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Discrimination in the Workplace

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Introduction
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and various state anti-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination in employment based on sex, race, national origin, and religion. James and Minors (1996) conclude that although most organizations believe in equal opportunity policies, they do not practice inclusion. Most of these organizations struggle with issues of gender, race, sexual orientation, and disability of their employees. Many of these organizations develop institutional racism which closes the door for employment for many people of color.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2009 received 93,277 charges of discrimination. The workplace in the 21st century has transformed. The transformation is evident by the changing ethnic, racial, age, and gender of today’s workforce. With today’s diverse workforce there emerges three major forms of discrimination in the workplace: racial, gender, and age.
The paper takes a closer look at discrimination in the workplace as it relates to race, gender, and age. The major premise of the paper is this:
Does racial discrimination persists now more than ever?
Has gender discrimination against working women declined?
Has age discrimination in the workplace increased?

I. Does racial discrimination persists now more than ever?
According to Kasey Jones (2010), racial discrimination is the improper and unfair treatment of a worker due to his or her race, color or religion. Workplace decisions that are based on stereotypes of race, including those related to work ethic, performance, or ability, is illegal and unethical. Harassment and singling out groups due to race, such as name calling, slang words or other degrading actions are also considered discrimination.
Organizational researchers have been increasingly interested in issues of discrimination on the job as the diversity of the American workforce increases. They describe what is considered a more traditional focus on discrimination. Organizational researchers conclude the more traditional focus of discrimination is the denial of housing or employment rather than everyday discrimination such as race, sex, and gender. (Deitch, Barsky, Butz, Chan, Brief, Bradley, 2003)
Deitch et al (2003) state “these incidents are certainly negative events in the lives of those who experience them; however, the discrimination faced by stigmatized group members, such as racial minorities, is far more pervasive than the study of major discriminatory events would lead one to believe.”
Racism is not disappearing as research has shown it is being replaced by noticeably less forms such as ‘Modern racism’ (open) or ‘Aversive racism’ (subtle).
Individuals with these views tend to overlook racism and focus more on nonracial based rationale which tends to keep them in denial of being prejudiced. (Deitch et al 2003).
Racial discrimination is a part of American history regrettably. Most employers were forbidden from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national original after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Coleman, 2004). Yet in 2011, there are still racial differences in wages, hiring, occupation, and employment. Does racial discrimination exist now more than ever? Yes racial discrimination does persist now more than ever.

II. Has gender discrimination against working women declined?
Gender discrimination, also known as sexual discrimination, is the practice of letting a person’s sex unfairly become a factor when deciding who receives a job, promotion, or other employment benefit. It most often affects women who feel they have been unfairly discriminated against in favor of a man (Answers.com).
Although recent years have seen a reduction of the gap between compensation paid to men and that paid to women, female workers still receive significantly less than men. In 2000 the average income of women was 68 percent that of men. By 2008 it had risen to 70 percent. (2011, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the U.S.) At this rate, another fifty years will pass before women will achieve equivalency in pay. Consider this. Although women made up 46.5 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2000, women held only 11.7 percent of the board of director positions of Fortune 500 companies, and only 12.5 percent of the corporate officers of those companies were female. Given the average rate of increase in appointments of women to corporate offices, it has been projected that in 2020, when more women than men will be employed in the workforce, men will still hold nearly 75 percent of such positions in Fortune 500 companies. Opponents of federal and state anti-discrimination laws battle to win over the public those social and cultural factors greatly donate to the reality of a second-class standing for working women. But even if social and cultural behaviors are contributing elements, discrimination against women remains the major obstacles to their full equality in the workplace. (Gregory, 2003, p.5).
Many Americans think that sex discrimination no longer is a significant problem for working women. Some may have this simple view because there is increased newspaper and other media accounts of women who have received high-level appointments in academia and in other professions and who are advancing to upper level corporate positions.
In 1999 a woman was appointed to serve as the president and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard, the world’s second largest computer company. This was a great achievement; however, it does not negate the fact that women are still not “shattering the glass ceiling.”
The elevation of a woman to a CEO position clearly is not an everyday occurrence. Hewlett-Packard was only the third of the Fortune 500 companies to turn to a woman for leadership at the highest level. The appointment of a woman to a leadership position in a company as large as Hewlett-Packard and in an industry historically dominated by men as a significant step toward workplace gender equality. However, this appointment hardly means that women no longer confront barriers in achieving equal workplace status with men. Much progress have been made in the past thirty-five years, nevertheless much progress exist with sex discrimination-blatant, subtle, and covert-which continues to plague working women. Nearly all still encounter obstacles to job advancement, whether the obstacles are glass or cement ceilings or ordinary brick walls (Gregory, 2003, p. 5).
Has gender discrimination against working women declined? Gender discrimination against women has not declined it has steadily increased.

