Business Politics

Nondiscrimination in the Workplace

Politics has played an important role in the introduction of nondiscrimination policies in the American workplace. It is an undeniable fact that several cases of discrimination in the workplace have transpired and still continue to happen in some corporations even if these do not admit it. A number of competent, diligent, and qualified Americans are deprived of getting jobs. A number get fired or are denied employment for reasons that are not related to their skills and abilities. These companies disparagingly deny equality, dignity, respect, and opportunity in the workplace.

It is for this reason that American legislature is continually seeking ways to make or improve bills and laws in order to create workplace practices that promote diversity thereby producing equitable and healthier working environments. Equality in the workplace has always been acknowledged as a fundamental right protected under federal law. Federal laws presently afford Americans with basic legal protection against workplace discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, disability, or nationality; although some advocates are still lobbying for such laws to include gender identity or sexual orientation and gender expression.

For years, American legislators have been trying to eliminate discrimination barriers in everyday living including the workplace. Several events and movements have served as integral factors that led to companies advertising as nondiscriminatory. In 1974, New York Representative Bella Abzug introduced the Equality Act of 1974, which was a federal bill to prohibit discrimination against unmarried persons, women, gays, and lesbians in housing, public accommodations, and in employment. In 1975, Abzug initiated the Civil rights Amendment of 1975, to make existing civil rights laws encompass “affectional or sexual preference.” In 1977, U.S. Representative from New York, Ed Koch took over leadership on the nondiscrimination bill. By April of the same year, the bill had produced 39 co-sponsors. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, which was a law to ban discrimination against persons with disabilities, including people with HIV/AIDS, in private employment.
In 1991, a national campaign was launched against the Cracker Barrel chains of restaurants for homophobic employment policy. The said company fired noticeably gay workers who failed to comply with normal heterosexual values. In 1993 President Bill Clinton signed into law the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy. The act requires that as long as homosexual or bisexual men and women in the military conceal their sexual orientation, senior officers are not permitted to investigate their sexuality. In 1994, The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced; however, Congress has halted its progress. In 2007, a group of U.S. House Representatives has taken initiative to push the non-discrimination law. The ENDA is a federal bill designed to supersede the comprehensive House gay civil rights omnibus bill that was originally initiated by Abzug. It was proposed to prohibit discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation. It requires that an employer must equally regard each potential employee based on his or her qualification and ability to perform the job, regardless of his or her sexual orientation. Thus, it is illegal to fire, refuse to accept, or refuse to promote workers based on their sexual orientation. Presently, it is legal in 31 states to terminate an employee on the basis of sexual orientation while it is legal in 39 states to fire an employee based on gender identity.

There have also been several lawsuits filed against discrimination in the workplace and these have led to companies advertising as nondiscriminatory. One case sample is Tyson Foods, Inc., a leading universal meat producer, that was sued by African-American employees. The black employees alleged that the company allowed a separate lounge and bathroom for their employees, which included a sign indicating “Whites Only,” which was posted on the wall in their Alabama plant. Another case is a Mexican employee who was told by his supervisor from Temple Public Works that he would not get the promotion because he was born “on the wrong side of the border.” Moreover, because of the rise of pregnancy discrimination cases and the subsequent tangible fear of legal implications, more and more women of childbearing age are being accepted into the labor force.