The Federal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws were established, during the civil rights movement, to protect employees from discrimination. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employment discrimination because of race, color, religion, gender, and national origin is illegal. The Equal Pay Act protects workers against sex bias and salary discrimination. In addition, there are laws which protect people with disabilities, and employees over 40 years old from discrimination; such as, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Discrimination against people on the basis of their genetic information is also illegal. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 allows employees who are intentionally discriminated against to receive monetary damages (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2009).
In my opinion, the government has made significant efforts since the 1960's to address problems of employment discrimination in the workplace. More women, minorities, and people with disabilities are attaining college and graduate level educations, and jobs previously reserved for Caucasian men. Prior to the 1960's, African-Americans and other minorities experienced segregation (The Library of Congress, 2010). Discrimination against people of different religious backgrounds particularly Jewish, Sikh, and Muslim Americans was also common. Even after the Civil Rights Act, people with Jewish heritage continued to experience discrimination in employment (Fieler, 2011). Prior to the 1960's, women were limited in their education and employment opportunities. Since the Civil Rights Act, employment discrimination against women, minorities, elderly Americans, and people with disabilities has improved. In 2008, America elected the first
African-American president, Barack Obama. Currently, there are a total of 92 women, 43 African-Americans, and 44 Jewish representatives in the 112th United States Congress. In addition, there are 27 Hispanics, one Native American, and seven Asian representatives. This is in comparison to 413 Caucasian representatives, who reported having a Christian religious affiliation (The Nation, 2011). Like most people, I am aware of the progress made in creating a society that is free from discrimination. However, I believe problems of employment discrimination still exist, as evidenced by the number of recent discrimination cases like the Wall-mart sex bias lawsuit. In my research, I hope to determine if employment discrimination is still prevalent in the United States. To what extent are women, disabled, elderly and minority Americans experiencing discrimination today? My hypothesis is that employment discrimination still occurs in most areas of the United States, especially age discrimination, discrimination against minorities, and women. I believe there is less discrimination against disabled Americans. However, I believe people with mental illness experience stigma and have fewer employment opportunities than people without mental health disorders. In my research, I plan to find current legal cases and reports of discrimination in the United States. I will especially be looking for current cases of employment discrimination against women, minorities, disabled Americas, and workers over age 40. In addition, I will also search for cases of employment discrimination against non-Christian Americans, particularly Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish employees.
The Story of My Search
In conducting my research, I used sources from the internet, public library, and other free online databases. Initially, I conducted a Google search using the terms employment discrimination. In addition, I conducted an online search of United States newspapers including USA Today, and the Washington Post at *****. Other websites where I found information included the Library of Congress, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. There are also free databases like ERIC and Ebsco available to anyone with a public library card. Because I wanted to know about discrimination against minorities, I used key words, like anti-Semitism, discrimination and minorities, and discrimination and African-Americans, to search databases and the internet. I also researched segregation, and discrimination and women. In my online research, I used dates like pre-1960 and post 1960, as I wanted to understand how employment discrimination changed after the civil rights movement. In addition, I searched online databases using key words such as, employment discrimination 2011, to locate current legal cases and reports of employment discrimination.
The Results of My Search
The results of my internet and data base search revealed multiple incidences of discrimination in the past 10 years. A current case which highlights sex bias at a leading American company occurred at Wal-Mart between 2003 and 2011. A female employee filed a complaint against Wal-Mart in 2003 for sex bias and discrimination which is currently being heard by the Supreme Court. According to the employee, Wal-Mart consistently paid male employees higher salaries and promoted them at a higher rate than women. The lawsuit affects over 500,000 or more female Wal-Mart employees and could cost the company substantial amounts of money in legal damages (Biskupic, 2011). In addition, a discrimination case was filed on behalf of a female employee of a Denver luxury hotel. The employee was denied a promotion because of her gender and her status as a single parent. The hotel reportedly did not want to promote the employee because they did not believe she would be able to work 50 to 60 hours a week or relocate. The female employee received over 100,000 dollars in monetary damages because of the case (Hardin, 2010).
Another example of discrimination and harassment occurred in California. Last year a female police officer in Concord successfully sued the city's police department for sex discrimination. She reported that female police officers were discriminated against by supervisors and other male police officers. She also filed a sexual- harassment lawsuit against the police department after her supervisor sent her suggestive text messages. She received monetary settlements in both cases (Lee, 2011).
There are also examples of discrimination against minorities and people of diverse religious backgrounds. Last year in New York, employment discrimination cases against non- Christians occurred at a surprising rate. In 2010, Sikh and Muslim employees filed a lawsuit against the NYC transit authority for being demoted because they refused to pin the company's logo on religious headgear their religion require them to wear (Donohue & Marzulli, 2010.). In Baltimore, two Jewish employees of a cable TV company filed a lawsuit against their employer for discrimination and racial harassment. The employees reported their coworkers and managers repeatedly used anti-Semitic slurs and symbols, like swastikas, to harass them, which created a hostile work environment (Fieler, 2011).
Recently, Tyson Foods was fined for exhibiting a pattern of discrimination in hiring Hispanic vs. Caucasian employees. The court case found Tyson was guilty of refusing to hire Hispanic employees in favor of Caucasian workers, despite their qualifications. As a result of the court case, Tyson was forced to pay monetary damages and make job offers to applicants who were previously denied employment due to their racial background (United States Department of Labor, 2010).
Age discrimination cases also occurred but were not reported as widely as other forms of discrimination. In an age discrimination case, a 49-year-old employee sued Avaya, for wrongful termination. The employee reported Avaya demonstrated a pattern of hiring younger employees and dismissing employees over 40 years old because of their age. As a result of the case, the employee was originally awarded more than 10,000,000 dollars in damages. The settlement was later reduced to over three million dollars (Nirenberg, 2011).
My Growth as a Researcher
As a result of completing the project, I learned about employment discrimination. In addition, I gained experience as a researcher and improved my research skills. Because I have strong computer and internet skills, I was already experienced in conducting online, Google web searches on a variety of topics. My library skills increased including my use of the card catalogue and Dewey decimal system to locate relevant books and periodicals in the library. During the research project, I gained familiarity with new methods of research including the public and private databases, which are available in the public library. By using the internet, I found relevant information in newspapers, the Library of congress, and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission websites. In addition, my proficiency in using online databases like Ebsco and ERIC increased. Learning to use the Boolean search options in Ebsco, Eric, and other library data bases improved the accuracy of my search. I also learned to use the advanced search options which allowed me to find articles with a summary, an attached text, and peer reviewed articles. During my research, I learned that discrimination is still a problem in the United States. Despite laws created to ensure fairness in employment practices and the workplaces.
Lastly, from completing the project I learned how to organize my research, formulate a research question, and a hypothesis. In addition, I gained experience in the proper citation of reference materials according to APA style. The research skills which I have learned will assist me in my future academic studies and my career.
(Biskupic J. 2011330)Biskupic, J. (2011, 3/30) retrieved April 22, 2011, from http://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2011-03-29-supreme-court-wal-mart_N.htm
(Donohue P. Marzulli J. 2010929)Donohue, P., & Marzulli, J. (2010, September…