Discrimination in the Workplace: Discrimination at SafePlanet

Introduction

Discrimination in the workplace is common everywhere in the world. Females are the most victims of discrimination. The term discrimination can be defined as “unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice.” (Wordnet search: noun). It is difficult to believe that, even in this developed age the world is facing serious discriminatory practices in the workplace. Sometimes, the innocent employees are victimized to protect the interest of some others. That is what has happened in SafePlanet. A female employee namely Lucy, was affected by the discriminatory action on the part of the organization. Workplace discrimination is said to be in existence “when an employee suffers unfavorable or unfair treatment due to their race, religion, national origin, disabled or veteran status, or other legally protected characteristics.” (Understanding workplace discrimination: what is workplace discrimination 2009).

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Case Study: Discrimination at SafePlanet

This is a case study of the discrimination faced by an employee namely Lucy at SafePlanet. SafePlanet is a large non-government organization. Though the company is a provider of equal opportunity, having a policy that is against the discrimination in workplaces, the company was accused of committing serious discrimination towards a female employee. Lucy was a hardworking employee. She was 58 years old. When a vacancy arose in the senior section in the same organization, Lucy also applied for the post. But her application was not short-listed. She was very much unhappy and disappointed with the HR People who are responsible for the recruitment and selection. She was sure that, she is qualified enough to get selected for the post. Moreover she believed in the company’s policy of equal opportunity for employment in which the candidates will be selected purely on the basis of merit. When she inquired about why she did not get short-listed for the next round of selection, she got reply that there were some others who were more qualified than Lucy. By hearing this Lucy was relieved thinking that they were selected purely on merit basis. But later, at the time of final round of selection, when Lucy investigated to find out who are all selected and what the basis for selection was, the real fact came out. The two short-listed candidates were male and younger. She realized that there was discrimination on the basis of age and sex. The company forgot its policy of providing equal opportunity and merit-based selection. When Lucy compared herself with the two short-listed candidates on merit basis, she found that, one candidate is equal to her on merit and the other is below her. By knowing she was very much disappointed and felt angry towards the concerned people who were responsible for these issues. She believed that age will not be a problem for hard-working and also she was confident of performing well in the new position if she got selected.

Here two kinds of discrimination took place. One is discrimination on the basis of age and the other one is discrimination on the basis of sex. Age discrimination is one of the common forms of discrimination in workplace. When an employee is denied or delayed of any benefits or opportunities due to him/her, because of the reason of either high or low age, it is called age discrimination. Age discrimination may be either direct or indirect. Direct age discrimination refers to showing unfairness towards an employee due to the age of employee. Direct discrimination includes denying promotion, dismissal of an employee…etc. Indirect discrimination refers to providing some basis or policies in the selection process for the benefit of some candidates, which negatively affects the other candidates. (Age and the workplace 2006).

Age discrimination happens due to different reasons. The company may feel that retaining the aged employees is a little expensive, because they are having years of experience and have to reward them with more compensation than young employees. Another reason is that, there is belief among the employers that when employees become older, enthusiasm and initiative will come down which will ultimately affect the business and thereby overall performance of the organization. But the researches show that age is not a barrier to better and efficient performance in the job. According to a report of GO60.com, there is “no relationship between age and job performance.” (Doyle 2009).

So, the way the company behaved toward Lucy was not acceptable. She really deserved the post of newly reported senior position. At least, the company could have included her in the list of short-listed candidates. A good work environment where there is no discrimination is essential for making the employees satisfied and retaining them for a long period. Age discrimination de-motivates the employees and results in the reduction of morale of employees. Sometimes they quit the job and look for jobs in other companies. All these will affect the reputation as well as business of the company. “From 1 October 2006 the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations make it unlawful to discriminate against workers, employees, job seekers and trainees because of their age.” (Age and the workplace: Introduction 2006, p.3).

