Understanding Workplace Discrimination

Understanding Workplace Discrimination

Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the US has undoubtedly made great strides in fighting discrimination on all fronts. However, discrimination in the workplace is scarcely a dead issue. Discrimination persists largely due to the number of ways it can be done and the difficulty of proving prejudice. Only by knowing how it happens will we ever eliminate the problem.

Blatant Discrimination

Deliberate discrimination at work is easy to recognize. Known to attorneys as “disparate treatment”, this covers hiring, firing, or setting unfair job expectations on applicants or employees in protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, while not applying the same standards to equally qualified “ordinary” workers. Unless an employer actually acknowledges willful discrimination, all evidence will be circumstantial, such as a pattern of negative behavior toward people in victimized groups, or preferential treatment toward others not in such groups. Alternatively, employers’ reasons for their behavior may be so flimsy as to indicate some underlying prejudice.

Subtle Discrimination

Some employment discrimination is, or seems to be, involuntary, to the point where nobody sees it for what it is. Commonly, this entails conditions that appear fair in theory but, in practice, end up being biased against certain groups. This concept, called “disparate impact”, is easier to prove in terms of employment law Orlando.

Consider a job application that lists having a driver’s license as a requirement. This is perfectly reasonable if the job involves visiting different sites, making deliveries or anything else where the use of a vehicle is necessary. For an office job, however, even though most applicants will have a license, this requirement automatically and systematically excludes anyone with a disability preventing them from driving, but not from performing any essential job duties. This is a classic case of disparate impact, as the employer has no valid business reason for the requirement.

These are just some of the ways in which job discrimination may occur. Without understanding how discrimination works, this bad behavior will never stop. Knowledge is power, and power can promote change.

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