Some say they are discriminated against because of their weight. Others say they are discriminated against because of their hairstyle (not mainstream enough), or their clothing choice (too sexy, not sexy). Some others say they are discriminated against because English is not their first or sometimes not their second language. Is all that really discrimination? Discrimination is not a matter of perspective it’s a matter of law.
Many employees receive misinformation about discrimination because some organizations are afraid to give employees too much information. I worked for too many leaders who did not want their employees to know more than he/she knew. Organizations need to be open and honest about discrimination especially in definition because that will keep a productive work environment and save time, possibly money, on frivolous complaints. Additionally, explain the purpose of Affirmative Action Policy that can help with discrimination. Finally, provide clarity about unfair treatment and remedies for it.
Discrimination is defined in the following laws:
– Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
– 1991 Amendments
– Rehabilitation Act of 1973
– Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
– Americans with Disabilities Act 1990
– The No Fear Act of 2002
The bases for discrimination are:
– National Origin
According to Title VII, “it is unlawful for an employer 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 or employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” The final bill also allowed sex to be a consideration when sex is a bona fide occupational qualification for the job.”
So why is Affirmative Action (AA) still a viable policy? Many leaders consider AA to be a negative policy without truly understanding how it is designed to work. The policy is intended to create a diverse workforce at all levels because of past discrimination practices either intentionally or unintentionally. Unfortunately, over time the Affirmative Action policy was horribly misused by choosing minorities not qualified just to meet “a self-imposed quota” creating something no organization wants to use. However, when used correctly the AA policy is a great way to help avoid discrimination issues while creating a fair and equitable work environment.
Finally, defining discrimination is great but, defining unfair treatment is just as important. When leaders make the distinction between unfair treatment and discrimination corrective steps can be taken without wasting time and money on issues that are not deemed as unlawful. Take one of the examples in the first paragraph, being treated unfairly because English is someone’s second language. The only time an organization can use English only in a work environment is when it is a business necessity which the leaders must prove. When leaders know this their decisions in these situations should be the most appropriate and fair.
Fair and equitable treatment in the workplace is all anyone can ask from their leader.
Leaders understand employees are more productive, committed, and totally engaged when their work environment is is fair and equitable. Let’s get your entire organization moving in the same direction – forward and up! Contact Tresté at 757.748.2590 or [email protected]