, interest, and punitive damages (Sowell, 2017).

Racial Discrimination

The Equal Opportunity Commission presented a lawsuit of racial discrimination against Hospman LLC in the termination of their African American employees at the onset of new management of the Fort Meyers Hotel. Hospman terminated several African American employees in August of 2012 prior to directing the housekeeping manager, Trinica Jones, to fire African Americans on her team. The CEO, Jose Carlhavo questioned Trinica’s race because she ‘looked Spanish’. Trinica informed Jose that she was half African American and as a result was told her services will no longer be needed (Brasch, 2015). It is reported that former Hospman’s chief executive officer stated that does not work with those kinds of people, referring to the African America staff members. As a result of this lawsuit, Hospman is required to pay thirty-five thousand dollars to be distributed amongst the discrimination victims, revise policies regarding race discrimination, conduct training to managers and supervisors surrounding Title VII requirements, post a notice about the lawsuit to its employees, and report to the equal employment opportunity commission any complaints regarding race discrimination and company’s employment practices (Hospman Settles EEOC Race Discrimination Lawsuit, 2017).

Results

I’ve learned quite a bit in regard to the laws, discrimination, and staffing while compiling this paper. I find it interesting that discrimination amongst disabled workers have increased since the creation of the American with Disabilities Act. Similarly, how discrimination amongst Blacks has been stagnant over the past twenty-five years. The true revelation throughout this process is the support hiring managers and human resources professionals need surrounding employment law. Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act were established twenty plus years ago, however, discrimination still exists and is rising. As a part of strategic staffing within an organization it is important to collaborate with different teams to train employees on workplace discrimination, train managers on best practices for hiring, work with HR data teams to pull data surrounding applicants, and more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, my choice to conduct research on employment laws and lawsuits was driven by my interest and current line of work. The approach I took to gather information concerning the topic was a combination of gathering quantitative and qualitative information from a variety of sources like the DeVry Library, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website, and other professional based human resources sites. The topic of race, disability, and retaliatory discrimination in workplace brought about large amounts of information of the illegal practice happening throughout the nation. We took a closer look by reviewing the court cases the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed against Jackson Food Services and Hampson LLC of Fort Meyer Hotel. Based on the research, staffing teams can become more strategic in accomplishing organizational goals by supporting hiring managers in providing training surrounding best practices, use data to review applicant information, and remain in the loop of updates to employment law.

References

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