Discrimination

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Discrimination

Discrimination . . . it’s a horrible word isn’t it. It means that somebody, somewhere is not being treated fairly just because they’re older than somebody would like, have a different color skin, sexual orientation, follow a different religion or creed, heck, people can be discriminated against just because they’re of the “wrong” gender.

Discrimination is largely frowned upon in the developed world, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still go on:

Employment Discrimination

Many people feel that they are “overlooked” at work, not because of their qualifications or ability to do a good job, but for other, darker reasons. Getting fired, passed over, not hired, being paid a smaller salary for doing the same job, getting all of the poor assignments are all types of discrimination which still goes on in the workplace. This can be because of age (perhaps a younger person manages to leapfrog straight over you for no other reason than their age), because of gender (maybe women aren’t deemed suitable for the board room!!), because of your national origin etc.

State and federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against any individual based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • National Origin
  • Marital Status
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Pregnancy

This includes the process of hiring and firing employees, as well as the conditions and terms of their employment.

Many people would argue that America has come a long way to stamp out discrimination in the workplace and provide a fair working environment for all . . . others would disagree. Okay, so there have been significant improvements in equality and civil rights over the last 100 years or so (it’s less than 150 years since slavery was abolished in America), but there’s still a long way to go. Discrimination can start in the school yard and follow right through life – if you don’t wear the “right” clothes, if you’re not considered to be “attractive”, maybe you have a physical disability which makes certain tasks difficult for you, if you’re not considered to be “clean” or “smart”, if you don’t live in the right part of town. Discrimination is not only used against people because of age, nationality, color and sex but a whole load of other things in between.

When I first found myself in the employment market (too many years ago to remember, but much less than 100!) I had a very good friend (smart she was too, and she put me to shame with her ability to sort things out) who lived on the “wrong” side of town. After never even getting to the interview stage of any prospective employment, she asked if it would be okay to use our address on her future job applications (we only lived about half a mile away, but in an area considered to be more socially acceptable), and would you believe it – she was offered an interview after her very next job application and got herself a great job. Of course, once they’d met her they didn’t really mind where she lived (and would never admit to anything else) . . . but just getting past the initial discrimination was a hurdle she realised that she must, and she did climb.

It’s about time that we started to recognize people for who they are, not what they look like or where they live. I know that there are laws in place to address these issues but the truth is that it’s still going on, however quietly in every school yard and work place in the world. Aren’t there some horrible people about, and the majority of them probably don’t even realise what they’re doing.

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