Literature Review on Workplace Discrimination

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Literature review
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Discrimination refers to unlawful treatment to persons because of additional reasons. It is a common problem in many workplaces all over the world. Many employees find themselves subject to illegal discrimination because of their age, gender, race, mental capabilities, diseases, weight, and pregnancy among other justifications. Workplace discrimination occurs since business entities are never conversant with their obligations in law, or because cultures and stereotypes in the workplace find a basis on misinformation.

Types of discrimination in the Workplace

Workplace discrimination may be of religious beliefs. Such discrimination is prohibited under Civil Acts in many countries worldwide. It is upon the employer to allow accommodation of the employee's religious beliefs and practices. For instance, an employee who does not agree to homosexuality may decline to sign a diversity policy of a company that requires all employees to be tolerant and respectful to fellow employees. For instance, an employee who does not partake of pork meat should find accommodation during meals by having a substitute meal for him/her. (Robertson, G. 2015)

Religious discrimination encompasses issues such as disparate treatment, harassment, retaliation and non-accommodation of the religious beliefs. Adverse employment decisions in hiring, promotion, discipline, discharge, and compensation may be taken by the employer since the employee does not ascribe to the employer's faith. On the other hand, religious harassment happens when employees are forced or mandated to take part in spiritual practices as requirements of work or when they are coerced to abandon his/her methods of religion. (Ghumman, et al.,2013).

Mental disabilities also form part of workplace discrimination. Stereotypes liked to mental illnesses have got a hand in promoting workplace issues which ultimately affect the recovery process of the individuals with psychiatric challenges. Negative attitudes by employers on mentally ill employees affect the recruitment, promotion, and retention of the job of the victims. (Russinova,,2011) The behavior towards affected people should be kind and loving so that they also get an opportunity to maximize their potential.

Weight-based discrimination in the workplace is such an exciting issue to consider. However, this kind of discrimination affects more women than men implying that overweight men get favorable evaluation than obese women. The fact on the table that many employers need to take is that it is not proper for an employee to be denied a job or appraisal because of his/her weight. (Vanhove, A.,& Gordon, R. A. 2014).

Furthermore, HIV/AIDS has had its share in workplace discrimination and has increased anxiety, stigmatization, and prejudice to the affected groups. Nonetheless, people living with HIV/AIDS have equal rights to work and participate in the wellbeing of the surrounding community. Scientists have made progress in educating the masses on how HIV/AIDS can be prevented and controlled. Psychologists have also done massive work in informing people on the need of embracing those suffering from the disease so that they continue living the life free from stigma, fear, and discrimination.(Pereira, A. 2010)

Discrimination against age is also prevalent in the workplace. Older people should not be eliminated during hiring when there is an urgent requirement for highly talented and experienced workforce. (Santora, et al., 2008) Motivation, commitment, and dedication are the key drivers for making employment decisions. The organization may take note of saving hiring costs and go for younger workers, a consideration that may not be productive in the long run. Managerial posts require more experienced skills which come with age.

Obese people also face discrimination when recruiting workers, conducting appraisals and when making compensations. The physical demand for the job may be the contributing factor, but it should not be justification (Flint et al., 2015). The employer may argue that obese people may lower the productivity of the company, a claim that can lead to dismissal of a prospective employee or failure to secure a job.

Gender discrimination is effected in the workplace when some jobs are viewed as masculine and others feminine. In an organization dealing with various aspects of production processes, men may be favored for skills such as engineering and data analysis whereas women are employed to make tea and other menial jobs. (Jitendra, M. et, al 2013).

Remedies for Discrimination in the Workplace

Unlawful discrimination can be resolved through measures such as litigation against the employer when substantive evidence is gathered. In case the courts find culpability in the offense, it may institute reinforcement/compensation orders against the employer. This remedy has been one of the solutions to workplace discrimination.

Motivation is essential in dealing with workplace discrimination, especially the ones touching on gender and race. The affected group should be taught the essential fact of life which encourages people to move on in all instances of ridicule to achieve life goals. The organization needs to organize programs where workers participate in motivational talks in which they can air their views and suggest personal solutions to discrimination.

Additionally, the organization should change its employment policy so that it is accommodative of all religious beliefs. However, such accommodation should be reasonable and not give undue burden to the employer.

Besides, solving weight discrimination may call for the establishment of recreational facilities where the employees can make and maintain their bodies' fitness. Arguably, this is an additional investment, but in the long run, it will save the employer from losing overweight workers who may be more productive. Litigations that would arise in case a worker is discriminated based on his/her weight may also be prevented.

In conclusion, workplace discrimination is a notable problem in many organizations worldwide. No employee or prospective worker should be subjected to unlawful discrimination (Robertson, G. (2015). The law should be followed to the latter when resolving disputes related to false dismissal. The remedies pointed out will help a great deal in taming workplace discrimination.


Arrow, K. (1973). The theory of discrimination. Discrimination in labor markets, 3(10), 3-33.

Flint, S., Codreanu, S., Gomoiu, A., Cadek, M., Ivic, V., Zomer, C., & Walton, P. (2015). Obesity Discrimination in the Workplace:Youre Hired!. Journal of European Psychology Students, 6(2).

Ghumman, S., Ryan, A. M., Barclay, L. A., & Markel, K. S. (2013). Religious discrimination in the workplace: A review and examination of current and future trends. Journal of Business and Psychology, 28(4), 439-454.

Jitendra, M., Heather, S., & Kevin, B. (2013). Discrimination in the Workplace. Advances In Management.

Malos, S. (2015). Overt Stereotype Biases and Discrimination in the Workplace: Why Havent We Fixed This by Now?. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 27(4), 271-280.

Pereira, A. (2010). News and Views HIV/Aids and Discrimination in the Workplace: The Cook and the Surgeon Living with HIV. European journal of health law, 17(2), 139-147.

Robertson, G. (2015). Unlawful discrimination in the workplace. Legaldate, 27(3), 4.

Russinova, Z., Griffin, S., Bloch, P., Wewiorski, N. J., &Rosoklija, I. (2011). Workplace prejudice and discrimination toward individuals with mental illnesses. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 35(3), 227-241.

Santora, J. C., & Seaton, W. J. (2008). Age discrimination: Alive and well in the workplace?. The Academy of Management Perspectives, 22(2), 103-104.

Vanhove, A., & Gordon, R. A. (2014). Weight discrimination in the workplace: a metaanalytic examination of the relationship between weight and workrelated outcomes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44(1), 12-22.

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