How to Deal with Discrimination in the Workplace

            The United States of America has recently elected a new president, Barack Obama. Does it mean that discrimination against other races has been eliminated in the US? Maybe we could safely say that it has been lessened as against fifty years ago but this still happens.
            In the case provided to us, Julie works in the human resources department and found out that the owner of that family owned business rejected her friend Bandu on the ground that he is not white. Julie is now caught in the middle and she doesn’t know what to do.
            The stakeholders are Julie, Bandu and the owner. Julie is currently employed with the company but felt that devastated after what she found out. Bandu is also a stakeholder as the owner’s decision to hire or not to hire him will greatly affect his economic status especially if this was set today when jobs are scarce and there are many companies shutting off. The owner is also a stakeholder even if it seems he has nothing to lose. He is used to a practice that must have been passed on for several generations and the formula worked. He thinks changing this policy will probably disrupt how the company operates.
In the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. According to this law it is illegal to discriminate in any aspect of employment, including hiring and firing; job advertisements; compensation, assignment, or classification of employees; transfer, promotion, layoff, or recall; recruitment; testing; use company of facilities; training and apprenticeships; fringe benefits; pay, retirement plans, and disability leave; or other terms and conditions of employment. Discriminatory practices under these laws also include harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age; retaliation against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in an investigation, or opposing discriminatory practices; employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain sex, race, age, religion, or ethnic group, or individuals with disabilities; and denying employment opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion, national origin, or an individual with a disability. Title VII also prohibits discrimination because of participation in schools or places of worship associated with a particular racial, ethnic, or religious group.[1] Each state also has its own laws which uphold this federal law. This was violated by the owner where Julie works. The owner did not hire Bandu nor even look at his skills and merits and only based it on his skin color.
The information was said in confidence to Julie. There are also laws[2] that prohibit an individual or former employee to disclose any information said in confidence especially the company’s trade secrets. Julie is now caught in a dilemma whether she should tell someone about it. According to this law[3], the reasons of business confidentiality include the concept of trade secrecy and other related legal concepts which give (or may give) a business the right to preserve the confidentiality of business information and to limit its use or disclosure by others in order that the business may obtain or retain business advantages it derives from its rights in the information.
Julie has several options. She can do nothing about it and just help her friend find another job. She can resign from her post and find a different job with an employer who does not discriminate. She can report it to the authorities just like Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Or she can inform her employer about the laws that prohibits an employer from discrimination, research on information about cultural diversity in the workplace and show him how these companies remain to be successful, and suggest best new hiring practices.
Although a lot will be at stake and her job might be jeopardized if she will do something about what she has discovered, the best solution to the problem is the last option. Her employer might consider her suggestions and listen.
She has show that what the owner is actually doing is limiting the potential good employees that the owner has to choose from because your skin color does not play any role in being part of the assembly line and what matters most is skill, experience, diligence, etc. She has to advice the owner that they are not hiring the best people to work for them if this practice continues. Julie just has to know what to say and how to say it.
She can suggest practices found in the article “Legal Hiring Practices FAQ”[4] whereby suggestions on how an employer can attract the best potential employees and not violating and laws on discrimination. Suggestions on how announcements should be phrased and terms to be used are also included like using salesperson instead of salesman. Tips are also given on how to conduct interview by having a set of questions however the article advised that follow up questions are also encouraged to pin down an ambiguous or evasive response.
Julie works nonetheless in the human resources department and she is well educated and experienced in this regard. This can be her legacy to the company. She has show that what the owner is actually doing is limiting the potential good employees that the owner has to choose from because your skin color does not play any role in being part of the assembly line and what matters most is skill, experience, diligence, etc. She has to advice the owner that they are not hiring the best people to work for them if this practice continues. Julie just has to know what to say and how to say it.

References:
Goree, K. (2006). Ethics in the Workplace. (2nd ed.) Mason, OH: Thomson South Western.
GPO Access. Business Confidentiality. http://frwebgate4.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/PDFgate.cgi?WAISdocID=13742596197+4+2+0&WAISaction=retrieve
Lee, B. (1998). Affirmative Action. In C. L. Cooper & C. Argynis (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Management. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Nolo.com (2000). Inc. The Daily Source of Entrepreneurs. Legal Hiring Practices FAQ. http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/05/19987.html
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2002) Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination: Questions and Answers.  http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html. Last modified on May 24, 2002.

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[1] The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination: Questions and Answers.  http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html. Last modified on May 24, 2002.
[2] GPO Access. Business Confidentiality. http://frwebgate4.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/PDFgate.cgi?WAISdocID=13742596197+4+2+0&WAISaction=retrieve
[3] GPO Access. Business Confidentiality. http://frwebgate4.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/PDFgate.cgi?WAISdocID=13742596197+4+2+0&WAISaction=retrieve
[4] Inc. The Daily Source of Entrepreneurs. Nolo.com Inc: Legal Hiring Practices FAQ, 2000. http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/05/19987.html

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