The problem of employees’ discrimination was traditionally one of the major problems that affected consistently the position of employees and their work. In actuality, the problem of employees’ discrimination persists, in spite of numerous efforts of legislators to prevent discrimination and to provide employees with equal opportunities. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the experience of Wal-Mart, which faces the problem of payment and promotion discrimination of female employees (Trevor, 2005). In actuality, the discrimination of female employees tends to disappear but, nonetheless, the problem of discrimination persists, including such large companies as Wal-Mart. The existing legislation protects employees from violation of their basic human rights and liberties. In such a situation, the legislative protection of employees forces employers to change their discriminatory practices. The anti-discriminatory legislation focuses on the improvement of the workplace environment to minimize the risk of discrimination. However, Wal-Mart still discriminates its employees but, due to the existing anti-discriminatory legislation, female employees, who suffer from discrimination, can and do file lawsuits against the company to gain compensations and to get equal opportunities compared to men.
In actuality, Wal-Mart is one of the largest employers in the US and the world. However, today, female employees suffer from the discrimination in terms of payment and promotion. What is meant here is the fact that female employees have lower wages and suffer from poor career opportunities compared to men.
As the matter of fact, the problem of female discrimination is not new and has persisted for decades. Females were in an inferior position compared to males and, today, the problem of female employees’ discrimination persists because the modern society still suffers from glass ceiling. The domination of men in the top management of Wal-Mart is one of the major reasons for the discrimination of female employees because men attempt to protect their position at the top management of the company. In such a situation, Wal-Mart has to maintain its positive organizational performance, in spite of the growing conflicts between employees and discrimination of female employees. In actuality, Wal-Mart treats female employees as being inferior to male employees (Low and Villegas, 1987). As a result, female employees suffer from discrimination and have already filed lawsuits against the company. The lawsuits aim at the elimination of the discrimination of female employees and gaining compensations from the company. However, the main point of the lawsuits is to put the end to discriminatory practices in Wal-Mart and to provide female employees with equal wages and equal career opportunities compared to male employees.
At this point, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that female employees working in Wal-Mart have the legal ground for the lawsuits. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that American legislators have already implemented consistent legislative changes, which focused on the protection of employees from discrimination. In this respect, the Human Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, is one of the most significant legal acts, which laid the foundation for the further protection of employees from discrimination in any form, including discrimination based on gender. Title VII provides key legal regulations to establish equal opportunities for all employees. To put it more precisely, according to Title VII employer practices are quite strictly regulated. To put it more precisely, according to Title VII, it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer –
(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or
(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employment agency to fail or refuse to refer for employment, or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, or to classify or refer for employment any individual on the basis of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin (Human Rights Act, Title VII, 1964).
In such a way, the aforementioned employer practices should not admit the violation of human rights of employees and protects them from discrimination from the part of employers. In this regard, female employees in Wal-Mart can also refer to the Title VII of Human Rights Act of 1964 to protect their legal rights and liberties and to stop discriminatory practices from the part of the employer. To put it more precisely, female employees in Wal-Mart suffer from payment and promotion discrimination because of their gender. According to Title VII of Human Rights Act of 1964 such discrimination is illegal.
At the same time, the regulation of relationships between employers and employees should have effective mechanisms of control. What is meant here is the fact that legal norms preventing discrimination in terms of Title VII of Human Rights Act of 1964 could be ignored, if there was no state agency that could control the execution and observation of the law and, therefore, prevented discriminatory practices from the part of employers. For these purposes, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was created and its creation was also defined by Title VII of Human Rights Act of 1964.
According to Title VII of Human Rights Act of 1964 the Commission has the power (Human Rights Act, Title VII, 1964):
(1) to cooperate with and, with their consent, utilize regional, State, local, and other agencies, both public and private, and individuals;
(2) to pay to witnesses whose depositions are taken or who are summoned before the Commission or any of its agents the same witness and mileage fees as are paid to witnesses in the courts of the United States;
(3) to furnish to persons subject to this subchapter such technical assistance as they may request to further their compliance with this subchapter or an order issued thereunder;
(4) upon the request of (i) any employer, whose employees or some of them, or (ii) any labor organization, whose members or some of them, refuse or threaten to refuse to cooperate in effectuating the provisions of this subchapter, to assist in such effectuation by conciliation or such other remedial action as is provided by this subchapter;
(5) to make such technical studies as are appropriate to effectuate the purposes and policies of this subchapter and to make the results of such studies available to the public;
(6) to intervene in a civil action brought under section 2000e-5 of this title [section 706] by an aggrieved party against a respondent other than a government, governmental agency or political subdivision.
