Discrimination in the Workplace
“Discrimination among people has always been around. Whether its age, gender, racial or weight, people will be discriminated against for some characteristic they have. Discrimination can be found in education, the general public and also in the workplace. Its is proven that discrimination can lead to health problems and other issues causing depression, self guessing, and a lack of work ethic. Discrimination can be subtle or very blatant and open, either way discrimination is an evil that has forever existed. In this article we go over different case studies of discrimination and how it is conveyed, also the types of discrimination and the negative effects that discrimination can cause.
When researching, Robert Yin’s Case Study Research: Design and Methods, was used to gather information. It explains “(a) how to define the case being studied, (b) how to determine the relevant data to be collected, or (c) what should be done with the data, once collected” (Yin, 2003). There are three different types of conditions that have to be considered when finding a strategy to use for a case study. They include: “the type of research question posed,… the extent of control an investigator has over actual behavioral events, and…the degree of focus on contemporary as opposed to historical events” (Yin, 2003). The five strategies include a survey, history, an analysis based on the computer of records that have been archived, if an experiment should be performed, or the reason one should do a case study on the topic (Yin, 2003). Throughout the writing process of this study, Yin’s advice was used to explore and collect data and then write our analysis.
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For as long as humans have been on earth, there has always been some sort of discrimination associated with them. Discrimination does not have to fall along the lines of harassment, it can really be about anything. An individual can be discriminated against for anything, outward appearances such as weight, facial hair, tattoos, and style. With discrimination comes other factors and outcomes like sexual harassment, rape, and other negative things. Focused on in this paper is workplace discrimination and harassment. Several companies were analyzed to observe the discrimination and harassment that occurs in their workplaces.
Discrimination based on gender is one of the largest issues in the US workplace. Gender discrimination comes in different forms. The discrimination could be pay based, harassment/assault, psychological, or based off the sole belief one gender is superior. Discrimination often goes unnoticed in the workplace, but sometimes it is blatant and no one stands up for the victims. This literature review will touch on the main issues in the workplace, and the consequences the victims face because of those incidents.
The article Perceptions of weight discrimination: prevalence and comparison to race and gender discrimination in America goes into detail how Americans living with obesity are discriminated against. Obese individuals were 40-50% more likely to discrimination than of those who are of normal weight. The article states “On average, 10.3% of women reported daily or lifetime discrimination due to weight/height, while men were half as likely to report such experiences” (Puhl & Andreyeva, 2008). In other words overweight women are more likely to be discriminated against than overweight men.
There are many problems that women face in the workforce. According to the article Discrimination of Women in the Workplace, some of the issues they face include: “the wage gap, the lack of paid maternity leave harassment, and an overall patriarchal environment” (Strong, 2016). Since women are such a large part of the population, researchers have been working to find a solution to this problem. Research has shown that the situation has been “gradually improving.” The problem with situations like gender discrimination is that there are “not specific laws to all the different intersections that can occur.” There are some organizations that help protect women like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Strong, 2016). Organizations like this just help enforce the policies to prevent issues. The fight for “eradicating gender inequity in the workforce is of significant importance today” (Larson, Mckay, & Sipe, 2016). Many students in colleges and universities do not think they will ever encounter “gender discrimination as a threat or of major significance to themselves or others.” Students believe that since the subject of wage gaps and inequality has been talked about so long over and over again that is is not relevant anymore. They think that they will never encounter it because it is a topic that has somewhat been worn out on the news and on the internet. Ending the gender gap starts by educating the students of America, both high school students and college students. Universities and high schools have the opportunity and ability to educate their students on subject matters revolving around gender discrimination and the pay gap (Larson, Mckay, & Sipe, 2016).
Workplace mistreatment can occur in every workplace, no matter what kind. Blame is sometimes hard to pinpoint, some people will take the side of the predator and some will take the side of the victim. According to the journal article “Beyond Blaming the Victim: Toward a More Progressive Understanding of Workplace Mistreatment,” there are some instances that “victims invite abuse through their personalities, styles of speech or dress, actions, and even their inactions”(Cortina et al, 2018). This proves that some victims “are partly at fault for the wrongdoing of others”(Cortina et al, 2018). This kind of situation is not very common but also not really rare when reviewing workplace mistreatment cases. Discrimination does not only happen in the workplace, but it also happens on the basketball court. Women’s basketball players are some of the most underpaid players in sports compared to their male counterparts. Tiffany Greer talks in depth about this subject in her article An Analysis of Exploitation in Women’s College Basketball. In this article, Greer writes, “despite the recent addition of a cost of living stipend, various researchers have found that athletes, particularly those in the ‘revenue’ sports of football and men’s and women’s basketball, are not compensated commensurate with their marginal revenue products.” Throughout this article, she goes on to prove that many women’s sports are severely underpaid and treated unfairly compared to male-dominated sports. While women’s sports are often viewed less, the pay gap still does not cover that disparity (Greer, 2018).
