04/26/2011 16:47

Discrimination manifests itself into many forms.  Consequently, this also provides a lot of ways people can be discriminated against.  To combat this, there are laws which specifically apply to a certain type of discrimination.   The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has classified the various types and ways on how you can be discriminated against and what laws could help you protect and defend your rights.  Among the most common are:


Age Discrimination

Age discrimination happens when an applicant or employee for example, is treated unfairly and put into undue disadvantage because of his or her age.  Workplace discrimination based on age can occur if an older person (aged 40 and above) is denied a job opportunity despite being qualified and able to assume the requirements of the job; when an elder worker is being harassed regularly by co-workers or supervisors because of his age; when an elder employee is singled out from regular company benefits such as trainings, promotions, equal pay and fringe allowances; or when an employee is indiscriminately fired from the job with no valid reason other than age. 


Workplace discrimination may lead to harassment, wherein an employee’s supervisor or a co-worker regularly expresses offensive remarks about a person’s age, creating a hostile work environment and a depressing situation for the victim, causing him or her to not to perform the job well.  Harassment is also present when it causes an unfavorable company decision against the employee such as termination or demotion.      


The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects workers aged 40 and higher against discrimination in the workplace. It explicitly states that no worker may be discriminated against in terms of application, employment, opportunities and even membership in organized labor.  It also protects a company’s elder members of the workforce against unfair internal company policies and practices.       


Disability Discrimination

Defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity”, an employee or applicant’s disability may also be a cause of workplace discrimination. Disability discrimination is denying equal opportunity to qualified workers because of their impairments.  It occurs when a worker or an applicant’s disability becomes a factor in job selection, promotion opportunities, equal pay and benefits.  A company is required by law to provide accommodations for disabled workers as long as it does not incur substantial difficulty and/or losses (undue hardship) to the employer.  Examples of this are providing special parking spaces and access to people in wheelchairs or other support mechanisms such as hearing aids, glasses, etc. which help a disabled person perform his or her job.


Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment


Similar to other ways of discrimination in the workplace, sex discrimination is when a person is caused unfair work-related practices because of their gender or sexual orientation.  Examples of this are unequal salaries and benefits between the men and women of the workplace, significant differences in work assignments, unfair opportunities in promotions and trainings, and subjective preferences during the application and hiring process.  The increased number of employed women and people with a specific sexual preference seems to be an overall improvement of their recognition and society, but makes them more prone to discrimination and harassment.  Making unwelcome sexual advances, either physically or verbally and offensive remarks about a certain gender in general may comprise a discrimination offense, especially if committed by a supervisor, a co-worker or a client.


Federal and State laws such as Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and The California Fair Employment and Housing Act protect your rights against workplace discrimination.  If you feel violated and believe that you have just reason for being discriminated against, consult a government agency or a lawyer who can provide expert advice and resolve your ordeal.


Racial and Color Discrimination

Immigrants and foreigners are also prone to subjective treatment because of racial discrimination.  Biased treatment of legal immigrants in considering for a job commonly happens mainly because of personal prejudices by the hiring authority.  Legal immigrants have rights too under the law and discriminating against them is a violation thereof.  Also, this prevents both the applicant and the company to gain possible opportunities; the company might benefit from the knowledge and skill sets an immigrant has, and the applicant can be given a chance to have a better life in a new country and be a productive member of society.  The difference in race, national origin and skin color are considered illegal bases of considering a job applicant and implementing internal policies in the workplace.


It pays to be aware of federal discrimination laws and those of your state.  You can research from vast sources available in the web.  Do not be afraid to raise your case if you feel that you became a victim of discrimination.  Learn to identify instances of discrimination in the workplace to help you and co-workers avoid it.  Sought for professional legal advice and government help to uphold your rights and end your everyday suffering caused by workplace discrimination.