As a result of globalization and increased capacity of many organizations, there is much diversity in the work place where people from different educational backgrounds, race, age groups, abilities, genders, among others work together with common objectives in one organization. Employers are therefore required to create a working environment that is free from any form of discrimination and based on equality (Siddiquee & Faroqi, 2010).1 Employers can demonstrate this principle by ensuring that all people can access development opportunities in their organization irrespective of their differences in backgrounds and giving disabled or disadvantaged people an equal chance to grow in their organizations. Equal employment opportunity will ensure that the worth and respect on an individual is based on his or her skills, knowledge, merit and abilities and not on their backgrounds. This study analyses the policy of equal employment opportunity and how it is used in both private and public organizations.
Equal employment opportunities may refer to the act of employers in all the sectors to ensure that they uphold impartiality and fairness in their process of employment. According to this principle, all employers should treat all their employees, both working and potential, in the same manner irrespective of their differences in color, sex, race, creed, sex, national origin or religion. Equal employment opportunity may be simplified as the process of eliminating any form of discrimination that may be based on the aforementioned differences. Discrimination occurs when employees in the organization are unequally treated due to biasness, prejudice or favoritism of some kinds. Many countries have enacted an Act of equal opportunity to make it unlawful for employees to be treated unequally just because of possessing protected characteristics. In US the commission for equal employment opportunity was established in July 1965 and all the commissioners are appointed by the sitting president as a way of ensuring that it is given the seriousness it needs to carry out its responsibilities. The mandate of this commission is to investigates all the complaints of discrimination that are based on race, national origin, color, age, sex, perceived intelligence, retaliation for opposing some form of discrimination and disability(Calvasina et al., 2010).2 This commission is given power to file legal suits that are related to discrimination on behalf of victims against the employers and also to adjudicate discrimination claims that are brought against agencies of the federal government. Despite the establishment of this commission, alleged cases of discrimination have continued to increase as employers discriminate their employees mostly on the bases of race and gender. In 1975, the cases that were filed to the commission exceeded 100, 000 charges which made it difficult for them to be fully investigated. In order to solve this problem of workload, President Ford requested a budget of about $62 million to be approved. This enabled ‘Backlog Unit’ unit to be established in 1978 to help in resolving thousands of complaints against federal government’s civil service that were raised by the commission of civil service. This budget also helped the commission to increase its staffs to facilitate investigations of discrimination complaints that were increasing day after the other (Lee, 2010). 3
EEO Complains process
The chart below shows the process that is legally followed to file discrimination allegations that are based on color, race, national origin, sex, disability, age or reprisal. The process may be either formal or informal depending with victim’s situation. In the formal procedure, the complaints are reported within the 45 days after the action of discrimination which is then accepted and investigated within six months. After investigating, the commission for equal employment opportunity request for hearing in the next six months where both the victim or his or her representatives and the accused person are given a chance to case against each other. After the hearing stage, the administrative judge gives his or her verdict that is then followed by the agency final action within the next forty days.
These are several discriminatory factors that employers use when they are unequally treating their employees. These factors include race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, mental, and physical disabilities among others.
An individual is discriminated when he or she is treated in a different manner just because he or she belongs to a particular ethnic group. The person may also be discriminated due possession of some characteristics that cannot be changed like physical appearances that are indigenous to the race where one comes from.
Color is used as a base of discrimination when a person is not treated in the same way as others just because of his or her skin pigmentation. People are treated on the basis of whether they are whites or blacks.
In organizations, an individual may be discriminated on the basis of religion when the recruitment panel requires him or her to deny or violate some or all fundamental precepts of his or her religion or else lose the opportunity for employment. The law requires that employers to create a reasonable accommodation for the religious requirements of their job applicants or employees unless by doing so they will create unnecessary hardship.
In employment, sexual discrimination occurs when women and men who are doing similar job or possess equal employment qualification are unequally treated just because of their gender. Employers are not allowed to exclude female employees from employment on the basis of childbirth, pregnancy or other medical conditions that are related with the gender of a person (Syed, 2008).4
e) National origin
A person is discriminated on the basis of national origin if he or she is unequally treated with others because of his or her place of origin or his ancestors’ background. National origin discrimination may also occur when employees are unfavorably treated on the basis of cultural, linguistic or physical characteristics. In extension, this form of discrimination also occurs when one is denied an employment opportunity because of association or marriage with a person of a given national origin.
An organization may be said to be discriminating its employees on the basis of age if those workers who are above mid-life years are unfavorably treated. For instance, in the federal sector, this form of discrimination may occurs if those employees who are forty years and above are unfavorably treated or if the organization they are working for implement unfavorable working and employment conditions that cannot be justified in relation to jobs they are doing.
g) Mental or physical disability
This type of discrimination may occur when persons with physical or mental disabilities are not given employment opportunities in a particular organization just because of their conditions. The discriminated person may have disabilities that limit him or her to do some activities, have medical records of such disabilities or perceived to have such disabilities.
h) Sexual harassment
This is a common form of harassment or discrimination that is associated with requests for sexual favors or other unacceptable physical or verbal conduct that are sexual in nature. This harassment may be in form of implicit or explicit conditions whose acceptance or rejection will influence the decision of employment, work assignments or promotions. In addition sexual harassment may also occur when a senior employee or employer creates a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment. These persons may also interfere with the work performance of the victims without any justifiable reason (Cass et al., 2010).5 Moreover, an employee may also be discriminated just because of his or her sexual orientation where some persons are denied employment opportunities on the basis of being gays, lesbians or any other sexual orientation category.
i) Desperate treatment
This type of discrimination occurs when some people are being treated less favorably, different, unequal without any justifiable reasons for doing so. This may also happen when an organization adopt a policy, practice, system or requirement which is seemed to be applied in the same to everyone but in reality it is intentioned to mistreat a particular group of people in the work place.