Sexual assault is not often common in the typical American workplace; however, the US military is also not the typical American workplace. A 2016 study found, about 30% of women in the US military had experienced sexual harassment or had been discriminated against based on their gender within the past year. 21.4% of women said they had experienced a sexually hostile work environment in the past year. The study also found, 77% of women in the military would say gender discrimination is “very common.” Women are 14 times more likely to experience sexual assault if they had experienced sexual harassment within the same year. The US military and DoD have not taken the measures necessary to prevent these kinds of assaults. 52% of women reported retaliation for coming forward and reporting an assault. The US military must actively strive to protect service members from this harm (Morral et. al, 2016). The US military is slowly becoming more inclusive to women, but their sexual assault numbers are a large deterrent for some women to join. According to an article written by Western Kentucky University, “workplace sexual violence affects more than 50% of women” (Bourne and Anderson, 2016). No matter what field of work or type of work, over half of the women in the workforce are the victims of harassment. After concluding that over half of the woman workforce is affected, there have to be further studies to break down the type of harassment that women are exposed to. The stats show that “33% [of women] are harassed, 8% are raped, and approximately 40% of workplace deaths are the result of homicide” (Bourne and Anderson, 2016).
The harassment or assault people face in the workplace leads to enormous psychological issues, especially if they are chronic issues. A 2009 nationwide study found 50% of women had experienced at least one sexual harassment behavior in the last year (Rospenda et. al, 2009). This puts the workforce at a higher risk of mental health issues. Harassment puts both sexes at risk of drinking more than the average person. If employers continue to allow their employees to be harassed, then the employees will see a spike in mental health disorders. The American workforce is already experiencing a spike in depression and anxiety because of these unaddressed issues. Women who face chronic harassment at work are more prone to drink alcohol at a higher rate than their peers who were not harassed. The study also found white women were at a higher risk of being chronically harassed than their non-white peers. “Overall, our results suggest that women bear a disproportionate burden of workplace harassment, putting them at greater risk for experiencing problematic drinking behaviors” (Mcginley et. al, 2011). Sexual harassment leads to enormous psychological issues especially if they continue unchecked.
Students are at great risk of being harassed and discriminated due to the fact that there are many people who have power over these students, like teachers, executives, and older students. With students who may have traveled far from home and are not used to being on their own are easy targets to people who want to take advantage of them. In Jennifer M. Wolff article, Sexual Harassment, Psychological Distress, and Problematic Drinking Behavior Among College Students: An Examination of Reciprocal Causal Relations, she talks about many different problems students are facing during their time on campus. One large problem she talks about is the rampant sexual harassment students are facing. She goes on to write “sexual harassment has been related to future negative health outcomes such as psychological distress, including fear, anger, nervousness, and depression, nausea, sleeplessness, reduced academic satisfaction, and alcohol problems.”
With students under large amounts of pressure and stress due to school and tests adding more fear and stress can drive some students to not only have problems in the present but their future as well (Wolff, Rospenda & Colaneri, 2017). Sexual harassment in the workplace doesn’t just have a physical effect but it also has a mental effect on people as well. Darius K-S Chan has examined these negative effects for years and has written an article called, Examining The Job-Related, Psychological, and Physical Outcomes of Workplace Sexual Harassment: A Meta-Analytic Review on his findings. In this article, he writes, “individuals who experience sexual harassment have been found to derive lower satisfaction from their work and be less committed to the organizations.” This means if a person is being harassed at work they will not only find any joy in the job then he/she is doing but their performance at work will have a negative effect as well (Chan, 2008). The effects of sexual harassment in the workplace are costing companies more when they avoid acknowledging it than if they do. Studies found by Kathleen Neville in her book, Internal Affairs: The abuse of Power, Sexual Harassment, and Hypocrisy in the Workplace, show that companies are more successful financially when they are committed to ethical practices like protecting their employees from sexual misconduct in any way they can. When companies don’t bother to handle a complaint from an employee, Neville explains that “they allow their employees to become emotionally or even actively involved in the dispute” (Neville, 2015). This leads to focus taken away from their work and that affects the business financially.
