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Equal employment opportunity acts are very important to any business that is keen on going global. The global market place is full of many diverse customers just like there are diverse potential employees with diverse talents. A sustainable business is guided more by ethical workplace dealings than the set laws and regulations. In a bid to make workplaces as free as possible from any kind of discrimination, there are various laws guarding various interest groups facing the risk of discrimination.
Equal Opportunity and the Law
Every time Equal Employment is mentioned, President Lyndon B. Johnson comes to the mind of many people who are keen on equal opportunity acts. .He created the term on his signing of the executive order which prohibited federal contractors from discriminating employees on any basis ranging from race to sexual orientation. Equal employment opportunity is aimed at ensuring that women and minorities are continuously being incorporated in the work forces of organizations, big or small, for profit or not for profit.
Discrimination involves treating people differently based on qualities and characteristics that distinctly identify them. This includes offering or denying employment to people or even offering different compensation packages to people with the same qualifications and capabilities based on their, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation, country of origin or even sexual orientation. Equal employment acts seek to level the ground for all people seeking to get and maintain an employment opportunity. (United Nations, ND)
Other than the existing laws governing equal employment acts, organizations are also increasingly facing pressure from various social activism groups to follow religiously equal employment opportunities practices. Following this call, more and more companies are publicly disclosing their equal employment reports. Wal-Mart, which is the largest company whose shares are publicly traded in the United States, joined Hewlett-Packard, Citigroup, International Business Machines, Merck, Intel and Coca-Cola in the list of those companies which publicly disclose their equal employment reports. This could be explained partly by the virtue of it being with the largest workforce in the country and partly because of a share owner resolution filed by members of a coalition of faith based institutional investors called the
However not all are happy and comfortable with equal employment acts and their governing laws, there are those who are totally against it citing reverse discrimination as their case. Anti-affirmative action groups have come out strongly complaining that majority or dominant groups have suddenly become the discriminated groups since all the attention have been turned to the minorities in a bid to promote their chances against the highly competitive majority groups. This is being viewed as discrimination since one group is being favored at the expense of the other regardless of whether they are minority or majority group. There are increased calls for abolishment of quotas citing it as a discriminating factor in the human resource planning process. (
The challenge that equal employment laws are facing is evident in the words of Paul Davis, a spokes man and an advocate against reverse discrimination who was quoted saying, “Please forgive me for being white. I know it used to be ok and alright but now it is difficult to succeed in surpassing the affirmative action stampede; to get a joy for which you are qualified unless your skin color is first verified, your race approved and authorized…as if this was necessary for employment. Though they call it social advancement, I am beginning to believe otherwise. It is now white people they despise and disallow to get a job unless they are on the top of the affirmative color list.” (
The recent trend in case battles is enough evidence on the seriousness of the Federal government in ensuring that all the laws guiding equal employment are adhered to with the chief aim of safeguarding all the citizens against any act of discrimination. A very good case to point at is that of Tavern on the Green, a renowned restaurant in
Employees as well as applicants to most employment agencies, local and state governments, private employers, educational institutions and labor organizations are under the protection of the Federal Law from discrimination on any of the following bases.
These areas have been the major areas of interest in the equal employment debate and are guided by Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964 as amended.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, protects applicants and employees from discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral, and other aspects of employment, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), or national origin. Religious discrimination includes failing to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practices where the accommodation does not impose undue hardship. (EEOC, 2009)
Disability discrimination involves failure to make the necessary accommodation to the known mental or physical limitations of a qualified person with disability who is either an employee or an applicant thus disadvantaging him or her at the expense of the physically and mentally fit. Title I and Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 as amended gives protection to the disabled against any instances of discrimination in the processes of hiring, discharge, promotion, classification, training and development, remuneration, fringe benefits or any other aspect relating to employment. (EEOC, 2009)
It is illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and its subsequent amendments to discriminate an employee or an applicant who is forty or more years in the human resource processes of hiring, discharge, promotion, classification, training and development, remuneration, fringe benefits or any other aspect relating to employment. (EEOC, 2009)
In addition to title VII of the Civil Rights Act as amended that prohibits sex discrimination, the Equal pays Act of 1963 as amended makes it illegal, to base sex as the determining factor of the pay to award employees who substantially perform similar duties requiring similar qualifications and expertise, requiring the same effort and responsibility in the same organization and working under similar conditions. (EEOC, 2009)
Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 makes it illegal for employers to discriminate employees and applicants basing on their genetic information in hiring, promotion, pay, discharge, fringe benefits, training, referral, classification and other aspects of employment.
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act also restricts the employers from acquiring applicants’ and employees’ genetic information and limits the disclosure of the same. Genetic information includes genetic information about the applicant or the employee and that of his or her family; and receipt of genetic services on request by employees, applicants or their family members. (EEOC, 2009)
All the above discussed Federal laws prohibit all those covered therein from retaliating against any moves that are aimed at objecting any unlawful practice regarding employment. This protects those people who participate in discrimination legal proceedings or even file discrimination charges. This has gone a long way in improving the applicants’ and employees’ rights who were previously being intimidated by threats of loosing their jobs. (EEOC, 2009)
Equal employment opportunity acts are actually viewed from one side, the employer’s side which should not be the case. The Federal law does not say much about employees and applicants yet they have a moral obligation to facilitate equal employment opportunity efforts. Just like the employer is under obligation to follow equal employment practices, the employee is also required to act ethically by; respecting other staff with their diverse skills and capabilities, promoting peaceful workplace coexistence by desisting from any actions of harassment or discrimination targeted to other workmates, recognizing and appreciating cultural differences among all the stakeholders of the business but most importantly the customers and fellow employees and by providing quality services to the employer and customers at all times. An employee should keep in mind that it is only by treating others fairly that he or she can receive the same treatment. (
Equal employment opportunities acts have contributed greatly in developing not only favorable working environment but also fair employment chances to all in the job market. These laws have and are continuing to grow day after day with any arising opportunities of possible discrimination. For example laws regarding genetics were no there not until the year 2008.It is the duty of all people and institutions to ensure that they treat all people fairly to facilitate peaceful coexistence in and out of the workplace. (United Nations, ND)