Benefits of being an equal opportunity employer
Adopting the policy of equal employment opportunity will enable the organization to remove all barriers and provide an assurance that every employee will be considered for employment opportunities of his or her choice thus giving him or her chances to release maximum potential for the benefits of the organization. In this practice, employees or job applicants are hired on the basis qualification, performance, experience and natural talents. The strategy of diversity enables the organization to hire the best people in the population which gives it an opportunity to tap their creativity, skills, and experience thus improving the productivity of the whole group. A diverse workforce is a powerful tool of improving business competitiveness, efficiency and profitability. By creating an equal employment opportunity environment, the management of the organization will also be based on merit which will facilitate recruitment, retention and motivation of the right people that are required for the organization to succeed. A tolerant and inclusive work environment will motivate workers to give their best. It also enhances understanding among people of different backgrounds and capabilities whose cooperation create a strong and more focused workforce that propel the whole organization to greater heights. Diverse workers bring in their talents, skills and experiences which help to achieve goals and objectives of the organization. In addition, a diverse workforce will give an organization a positive public image that respect and dignify all types of people irrespective of their race, sex, age, religion, nationality among other differences (Peetz et al., 2008). 6
The table below analyses different types of complaints on equal employment opportunity as they were recorded by the US National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) in the last six years. From the table, it is evident that the highest number of discrimination complains were based on race and particularly against the black-Americans which has the highest level of complains. It is then followed by sex-based complains especially against women who have reported more complaints compared to men. Gender-based complaints are then followed by disability-based complaints that are also high more so among people with physical disabilities. There are also several complaints that are related to age discrimination. Complaints based on other factors such as national origin and color are few compared to those complaints based on other factors such as race and gender. It is also evident that complaints of different factors have decreased with years. In 2011, there are very few complaints of different categories compared with the previous years. Decreased number of complains in the last five years can be attributed to adoption of policies for dealing with discrimination as advocated by the federal government and other agencies. Most complaints are based on racial differences especially against the black employees which can be attributed to racial discrimination that is practiced in the general American society against the black-Americans.
In table two, complaints are analyzed in term of issues and it is evident that most of the issues that were raised in the last six years are related with promotion. In 2008 and 2009, there were seven complaints related to promotion which are higher compared with all the other years. Issues related to non-sexual harassment and disciplinary actions were many compared to other complains such as hiring and medical examination which have received almost zero complains in the last six years. In addition, the number of issues reported has also been decreasing from 2006 to 2011. There were so many complain in 2006 compared to this year. This can be attributed increased campaign against discrimination in the work place for the last five years. It is also notable that the number of complaints related to hiring has also decreased as many organizations adopt the policy of equal employment opportunity. Perhaps, the area that needs to be addressed more is how promotions are done in most of the organizations since many of the reported issues are related to this area.
Implement more strict measures to address racial discrimination that is still high in many organizations especially against the black workers.
Female workers also need to be given more protection from gender discrimination that is still prevailing in many organizations.
Performance-based promotion also needs to be adopted in organizations since it is an area where discrimination is highly practiced.
All the organization should also continue to implement equal employment opportunity policy as a way of eliminating all forms of discrimination in their work place.
The principle of equal employment opportunity is very important in all the organisations especially at this age of globalisation and increased diversity in the workforce. Though many organisation have implemented this policy with a lot of success, there are some form of discrimination that need to be given more focus such as racial discrimination againnst the black-Americans and sex discrimination against women in the work place.
Calvasina, G., Calvasina, R. & Calvasina, J., (2010). Caregiver responsibility discrimination and the equal employment opportunity commission (EEOC) guidelines: policy and practice issues for employers. Journal of Legal, Ethical & Regulatory Issues, 13(2), 1-10.
Cass, S., Levett, L. & Kovera, M., (2010). The effects of harassment severity and organizational behavior on damage awards in a hostile work environment sexual harassment case. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 28(3), 303-321.
Lee, S., (2010). Race, sex, and rulemaking: administrative constitutionalism and the workplace, 1960 to the present. Virginia Law Review, 96(4), 799-886.
Peetz, D., Gardner, M., Brown, K. & Berns, S., (2008). Workplace effects of equal employment opportunity legislation: the Australian experience. Policy Studies, 29(4), 405-419.
Siddiquee, N. & Faroqi, M., (2010). Equal Employment Opportunity in the Public Service: Theory and Practice in Bangladesh. International Journal of Public Administration, 33(8/9), 451-462.
Syed, J., (2008).A context-specific perspective of equal employment opportunity in Islamic societies. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 25(1), 135-151.