Confronting Discrimination in Your Workplace

What is Discrimination in the Workplace

Joseph & Herzfeld (2008), a team of attorneys have provided details about discrimination that occurs in the workplace. According to the attorneys, discrimination in the workplace assumes various forms such as Sexual Discrimination, Racial Discrimination, Age Discrimination and others. In such incidents, colleagues, employers and other people in the office environment make suggestive actions or indulge in verbal abuse that offends a victim’s gender or ethnic origins. The authors have noted that while racial discrimination and sexual discrimination are the most common forms of abuse, incidents of harassment are equally important and form a major issue in the discrimination. Citing various examples, the authors suggest that sexual harassment usually occur to both white and black women and women of other ethnic origins. Racial discrimination and harassment usually occur to people of non white ethnic origins such as blacks, Hipics, Asians and others. A skit is provided in the following section where the setting is the engineering department of an organization.

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White People: Mike (Supervisor), Tom,
Black People: Robert, Mary
The four of them are having a meeting, the two white people are seated on one side of the table while the other two are seated on the other side.
Mike: Ya Robert, I see that you have many work items pending. I can see that the work order list has many tasks that are either not done fully or have not been started yet.
Tom: Ya Robert, you have some explaining to do. I just pointed out these pending items to our boss Mike.
Robert: See Mike, Please see the my workload and the workload of the other white guys including Tom here. How come I am giving so much heavy and dirty work while the other Whites are given easy stuff?
Mike: What do you mean Robert? I distribute the work among all the crew members.
Robert: Really, so lets see the work sheet of the other people.
Tom: Why should we show our work sheet to a “N…..r” like you?
Mike: Cool it now Tom. See Robert, there is no truth in what you are saying. I give the work as per the people capability and nothing else.
Robert: Really? So that is the reason why I am given all the heavy and dirty work? I see that Tom has done nothing the whole day but spend the hours visiting the drawing department to get some drawings while I have been working the whole day, covered with grease and oil
Mike: See Robert. Going to the drawing department and getting the drawings means explaining technical stuff to the designers and getting them done up properly. It requires some amount of speaking and technical skills.
Robert: And what makes you think that I cant talk to the designers myself? I have also done my certificate course same as Tom and got a higher grade.
Mike: No Tom, you don’t understand. For people of your color, such things are best not taken up. It requires as I said brains and the capability to talk and look decent.
Robert: And what makes you think I cant talk or think straight?
Mike: Well…. You know people of your race are best doing tough guy jobs like repairing pipes, replacing broken down parts and so on.
Robert walks out in a huff
Mary: See Mike I have to complain about the way my male colleagues are behaving with me.
Mike: Like what Mary?
Mary: See they are pasting all those pictures of people in awkward positions, all over the place.
Mike: Did they specifically target you or has anyone made any advance to you or said something that offends you?
Mary: Not exactly, but I feel awkward seeing these pics engaged in this type of activity.
Mike: Boys will be boys, why don’t you forget it.
Mary: I wont forget it and demand that the men remove those pics and stop this type of activity. I request this as a married woman. I have asked the guys to stop but they wont.
Mike: Well, I don’t know how this will go. The boys may do something even more nasty.

In the above discussion, there is an issue of a black worker Robert who feels that he is only given rough and dirty work while his other colleagues are given relatively easy work. The supervisor Mike feels that there is nothing wrong in making Robert do the dirty work, simple because he is a black, Mike feels that other work such as talking to designers, etc, requires some amount of brains that Robert does not have. Robert has pointed out that he is equally qualified as Tom and has got better grades but Mike does not want to listen and believes that since Robert is a black, he is fit to do only menial work.
As regards Mary, she has been subjected to sexual discrimination and harassment when  her male colleagues post pics of nude and semi nude girls in the locker room. Even though she complains to Mike, he is not ready to accept it and insists that boys will be boys. This kind of behavior from Mike and the other male colleagues should be put down firmly.

Joseph & Herzfeld. 2008. Tips For Employees Dealing With Discrimination. Retrieved 10 January 2008 from


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