Not only does sexual harassment have negative effects on people in the workplace, but bullying does too. In fact, sexual harassment can be considered a type of bullying. Stale Einarsen in his book, Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice, defines bullying in the workplace as “repeated and enduring aggressive behaviours that are intended to be hostile and/or perceived as hostile by the recipient” (Einarsen, 2010). In other words, it is not normally about one-time events, but rather, about repeated or frequent behaviours directed towards one or more employees. Workplace bullying affects victims with absenteeism, lack of productivity, and the possibility of a turnover. It affects observers and witnesses as well who have reported higher levels of stress and have had intentions to leave because of the witnessing of bullying.
Discrimination can also come on the basis of sexuality. Tilcsiks’ journal article, Pride and Prejudice: Employment Discrimination against Openly Gay Men in the United States, explains discrimination against gay men in the workforce. Andras explained the case study was done through fictitious resumes sent to employers and found the results to be gay men a discriminated against in some states while in others they are not largely discriminated against. “In some but not all states, there was significant discrimination against the fictitious applicants who appeared to be gay.” He also states that the other finding was that heterosexual men were more likely to discriminate against homosexual males when considering the application (Tilcsik, 2011). Today’s workplace environment is becoming more diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, and religion as well as in sexual orientation. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people face many challenges when it comes to employment. These challenges “range from being forced to remain closeted to actual job dismissal” (Ozeren, 2014), which is explained by Emir Ozeren in his journal article “Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace: A Systematic Review of Literature.” The ratio of LGBT employees in the U.S. is between 3% and 12&, but many of them tend to remain “in the closet.” They seem to have more stress when they open up about their sexual orientation than if they stay closeted because of the harassment they receive from their peers in the workplace.
Other than gender discrimination, there is also racial discrimination in the workplace, but it also starts earlier than the workplace. This journal article, Gifted Education and Culturally Different Students: Examining Prejudice and Discrimination via Microaggressions, examines how culturally different students such as black and hispanic students result from microdicrimination. Ford states in her article, “Black and Hispanic students subjected to microaggressions may experience or respond with anger, hurt, self-guessing, and other negative feelings and thoughts.” Ford shows the results of these microaggressions lead to under representations of culturally different students in gifted education compared to white students. She also goes onto explain, these microaggressions against black and hispanic students are hard to prove due to the subtle nature of these aggressions. The solution to these microaggressions, should be teachers should require systematic and culturally diverse coursework (Ford et al, 2013).
More times than not, the discrimination in the workplace goes unseen and unspoken. In the journal article, Subtle Yet Significant: The Existence and Impact of Everyday Racial Discrimination in the Workplace, Deitch talks about how racial discrimination happens every day in millions of workplaces and most of it goes unseen. This unseen discrimination puts stress and “impaired wellbeing” on the victims. In her article she goes on to say, “the fact that everyday discriminatory incidents in the workplace are ‘minor’ does not imply that the outcome of facing such discrimination is negligible…being the target of everyday mistreatment appears to negatively impact several facets of well-being.” This shows that discrimination, even though it might seem small, has a big impact on that person’s everyday well being (Deitch et. al, 2003). Often times victims feel they have no safe place to report the abuse, and because of this their mental health only continues to diminish. In David Williams and Selina Mohammed journal article Discrimination and racial disparities in health: evidence and needed research they convey how discrimination in health exist. Williams and Mohammed state “Other data indicate that almost 100,000 black persons die prematurely each year who would not die if there were no racial disparities in health (Levine et al., 2001).” Not only are black people more susceptible to dying prematurely but also are less likely to have as long of a life expectancy as white people by 7 years. Williams and Mohammed conclude that everyday discrimination among black people can lower their life expectancy. (Williams & Mohammed, 2009).
The solution to these issues of racial disparity is diversity. “…equal treatment and equal access predict[s] identity freedom, which, in turn, predict[s] psychological empowerment, climate for innovation, and organizational identification.” If people are in a more diverse environment, then people feel they can truly be themselves; moreover, when people feel they can be themselves their productivity at work increases. People contribute more to the company they work at when they feel they are not being judged for who they are. When employees are given equal access and equal treatment conflict lies at a minimum, so when employees are treated as human beings rather than just someone to make the company money they perform better overall (Chrobot-Mason Aramovich, 2013). Sean R. Valentine in his article, The Spiraling and Spillover of Misconduct: Perceived Workplace Bullying, Subclinical Psychopathy, and Businesspersons’ Recognition of an Ethical Issue, analyzes the psychopathy of accused perpetrators of workplace bullying. “Successful psychopaths can exhibit poor ethical decision making, and when they preside in leadership and other positions of power, may negatively influence others” (Valentine, 2017). This shows the effects of perpetrators of workplace bullying in leadership positions among its environment as a whole.