In such a way, it is obvious that the Commission should control the observation of the law and undertake legal actions in case of the violation of the law and discriminatory practices being conducted by employers in relation to employees. In fact, this is the case of the discrimination of female employees by Wal-Mart because lower wages of female employees and their poor career opportunities in Wal-Mart are defined not by their qualification but by their gender and policies conducted by the employer (Trevor, 2005). In practice, this means that the Commission should introduce sanctions against Wal-Mart for the violation of rights and liberties of female employees in the company.
However, the Commission remain inactive and the discrimination of female employees persisted. In such a situation, lawsuits filed by some female employees of Wal-Mart were the rational and reasonable step because, in such a way, female employees of Wal-Mart could protect themselves from discrimination from the part of the employer. They can refer to legal norms defined by the Human Rights Act of 1964 and its Title VII provisions, which ban the discrimination on the ground of gender.
At the same time, female employees working in Wal-Mart can also refer to another legislative act – the Equal Employment Opportunities Act of 1974, which eliminates gender and other differences in terms of employment and working conditions. To put it in simple words, the Equal Employment Opportunities Act of 1974 grants employees with equal opportunities to get employment and to have equal working conditions, regardless of their gender, race, origin, age and other factors that may be subjects to discrimination. In fact, this means that female employees of Wal-Mart are discriminated on the ground of gender, whereas lower wages and poor career opportunities are manifestations of their gender discrimination from the part of the employer. Therefore, female employees of Wal-Mart can and do file lawsuits against the company to get compensations for their discrimination and to gain equal opportunities compared to male employees.
In such a situation, the company carries on its discriminatory practices. However, as the company has faced several lawsuits from the part of female employees, Wal-Mart has started to change its human resource strategy. To put it more precisely, the company has started to introduce part-time jobs instead of full-time ones. In such a way, the company attempted to reduce the personnel employed full-time that would decrease the dissatisfaction of employees with their job. At the same time, this strategy allowed the company to get rid of employees, which did not match interests and policies of the company.
At first glance, this strategy has proved to be quite effective because employees doing part-time jobs do not feel discrimination as much as full-time employees. In addition, employees doing part-time jobs are not interested in career opportunities because they have little career opportunities a priori and, what is more, the job in Wal-Mart is provisional for them and they do not view this job as number one priority for them. As a result, employees doing part-time job are not concerned with their career development that decreases the risk of their dissatisfaction or filing lawsuits because of their discrimination in terms of promotion. As for payment, employees doing part-time jobs receive lower wages compared to full-time employees because they spent less time at work.
However, such policies are not effective in a long-run perspective because the company cannot afford maintaining a large number of part-time jobs instead of full-time ones. In a long-run perspective, the company will lose the ground because well-qualified professionals will change the workplace, if they cannot see prospects for their professional development in Wal-Mart. If they do part-time jobs, they naturally suffer from poor employees’ performance and low career opportunities. In such a way, the company will suffer from the lack of well-qualified professionals.
At the same time, the use of part-time jobs cannot prevent the problem of employees’ discrimination. What is meant here is the fact that female employees will suffer from their discrimination from the part of the employer (Reuter, 2006). Wal-Mart carries on discrimination of female employees. In such a way, Wal-Mart postpones the solution of the problem of female discrimination, instead of resolving it. This means that female employees still have opportunities filing lawsuits against the company. Therefore, the company is likely to suffer from the ongoing deterioration of the situation.
In such a situation, Wal-Mart should focus on the solution of the problem of discriminatory practices. In such a way, the company can avoid possible lawsuits its female employees can file at the moment (Reuter, 2006). What is meant here is the fact that Wal-Mart should establish equal wages for its female and male employees and to provide female and male employees with equal career opportunities. Obviously, the elimination of discrimination is the only way to the resolution of existing problems in Wal-Mart. Therefore, the company should put the end to the discrimination through the elimination of inequality between employees. At the same time, employees should use the full potential of unions to protect their rights and liberties and prevent the risk of further discrimination from the part of the employer.
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