III. Has age discrimination in the workplace increased?
Evidence exist that older workers experience discrimination because of their age. Mandatory retirement provisions forced some older workers to leave their job before they were ready to retire. Hostile work environments or demotions exist for those workers who remain on the job. These types of occurrences prompted policymakers to enact the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in 1968, which prohibited discrimination in the workplace against workers between the ages of 40 and 65. There were amendments in 1978 which prohibited mandatory retirement before age 70. In 1986 mandatory retirement was outlawed altogether. EEOC received 10,485 complaints of age discrimination in 1990. Under the Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964, 45,532 complaints of sexual or racial discrimination were filed (EEOC, 1994).
The virtue of legislation outlawing mandatory retirement provisions which are critical components of long-term incentive contracts, were questioned by economists. (Lazear, 1979)
In order to elicit effort from workers, employers may initially pay wages below the value of marginal product in exchange for implicit promises of future wages that exceed the value of marginal product for workers who remain with the firm. Mandatory retirement ages then become necessary to induce high-wage workers to leave the firm. Workers find it in their interest to enter into these long-term employment relationships with mandatory retirement, but once they reach the mandatory retirement age they would prefer to continue working at their current wage. On the other hand, the ADEA may have sound rationale if employers engage in discriminatory practices against older workers (aside from mandatory retirement, which may be perceived as discriminatory). Therefore, the ADEA cannot be fairly evaluated without assessing the frequency and impact of age discrimination in the labor market, ideally relying on data prior to the rise of age discrimination lawsuits.
The ADEA enacted by Congress in 1967 was intended to eradicate age discrimination from the American workplace. The law has accomplished much, but age discrimination remains in the workplace. Age closes doors. It severely limits the range of employment options available to the older worker. Congress intended the ADEA to end compulsory retirement and get rid of other age-related acts affecting the employment relationship. The ADEA has failed to fulfill this role, since to this day discrimination against older workers remains a national disgrace. The methods used to discriminate have changed; the results have not. Downsizing and early retirement plans eliminate older works from the workplace with the same dispatch as coerced retirements and massive layoffs formerly accomplished (Gregory, 2001, p.7).
More than eighty million Americans now living were born during the two decades following World War II. The baby-boomer generation, far more numerous than any generation either preceding or following it, will be the largest constituent of a population growing increasingly older over the next 25 to 30 years. In 1983, the number of Americans over 65 exceeded all the teenagers in the country, and is estimated that by 2025, Americans over 65 will outnumber teenagers by a two-to-one margin. Emphasis on better health care, diet, and lifestyle has increased life expectancy from age 49 in 1900 to age 76. Americans now reaching their sixty-fifth birthday can reasonably expect to live into their eighties. (Gregory, 2001, p.9)
Currently in this country, nearly 20 percent of male college graduate over 65 continue to work, while less than 10 percent of workers that age without a high school diploma remain in the workforce. The better educated-those more likely to have professional, technical, and managerial positions-find their work more meaningful and enjoyable and thus have less reason or desire to accept retirement. Members of the boomer generation, one of the best educated in history, are more likely to want to remain longer in the workforce.
The rate of participation of older women in the workplace has already risen, steadily increasing since the mid-1980s. Seventy-four percent of female workers in age group 45 to 55 remained on the job in 2005, and by 2015, it is projected that those remaining in the workplace will increase to 80 percent. As better-educated female boomers move into these age brackets, the participation of older women in the workplace will increase even more. It is likely that members of the age 65 and over group, both male and female, also will wish to extend their work lives, greatly adding to the number of potential age discrimination claimants.
Longer participation in the workforce is clearly conceivable as more Americans reach post normal retirement ages—their late sixties and seventies—still in good health. But the trend has been in the opposite direction because the business world clearly favors early retirement over longer workplace participation. Until now, the growth in the older population has been accompanied by a decline in workforce participation resulting from a general tendency to retire earlier rather than later. (Peterson, 1997) Has age discrimination in the workplace increased? Age discrimination in the workplace continues to spiral upward.

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