Another discrimination faced by Lucy was sex discrimination. The people are living in a male-dominated world. The women are always ill-treated by the society. There is some belief that, the women cannot do everything that the men do. The women are treated as powerless. And also the society has a notion that some jobs cannot be assigned to women as they will not be able to do that.

“Reskin (1988) concurs that even if comparable worth or the sex integration of jobs takes place, neither will greatly reduce sex differences in employment. She suggests that, “the basic cause of the income gap is not sex segregation but men’s desire to preserve their advantaged position and their ability to do so by establishing rules to distribute valued resources in their favor (Reskin 1988,p.61).” (Gender discrimination at work: dimensions processes and variations by race and class 2008, p.5).

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The discrimination toward the women community will definitely affect the confidence of the women employees. “Researchers and management practitioners alike have documented how difficult it is for women to break corporate “glass ceilings”. A glass ceiling is an apparent barrier to advancement to the highest level of an organization.” (Ohlott, Patricia, J, Ruderman, Marian N & McCauley, Cynthia, D 1994, pp.46-67).

Another problem faced by Lucy was that isolation. The older people sometimes may not get enough consideration from the young employees. They may try to isolate them. And also she did not go for further action as she feared that she will be isolated and it will affect her future. She realized that the number of employees who support her would be less. And also she failed to produce an authentic evidence for proving that she was discriminated against. If she goes for further action without clear evidence, that also will trouble her as it may cause many difficulties to her in future. Though she tried to forget the things, the feelings haunted her again and again. It is understood that nobody can easily forget if a good chance of promotion is missed without any mistake of the concerned individual. Finally, she was offered a similar position, as she applied for earlier, in a different division of the SafePlanet. The place of work was far away from her present place of residence. She was not in a position to accept this offer as she was having old parents who live in the care of Lucy.

As Lucy was sure that she was discriminated against on different grounds, she could go for further actions. There are so many laws for the benefit of employees who are subjected to discrimination. These laws provide different options for employees to go for further legal actions. Lucy can file a complaint in the tribunal. If the tribunal finds that her complaint is genuine, the tribunal requires the employer (SafePlanet) to pay compensation to Lucy. Another solution is that, she can try for same senior position in other companies. The situation may not be the same in all the organizations.

To eradicate different kinds of discrimination in the organization, the company has to take all necessary steps. If there is any kind of discrimination in an organization, that will result in high labor turnover which means there will be increase in the cost of recruitment, selection, training and development. The company should keep work-related and other records of the all employees including the performance evaluation details of the employees, so that when any issue arises regarding promotion or filling a senior vacancy, the company can easily go through these records and can easily find out who really deserves the newly vacant position. The organization should ensure a proper HR Management, which should be acceptable to all the employees. It should draw up a clear cut policy in matters connecting to the recruitment, selection, training, development, promotion, transfer…etc, so that an incident like Lucy’s case does not happen in future.

Conclusion

The basic principle of equality in employment is not implemented in most the organizations even in this modern and socially developed world. It is expected that in an organisation like SafePlanet this kind of incident should not happen. One should practice what it preaches. That means the situation should not be like one, in which the organisation says it is against discrimination but inside the organization there are different kinds of discrimination. So the company shall have to take necessary steps to eliminate discrimination in the workplace.

References

Age and the workplace 2006, Investor in People,Web.

Age and the workplace: Introduction 2006, Investor in People, Web.

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Discrimination in the Workplace: Discrimination at SafePlanet
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Doyle, Alison 2009, Age discrimination: how old is too old, About.com: Job Searching, Web.

Gender discrimination at work: dimensions processes and variations by race and class 2008, All-Academic Research, Web.

Ohlott, Patricia, J, Ruderman, Marian N & McCauley, Cynthia, D 1994, Gender differences in managers’ development job experiences, Academy of Management Journal, vol.37, no.1, pp.46-67, Web.

Understanding workplace discrimination: what is workplace discrimination 2009, All Business: A D & B Company, Web.

Word net search: noun, 2009. Web.

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