United States Military
There have been many cases reported of sexual discrimination and harassment in different workplace environments; one case that can support the idea of sexual harassment is the experiences of a former Army Captain named Jennifer Machner. During her time in the Army, she was sexually assaulted three different times by lower-ranking service members within a 3 year period. The first time was in Poland in 2001 when she was assaulted by a serviceman while she was a platoon leader. Then in May 2002, she was sexually assaulted by a military chaplain who was counseling her on her marriage issues. The final time was in Kuwait in 2003 when she was raped by a master sergeant in the Army. When she reported the rape case, she was terrified because the authorities were debating on whether it should be considered rape. The study also shows that she left the military in early 2004. Sheila Jeffreys analyzes this case in her journal article, “Double Jeopardy: Women, the US Military and the War in Iraq,” and explains that in early 2004, Machner “was discharged from the military against her wishes, on a partial pension because of post-traumatic stress disorder” (Jeffreys, 2007). This shows the seriousness of the effect that these assaults had on her and how the military saw that she could no longer fulfill her duties as a Captain in the Army due to it. This case also suggests that not even a woman’s military rank can protect her from these types of assaults.
University of Texas
The University Of Texas (UT) as well as many other universities have many cases of discrimination against them. One of these examples is a law student at UT y the name Allison Bowers goes into detail about the discrimination she faced at the school and how other woman at the school are also discriminated against. Bowers studied on how the discrimination at the campus effects female students particularly in UT law school while providing examples of the discrimination she faced. She recalls the first semester of law school in a contracts class when they were discussing a case involving equal rights of a mother and father. Bowers raised her hand and gave her point that a mother is more involved in the birthing process, she states that the whole class gasped in shock and stared back at her after stating this. She recalled that several students raised their hands to make clear that her point undermined the law. Bowers then states that after this event, “ I never volunteered during first year again” (Bowers, 2000). She then goes on to talk about the disparity of men and women in a selective group known as Texas Law Review, “Although I was pleased I was among the new members, I was distressed that there were only twelve women out of the fifty new members” (Bowers, 2000). She notes that for this law review, she must write an essay. She states she knew she wanted to write about women in law school but felt that her essay would not get taken seriously due to the content. Bowers then consults with board members asking if this is a good topic or if it would be discriminated against due to the subject matter, “A formal male board member, however, said that I was right-there would probably be some resistance to my note based solely on the topic I chose. He knew this because it had happened before” (Bowser 2000). Bowers, like many other women in law school, have been discriminated against and felt that they are being silenced compared to their male peers.
The sexual discrimination cases found within both the United States Military and the University of Texas show how the effects of discrimination can lead to women doubting their abilities in their chosen profession while having negative effects on mental health. Both women in the case analysis were discriminated against in their working environment in different ways, but they were mentally negatively affected due to these discriminations. Both Bowers and Jennifer felt that they were silenced and even though they were qualified to be where they were at in their positions, they felt as if they were not as qualified as the men in their position due to discrimination. Jennifer, even as a highly-ranked soldier, was not exempt from discrimination from men of lower ranks as they saw themselves as more superior by being male. This trend is also found in Bowers’ case as she provides an example of how her topic of choice is regarding women who would not be taken as serious as what her other male constituents would write. While Jennifer was terrified that when she was raped they were debating on whether it was rape or not, she suffered from PTSD and in result had to resign from the army within a year of the accident. Both women were deprived of their full potential and felt as if they could not rely on anyone to help them get through the stress due to the discrimination they received on a daily basis.
In conclusion, almost all companies and organizations are subject to discrimination. Whether small or large, it can happen and it does happen. The key to preventing discrimination and harassment is education. If the community educates the environment around them on harassment and discrimination, then there will be a reduction. Other ways to try to put an end to these issues are implementing laws and making the consequences of breaking them harsher. If someone is accused of harassment or discrimination it should not be pushed aside and handled later. It should be handled immediately and if found guilty, that individual should be terminated. Overall, discrimination in the workplace is difficult to end completely but it is possible with the right measures.”