What is Discrimination in the Workplace

Workplace discrimination often occurs without the individuals responsible or subjected to it, being aware that it is actually happening. Ensuring that both employers and employees are more aware of the laws is therefore important, because discrimination certainly is both unnecessary and unwanted in the world of today.

Employers should have sufficient motives to avoid discrimination simply because it is unethical. The law offers more incentives, however, since any case where an employee file a discrimination claim against a company can be both unpleasant and costly. Both the direct legal consequences, such as financial penalties, and the indirect consequences, like bad reputation and low morale among employees, are a major problem to most companies.

To avoid discrimination at the workplace, one must first know just what it means. Below I shall therefore outline the legal concept of discrimination to clarify the exact meaning of the term.

What is discrimination at the workplace?
Any act of discrimination at the workplace – including in recruitment or promotion processes – is prohibited by American federal law. Workplace discrimination means something that happens when an employee is treated favorably or unfavorably because of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, a disability or because of some other legally protected characteristics. One can also be discriminated against if the fact that one report violations of laws, leads to similar treatment. 

That certain traits cannot be discriminated against does not mean that people of different skin colors cannot be treated differently. A white or black person can be promoted by a white or black boss without it necessarily being done on racial grounds. Different treatment only constitutes discrimination when employees are treated differently because of one or more of the mentioned characteristics, and not the job performance or personality of the employees, for example. The law therefore only requires that a candidate or employee must be given the same opportunity as every other candidate or employee.
Consequences of discrimination at the workplace
An employer that is found guilty of discrimination will normally be given different forms of punishment. These include:
* Fines
* Undertaking other corrective measures

The employer that has suffered from discrimination will normally have the right to some form of compensation. This can be:
* Restoration of an old job to a former employee
* Back pay to the employee
* Compensation for pain and suffering the employee suffered from as a result of the discrimination

Understanding Workplace Discrimination, Allbusiness.com. Retrieved December 15, 2010
URL : http://www.allbusiness.com/human-resources/workplace-health-safety-employment/1317-1.html

Discrimination, Workplace Fairness. Retrieved December 15, 2010
URL : http://www.workplacefairness.org/sc/discrimination.php