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The discrimination in employment
Discrimination in employment has been an ongoing issue in the United States for over 100 years. There are many forms of employment discrimination and many laws that try to cover all forms. In this paper, you will read about the different laws against discrimination, the different forms of discrimination each law covers, and cases that have been filed based on employment discrimination. Discrimination has taken on many forms over the last 100 years and other forms of discrimination have come about with the changing times. Over the years, laws have changed and amendments have been added to help with other forms of discrimination that may arise.
Discrimination in employment is a very serious issue in the United States. It started many years ago and continues today. The United States government has put laws in place to help alleviate employment discrimination. They have also put governing monitors in place to monitor employers.
History of Employment Discrimination
Although things seem to be getting better with the existence of an African American President and blacks representing many senior levels of the federal government the United States is still filled with discrimination(Vertreace 2010). Many years ago employment advertisements were placed in different categories, male and female. Female jobs were represented by office and clerical positions. Males were normally placed in better paying and those that required mechanical aptitude. Many employers subtly screened applicants and people seeking promotions to reduce the number of African Americans hired and promoted(Vertreace 2010). President John F. Kennedy, in 1963, presented the bill that became the Civil Rights Act of 1964(Vertreace 2010).
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 followed many years of inequality in the United States(Bethel College, 2005). In the United States constitution, there was no mention of women until the 1920s, when they were guaranteed the right to vote and slaves were not counted equals(Bethel College, 2005). In 1964, the government passed the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 that was amended by the Equal Opportunity Act of 1972 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to employers and labor unions with 15 or more employers, employment agencies, state and local governments, public and private educational institutions, and Federal government. This law was passed to eliminate employment discrimination based on color, religion, sex, or national origin(Bethel College, 2005). The only instance employers can discriminate is if religion, sex, or national origin are bona fide occupational qualifications(BFQQs) reasonably necessary to normal business operations, for example, refusing to hire a Catholic Priest for a Baptist church. The other case an employer may, technically, discriminate is if the discrimination results unintentionally from a seniority or merit system. Employers cannot discharge, refuse to hire, pay different compensation, or alter the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on discrimination(Bethel College, 2005).
The main, original purpose of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the integration of African Americans(Bethel College, 2005). Intentional race discrimination is illegal when involved in recruiting, hiring, and the promotion of employees. A person of race must prove that they were discriminated against and that the discrimination had no relation to job qualification(Bethel College, 2005). An employer is also unable to discriminate in employment conditions and benefits. There are several instances where the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission upheld decisions on race discrimination. Some of the cases involved employers permitting racial insults, keeping all-white or all-black crews, providing better housing for whites than blacks, and granting higher bonuses to whites than blacks(Bethel College, 2005). A lawsuit was won by a white senior air traffic official because the Federal Aviation Administration demoted him and replaced him with an African American after complaints that blacks were under represented in senior management(Bethel College, 2005).
National Origin Discrimination
Laws against the discrimination against national origin help protect all ethnic groups(Bethel College, 2005). Some lawsuits are filed when it comes to national origin discrimination. These lawsuits usually come from an employer banning a person to speak in a native language during business hours(Bethel College, 2005).
Laws regarding the discrimination of religion states that employer cannot discriminate against religion and must make reasonable accommodations to the religious needs of their employees(Bethel College, 2005). There are many things that different people believe based on their religion. Employers should be aware of employee’s religious beliefs(Bethel College, 2005). After 9/11, many Muslims have been discriminated against. A settlement was made when four Muslim machine operators were discriminated against. The operators were given the worst jobs, ridiculed during prayer, and called derogatory names(Bethel College, 2005).
There have been many cases of discrimination based on sex. Laws protect women against discrimination in employment(Bethel College, 2005). Employers have tried to set prohibitions against women lifting heavy objects, working during the night, and only requiring rest for women. It is illegal if employers to classify jobs as male or female, unless sex is a bona fide job qualification(Bethel College, 2005).
Another form of sex discrimination is sexual harassment in the workplace(Bethel College, 2005). This usually involves a promise of benefits or threatening job loss in exchange for sexual favors. This is called “quid pro quo" or this for that. Supervisors are the people who do this to both male and female employees(Bethel College, 2005).
