Discrimination is defined as “unfair
treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice”. (WordWeb, 2007). In a broader discrimination also means to
identify qualities and differences of a particular thing or person which in turn determines making a choice based on those
qualities. (Wikipedia, 2007). Discrimination may be direct or indirect.
Direct Discrimination: When a person
is subjected to lesser favouritism or is treated less favourably than the other in an identical situation because of their
racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation; then discrimination can be said to occur.
To further explain this, let us take an example of a job advertisement in a newspaper which reads “Disabled people may
not apply”. This can be explained as direct discrimination which takes place more explicitly.
Other examples of direct discrimination
may include a retailer who rejects qualified people for the post of a job assistant, either due to their ethnic or racial
origin. Similarly, a hotel manager can be said to be guilty of discrimination if he/she refuses admittance of a particular
sect/community (e.g. gypsies).
More often however, discrimination
may take occur in a subtle form. This is referred to as indirect discrimination. This can be better explained as “Indirect
discrimination occurs when an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would disadvantage people on the grounds
of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation unless the practice can be objectively
justified by a legitimate aim”. (Stop-discrimination, 2007).
A simple example of indirect indiscrimination
can be a job test which requires people to sit a test in a particular language. That language may not be necessary for the
job and yet a certain group of people need to sit for that language test. A certain group may be completely excluded to sit
for the language test. This is described as indirect discrimination, which is
more implicit and subtle in nature. This can be further exemplified as a company who is hiring translators and imposes the
condition that the applicant needs to hold a valid driver’s license (as the potential employee may be required to travel
to deliver work). This implicitly bars the disabled people from applying for that particular job and the company can be said
to be effectively discriminating against this particular group of people. Another pertinent and strong example may include
a retail or departmental store which bars people to wear hats or any kind of headdress while serving customers. This in effect
is indirect discrimination against Muslim women whose religious beliefs require them to wear a headdress most of the time.
Factors like age, disability, ethnicity,
sexual orientation or religion lead to discriminatory attitudes and practices. Organizations and companies can in fact enhance
their overall performance and management if discrimination can be tackled effectively especially at workplace. Laws today
prohibit discrimination, harassment and victimization of employees.
After having recognized discrimination,
it is the duty of the manager or employers to support the victims by helping them seek legal advice, provide emotional support
as well as help them confront the perpetrator and with effective arbitration, discrimination can be tackled and resolved.
This however, requires team effort.
Stop Discrimination, EU Policy (2007)
“What does discrimination mean”
Available from: http://www.stop-discrimination.info/46.0.html
Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia (2007)
Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination