Workplace discrimination is among the major issues that affect several modern organizations in the US. Today, the US is a highly diversified society due to the influx of people from other countries who come to look for jobs and better opportunities in life. As a result, many organizations in the US have a more diversified workplace environment. Despite the greater diversity at workplaces, workers always tend to associate with others who share their cultural beliefs and practices.
In this regard, minority groups have found themselves alienated from dominant groups as employees define themselves based on their cultural orientations, belief systems, age, ethnicity, religion, nationality, or any other relevant demographical characteristics. In addition, there is an emerging LGBT group as workplaces evolve. This may cause workplace discrimination if organizations fail to address it effectively. Workplace discrimination has negative impacts on employee productivity.
It inhibits teamwork and cooperation when employees are required to work together and address certain issues in an organization. In addition, discrimination at work limits employees’ creativity and innovativeness because it hampers the culture of knowledge sharing. In this regard, organizations should address workplace discrimination effectively to ensure that it does not hinder employees and organizational prosperity. This research will utilize a case study qualitative approach in data collection and analysis in order to find a solution to employee discrimination at the workplace.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of this case study is to explore cases of workplace discrimination, the basis of discrimination, and propose effective ways of stopping the widespread and persistent employment discrimination.
Recent social researches revealed that American society had been affected by the problem of discrimination ever since slavery, and the slave trade was introduced in the country several centuries ago. In addition, several scientific field studies, academic journals, court cases, newspapers, and other reliable sources have documented widespread and continuing workplace discrimination (Huppke, 2013). This situation shows a lack of fairness in workplaces. While fairness at workplaces is critical, many employees continue to experience workplace discrimination. Consequently, their productivity and potentials have declined because discrimination at workplaces hampers outcomes and can be major occupational hazards (Okechukwu, Souza, Davis, & de Castro, 2014).
Roscigno (2007) noted that discrimination intensified after the abolition of slavery and soon after independence. Americans have embraced the culture of tolerance because the world looks for it as a pillar of democracy and just society. As a result, there are remarkable improvements as society aims to be free from any form of discrimination. Nevertheless, discrimination is yet to be eliminated in American society. Roscigno (2007) further stresses that current socio-cultural variations among employees are the major contributing factors to discrimination at workplaces.
While some cases of discrimination are obvious, others may not be directly noticeable to employees, for instance, in cases where an individual is paid less salary compared to others or assigned inhumane tasks. In addition, workplace discrimination may also take soft forms, such as denying an employee a promotion that he or she deserves because of her or his gender, culture, religion, race, or any other demographical factors. Workplace discrimination could also be in the form of alienation of other employees because they do not share common beliefs or cultural practices.
According to Cohn (2009), it is imperative to address discriminatory issues at workplaces in order to avoid their impacts on an organization. Employees can work as a team when an organization addresses any discriminatory challenges it faces. This will allow employees to share new ideas and promote innovation across various fields. When employees work as a team, they are most likely to find solutions easily because of idea-sharing. Workplace discrimination affects employees’ morale, and therefore, it is necessary for organizations to eliminate it and value their employees in order to boost productivity.
Employees who watch others treated unfairly may also perform poorly (Huppke, 2013). A lack of discrimination at workplaces could foster employee unity and help in addressing broader individual or organizational challenges. According to Huppke (2013), employees should come to work safely in the knowledge that they “will be judged solely on their performance” (p. 1). This can be a great source of security for employees who can be able to achieve their full work potential (Huppke, 2013). Therefore, both employees and organizations will benefit from the elimination of workplace discrimination.
Specific research questions are important in defining a path that guides data collection in any project. They provide researchers with a guideline on the type of data to be collected. Consequently, researchers avoid the collection of irrelevant data. In qualitative research, open-ended questions are often used to give the respondents the opportunity to express their views freely. The following are some of the research questions that will guide the process of data collection.
- What is your view about discrimination at your current or past workplace?
- What forms of discrimination have you experienced at your current or past work?
- How do you think the victims of discrimination feel when they are within the workplace?
- Do you believe that discrimination against employees has a significant impact on the overall output of the firm?
- What do you believe is the best way of addressing the issue of discrimination in the workplace?
Method of Investigation
This research will use case study qualitative method to collect and analyze data. According to a study by Tellis (1997), case study is “an ideal methodology when a holistic, in-depth investigation is needed” (para. 1). Hence, it is an effective methodology for investigating workplace discrimination.
A case study will be conducted in a single organization to determine issues of workplace discrimination. The researcher recognizes that a case study involves multi-perspective analyses and therefore, several participants will be selected for interviews. Only participants who will be able to provide accurate and alternative explanations will be involved in the study. This strategy would ensure validity of the study because of multiple sources of data.
Unstructured questionnaire will be used for data collection. The researcher will use unstructured interviewing, one of the popularly used qualitative research methods. Liamputtong (2009) noted that “Unstructured interviewing involves direct interaction between the researcher and a respondent or group” (p. 67). The researcher will use open-ended questions to gather information from the participants. This strategy allows respondents to answer questions based on their broad views and experiences rather than restricting answers to yes or no.