The hostile work environment is also another form of sex discrimination in employment(Bethel College, 2005). A hostile work environment is when coworkers make offensive sexual comments, engage in touching, show nude pictures, or draw sexual things or figures. Sexual harassment has been ruled as not just an injury, but as a hostile and abusive situation. Normally, employers are not liable when employees create a hostile work environment. The only instance an employer is held liable for a hostile work environment is when it is fully aware of the issue and does not do anything to correct it(Bethel College, 2005).
Equal Pay Act
Female employees have, many times, been paid less than males that held the same position(Bethel College, 2005). Sex discrimination in employment compensation is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The Equal Pay Act(EPA) stops employers from discriminating on the basis of sex in wages for equal work. Jobs are considered equal if they have the same skill and responsibility and are performed under similar working conditions(Bethel College, 2005). Recently, a bill, called the Paycheck Fairness Act, was passed in the House of Representatives that would stop gender based pay discrimination(Simon, 2008). This bill is waiting Senate approval and would make it easier for women to bring lawsuits against employers. The U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics states that women still earn on average only 77% of what men earn(Simon, 2008). This bill will strengthen the Equal Pay Act and will increase penalties against employers found in violation of the bill(Simon, 2008).
An amendment to the Civil Rights Act was made in 1978 that helped protect women who become pregnant and pregnant women(Bethel College, 2005). The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed so that pregnant women or women who become pregnant would not lose their jobs and forced employers’ health or disability plan to cover pregnancy, childbirth, and other conditions associated with pregnancy. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act also forces an employer to provide a male employees wife with insurance under his plan(Bethel College, 2005).
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act(ADEA) was created because the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act did not cover discrimination of age(Bethel College, 2005). This act covers employees ages 40 and over from discrimination and from being forced into early retirement. Many companies try to use the bona fide occupational qualification when they discriminate based on age(Bethel College, 2005). A 54-year old administrative assistant won a case against her employer after they replaced her with a younger employee and told her she was chronologically challenged(Bethel College, 2005).
The Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) was passed in 1990 by Congress to help people with disabilities get work(Bethel College, 2005). Employers are forbidden to require a pre-employment medical exam or asking questions about medical history. The ADA stops employers from discriminating against someone having a disability currently, in the past, or are regarded as having a disability. The ADA classifies disabilities as both physical and mental(Bethel College, 2005). These include physical disorders, disease, disfigurement, amputation, psychological disorders, retardation, mental disabilities, and learning disabilities. Employers cannot discriminate in regards to hiring, advancement, termination, compensation, and training. The ADA forces employers to make reasonable accommodations for the disabled. Reasonable accommodations include making work facilities accessible and usable, restructuring jobs or modifying work schedules, purchasing or modifying equipment, and providing appropriate training materials or assistance modified to fit the needs of the disabled(Bethel College, 2005).
Affirmative action requires federally contracting employers to actively recruit members of minority groups(Bethel College, 2005). Employers have to create written affirmative action plans, set goals, and create timetables for bringing in minority groups(Bethel College, 2005). Federally contracting employers can be terminated if they do not follow quidelines. They can also be ineligible for future federal business. The only problem with affirmative action is the possible lawsuits of reverse discrimination(Bethel College, 2005).
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC) is a United States agency that was created in 1964 for the purpose of eliminating discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in employment. In recent, the EEOC has added age and disability discrimination to its responsibilities. They handle charges of discrimination by investigating, and it the charge is true, they try to reconcile the situation. If not able to reconcile, the EEOC can bring a lawsuit to federal court(“Equal Employment Opportunity," 2009). The EEOC is made up of five members that are appointed by the President, with advise of the Senate(Bethel College, 2005). These members serve five years. While doing an investigation, these members have authority to hold hearings, obtain evidence, and to subpoena and examine witnesses under oath. The EEOC can file civil suits in federal court and be the representation for the person charging a violation of the act. A person must file charges within 180 days of the discrimination(Bethel College, 2005).
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