Discrimination is the unfair treatment of different groups of people usually on the basis of race, sex, religion or disability. Naturally, individuals find themselves in situations of diversity and in different life settings where interaction with other humans is necessary. In this process of interaction, discrimination may creep in especially when minority groups are involved as they are perceived as unequal by the majority groups in the respective society. Education institutions health facilities and work areas are just but a few places where people meet in the process of pursuing their social endeavors. While discrimination is a legal offence, it is still finding its place within the society in various ways. The major targets of discrimination are the marginalized groups in a particular society. These include people from minority racial and ethnic origins such as black in or Hispanics living in majority white populations. Disabled people are also major targets of discrimination as they are easily judged on the grounds of their physical disabilities. Gender and employment have also become suitable grounds on which discrimination is propagated within the society.
Hate crimes are essentially the offences committed by individuals who are motivated by racial, sexual, religious, disability or any other form of prejudice. Hate crimes often involve violence in the process. Majority of hate crimes reported are committed by groups rather than individuals since it takes a heightened motivation to cause violence in the modern society. In 2013, four students in San Jose State University were charged with tormenting a black student in their hostel for several weeks. The hate crime in this case was motivated by discrimination on the grounds of color and essentially the misleading mentality that because of their skin color, black students could not measure up to the other white students. Clearly, the ability of human beings can never be judged from physical appearance.
Affirmative action policies are aimed at ensuring that the qualified individuals in society have equal and fair access to the opportunities available and that they are given these opportunities based on their abilities and talents. Affirmative action policies and programs have become popular because of the gradual development of prejudice in access to opportunities by different individuals. The Federal government has put in place policies that ensure that all members of the larger society are given equal opportunity at access to public opportunities. Marginalized groups such as individuals with disabilities are given a chance to be part and parcel of the teams in different leadership areas. Within the public sector, these affirmative action policies are mainly designed to induce positive action to ensure that the candidates in contention for consideration in public vacancies whether in schools, workplaces or other public avenues are given equal consideration.
In the courts, the fundamental reason for existence of affirmative action policies is to create a system whereby fairness and justice prevail and discrimination is eliminated. Of paramount importance is the result of affirmative action on individuals with different racial backgrounds in the courts of law. One such case in court is the Fisher v. The University of Texas 2013 in which a white woman was allegedly denied admission into the university on the grounds of her race (Fisher v. University of Texas, 2013). In this case, while the university’s admission criteria may entirely have been developed without the intention of discrimination, the process would be deemed to be discriminatory in the event that no other facet apart from race was a barrier for admission. The court, therefore, was compelled to intervene to ensure that the concerned student gets justice and is not discriminated by the institution.
On the one hand, employment criteria especially in public institutions have been renown to be transparent and fair in terms of equal access to opportunity in the public. On the other hand, discerning whether these opportunities are equally provided has been a matter of controversy. Employment discrimination has been in existence for a long time especially where disabled people are candidates. The federal government has laid down employment discrimination laws to prevent prejudice on the grounds of gender, race or physical disability (Equal employment opportunity Commission 1980). In fact, the issue of employment discrimination is a growing topic that is subject to hot discussions as public employment opportunities are becoming scarce in the modern society. Glenn v Brumby et al. 2008 is the legal case in which Vandy Beth Glenn was fired upon her revelation that she wanted to proceed with her transition from male to female. (Glen v Brumby, 2008). The employers, in this case her immediate supervisor Sewell Brumby violated the employment laws and thereby discriminated Miss Glenn.
Sexual harassment refers to sexual advances, requests or coercion for sexual favors including any physical or verbal acts that usually lead to an offensive environment. According to James E. Gruber, sexual harassment at the work place can be categorized into three; occupational and workplace sex ratios, organizational policies and protocols and women’s’ cultural status. In his study, Gruber asserted that the interaction of women and men had a great deal of influence on the existence of sexual harassment. While his theory primarily provides an insight into sexual harassment among employees, Gruber emphasizes that sexual harassment is rampant in many social situations. Gender predominance in the society serves as an important determinant in the occurrence of sexual harassment as it influences physical threat and sexual material in the society.
Louis Fitzgerald in his research puts sexual harassment into five basic categories. These categories were grouped by severity mainly gender harassment, seductive behavior, sexual bribery, sexual coercion and sexual assault. As can be seen from his opinion, sexual harassment need not be necessarily violent as long as it compromises the individual’s environment. Fitzgerald further breaks down these categories into smaller items that provide a clearer picture of the nature of sexual harassment with respect to the different groups. From this perspective, he narrows down to three major groups of sexual harassment that is conclusive and more effective. The three-factor groups are; bribery and threat; seduction and sexual imposition and gender harassment (Fitzgerald et al, 1998). This typology draws many similarities from Gruber’s three-category typology.
In conclusion, it is valid to say that discrimination still exists though in evolved forms among people in the society. Individuals and groups are exposed to discrimination in many ways. Hate crimes are propagated by discrimination in the society. While employment can be a source of discrimination, policies and programs are being developed to discourage the vice. Affirmative action policies in courts have had a high impact on public institutions especially in provision public opportunities.
Fisher v. University of Texas (2013). Retrieved from <http://www.law.cornrl.edu/wex/employmentdiscrimination>
Fitzgerald, L., Shullman, S., Bailey, N. et al (1998). The incidence and dimensions of sexual harassment in academia and the workplace. Journal of Vocational Behavior.
Glen v Brumby (2008). Retrieved from <http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/glenn-v-brumby-et-al>
Gruber, James E. (1992). A typology of personal and environmental sexual harassment: Research and policy implications for the 1990s. Sex roles.