Given the nature of the study topic, the researcher aims to account for experiences of respondents, who could have personally experienced workplace discrimination. Unstructured questions, therefore, are the most suitable for gathering the required information (Tracy, 2013). Moreover, the researcher recognizes that various respondents may provide different accounts of workplace discrimination. For instance, perpetrators and victims of discrimination may have diverse views on the issue.
Data will also be obtained from archival records and documentation from the organization of the study.
Data analysis will involve cleaning, examining and categorizing obtained evidence to address workplace discrimination (Tellis, 1997). However, Tellis (1997) observed that case study analysis is not well developed. Researchers, therefore, should have a general analytic strategy to manage data that will be analyzed and for what purpose. Nevertheless, identification of themes and explanation-building shall assist the researcher to build explanations for workplace discrimination. In other words, the researcher will be able to provide an explanatory case study of discrimination at the workplace in the chosen organization. Explanation-building could be difficult because of its iterative nature, but researchers must understand such challenges before using it.
To ensure that the analysis maintains high quality standard, the researcher will ensure that all relevant data are used, all opposing views are expressed, analysis focuses on critical aspects of workplace discrimination and the researcher will rely on available knowledge and experiences to enhance outcomes of the study.
Strengths of Qualitative Methods
A number of reasons justified the use case study qualitative methodology.
- Case study will allow participants to respond to questions based on their personal understanding and experiences (Tellis, 1997)
- The method shall ensure that the researcher gather data from multiple sources such as respondents, archival records and documents regarding workplace discrimination
- It would ensure that the researcher understands attitudes of respondents based on interview questions
- Detailed explanations of events and their consequences will be gathered
- It would provide more in-depth accounts of events than other approaches
- The face-to-face interaction during the interview will help in motivating the participants to ask any questions that they may have toward the project. This will increase their chances of participating in the research.
It is because of the factors above that the researcher considered it appropriate to use qualitative methods in this study.
Weaknesses of Qualitative Method
Guven (2008) noted that qualitative research has some weaknesses that could affect its ability to provide the required data for the study. Thus, the researcher should be able to identify these challenges before the study starts.
- The process of collecting data through open-ended questions is time-consuming. For instance, some respondents could provide elaborate responses for questions that require simple answers.
- Data collected could be voluminous as respondents tend to elaborate on their responses without restrictions
- Data analysis process could be complex due to diverse opinions about an issue. In some cases, the researcher may account for all diverse views from respondents independently.
- Critics have argued that it could be difficult to generalize findings from case study analysis
The researcher has recognized potential impacts of these challenges and therefore care will be taken into account to enhance the quality of the study.
The study findings are expected to discover the causes of workplace discrimination and provide a detailed explanation of its impact on an organization. One major cause of workplace discrimination is the inability of some employees to accept the existence of diversity in workplaces. Stereotyping and feelings of superiority are also responsible for workplace discrimination. When employees believe that they are superior to others, then discriminatory acts would arise and cause the differences.
Many studies have recognized negative impacts of workplace discrimination on both employees and employers and therefore, they agree that fairness at work is good (Huppke, 2013). Failure to control workplace discrimination could result into anarchy within the workplace. Employees will classify themselves along the lines of race, religion, age, gender or any other demographical factors.
It would limit the ability of these employees to integrate into a single unit that is focused on achieving mutual interests within an organization. Employees will tend to focus on their self-interests rather than on the organization. Workplace discrimination could lead to verbal or physical assault and psychological effects as various groups aim to assert their dominant positions on others.
Cases of workplace discrimination have led to attacks on others because of their race, sexuality or religious beliefs. This situation shows how workplace discrimination can make other employees vulnerable and risk their safety. Okechukwu et al. (2014) have noted that workplace discrimination is a contributing factor to occupational health injustice. Failure to address workplace discrimination could lead to detrimental outcomes for an organization because employees will not be able to maximize their potential.
It is expected that the study will provide holistic, in-depth aspects of workplace discrimination and helps in formulating suitable strategies to eliminate it in the focus organization.
Workplace discrimination has continued despite several efforts and laws to curb it in the US. As a result, it has led to negative outcomes for both employees and employers. On this note, it is imperative to conduct a study to evaluate critical aspects of discrimination at workplaces. This case study will highlight some fundamental elements of workplace discrimination, basis of discrimination and propose effective ways of mitigating the widespread and persistent employee discrimination. The researcher believes that the findings would help in addressing effects of workplace discrimination in organizations.
Cohn, S. (2009). Race, Gender, and Discrimination at Work. New York: Westview Press.
Guven, L. M. (2008). The Sage encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. Los Angeles: Sage.
Huppke, R. (2013). What’s more fair than fairness at work? Chicago Tribune. Web.
Liamputtong, P. (2009). Qualitative research methods. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.
Okechukwu, C., Souza, K., Davis, K. D., & de Castro, B. (2014). Discrimination, harassment, abuse, and bullying in the workplace: Contribution of workplace injustice to occupational health disparities. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 57(5), 573–586. Web.
Roscigno, V. J. (2007). The face of discrimination: How race and gender impact work and home lives. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Tellis, W. (1997). Application of a Case Study Methodology. The Qualitative Report, 3(3). Web.
Tracy, S. J. (2013). Qualitative research methods: Collecting evidence, crafting analysis, communicating impact. Malden, MA : Wiley-Blackwell.