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Friday, July 8, 2011

Equal Opportunity for All

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Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) comprises a series of statutes enacted over the years designed to prohibit workplace discrimination of many sorts. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 164, as amended, makes it illegal to discriminate in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin (Perrone, 17).


Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 17, as amended, makes it illegal to discriminate against federal employees and applicants for employment based on disability. Federal agencies are required to make reasonable accommodations to the known physical and mental limitations of qualified employees or applicants with disabilities (Burchell & Scott, 14). Section 501 also requires affirmative action for hiring, placement, and promotion of qualified individuals with disabilities.


The Equal Pay Act, as amended (11), prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex in the payment of wages where substantially equal work is performed under similar working conditions.





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The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as amended, protects people 40 years of age and older by prohibiting age discrimination in hiring, discharge, pay, promotions, and other terms and conditions of employment.


Although the guidelines of these laws are directed toward Federal Agencies, they have been expanded and are now in existence in many states, and are the law for private industry.


To stay within the law regarding race, American management has had to deal with the following Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 164; The Civil Rights Act of 11; The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); The Rehabilitation Act; The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 174; The Equal Pay Act of 16 & 11; The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA); Harassment law; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP); State Human Rights Commission.


Most observers of the American scene concur that there are, despite the numerous Federal programs in place to ensure non-discrimination in the workplace, numerous examples of inequalities in the American workplace. Evidence shows that workers are being discriminated against in the following areas


Gender


Women still earn less than men for doing the same work (Blau & Beller, 188; Holzer & Neumark, 000)


Race


Minorities still earn less than Caucasians in almost all industries (Burchell & Scott, 14)


Age


The difficulties of finding a job when the applicant is past 40 are well documented).


Sexual Orientation


Gays and Lesbians tend to suffer job discrimination more than heterosexual employees (Lorber, 18).


Education


There is growing evidence that people without computer skills are being discriminated against (Scott, 18).


To give this essay sufficient focus, only one of these areas will be analyzed, that of gender equality. Of these areas of discrimination, there is more evidence concerning gender inequality that is most often found in work settings. Many forms of gender inequality exist. These include sex segregation, differences in authority, and inequities in promotions and pay.


Reskin and Padavic (14), argue that there are three dimensions involved in gender inequality sexual division of labor, devaluation of jobs labeled as women jobs, and social construction of gender on the job. Many factors contribute to the inequality experienced by men and women, such as sex differences in preferences and productivity, cultural beliefs, men’s efforts, and employer’s actions. In 1840, 40% of the paid work force was comprised of women and children and much of this work was home based.


Both women and men performed the same tasks in order to get the work done. Labor in American society shifted from single household settings to small groups manufacturing in guilds. By the end of industrialization, when the site once again shifted from guilds to factories, only 17% of the paid work force was women. Many women worked around the house doing what was referred to as invisible work.





In 1, women made up 46.5 %, less than half, of the paid labor force. Many corporations discriminate against their female employees through sex segregation. In the


paid-work force, women are more likely to be found in secretarial jobs, rather than on an assembly line.


Fewer than 10% of Americans have a coworker who does the same job and is of the same sex. Many men don’t like to work alongside women because they feel their own work is overlooked because women tend to take more time on their work and, therefore, their work is neater and preferred. While sex segregation holds advantages for men, it is a deterrent for women. Segregation not only depresses the wages of women, it circumscribes their goals, aspirations, and options (Scott, 18), 4).


Hiring


The challenge begins with the hiring process. Philbrick, Bart & Hass (1) trace the challenge to the hiring process, and point out how the practices and requirements have changed during the past decade. The authors point to the fact that the expanding American economy along with the current labor shortage has created a situation where many businesses make erroneous judgments when hiring employees. The result of this action can lead to dismissal of the employee, which can often be lead to charges of inequality in the workplace. A mismatch can mean paying thousands of dollars in medical and workers compensation claims related to illegal drug use, or it can mean untold losses due to employee theft or lawsuits.


It is essential, therefore, for businesses to adopt a policy of requiring resumes, and then checking an applicants background (as far as is legal) to discern if potentially damaging secrets that have been covered up (Weaver 17, ).





In general, most companies adhere to the letter and the spirit of the law in their hiring practices. In an extremely illuminating analysis, Holzer and Neumark (000) report on an extensive survey they conducted of the American business scene. The authors conducted a survey of employers in four cities over two years to investigate how Affirmative Action in recruiting and hiring influences hiring practices, personnel policies, and ultimately employment outcomes. They find that Affirmative Action increases the number of recruitment and screening practices used by employers, raises employers willingness to hire stigmatized applicants, increases the number of minority or female applicants as well as employees, and increases employers tendencies to provide training and formally evaluate employees.


Further, the authors found, when Affirmative Action is used in recruiting it generally does not lead to lower credentials or performance of women and minorities hired. When it is also used in hiring, it yields minority employees whose credentials are somewhat weaker, though performance generally is not. Overall, the more intensive search, evaluation, and training that accompany Affirmative Action appear to offset any tendencies of the policy to lead to hiring of less-qualified or less-productive women and minorities.


Part of their conclusion includes these comments


In reality, however, Affirmative Action can incorporate and influence a wide variety of activities by employers. These include outreach or special recruitment efforts; changes in screening practices; changes in hiring, pay, or promotion standards; and special assistance programs to members of protected groups who are hired...The present paper differs from previous work on Affirmative Action by attempting to go inside the black box, providing a


fuller answer to the question, What does affirmative action do?” (Holzer & Neumark, 000, 40)





The survey showed that great --sometimes-exceptional -- care is taken in the initial interview to determine that there is no suggestion that any of the questions are being used to


discriminate on the basis of national origin, religion, race, age, sex, or disability. These types of inquiries are prohibited under various discrimination laws, including Title VII, ADEA, and ADA. Disability-related inquiries and medical examinations are permitted only after a conditional offer of employment has been extended to a job applicant (McKelway, 16).


In spite of these precautions, the initial discrimination in the workplace begins with the hiring process.


Researchers attempt to explain sex segregation in the workplace by invoking either workers or employers preferences. In economic terms, the former emphasizes the characteristics and choices of the labor supply; the latter claims gender discrimination in the labor market. Research guided by each perspective has shed light on the causes of the unequal distributions of the sexes across occupations, but neither workers nor employers preferences systematically assess how the organization of labor markets and the way work is carried out within establishments constrain the sexes occupational outcomes.


Jacobs (15) persuasively argues that to understand the operation of the labor market, one must examine the processes through which jobs and workers are matched. Huffman (15) in his penetrating analysis of women in the workplace traced the problems to the hiring process.





By attending to these issues, I address debates about personnel policies associated with equal employment opportunity (EEO) law. Most conceptions of these personnel practices are predicated on largely untested assumptions about the benefits of these practices for increasing opportunities for women in the workplace. For example, many assume that firm ILMs foster commitment to the organization, help the organization to retain employees and efficiently allocate labor, and increase equality by limiting managerial discretion over decisions regarding promotion and the allocation of labor . . .However, one possibility that runs counter to this rationalist account stressing the efficient allocation of human capital is that organizations adopt bureaucratic employment policies for reasons of symbolic compliance, adopting policies in order to appear meritocratic to the public, to prospective employees, and to federal regulatory agencies (Huffman, 15, 81).


Training


One great question in empowerment theory remaining is whether equal employment opportunity and affirmative action EEO efforts have been effective and whether the employment status of protected groups (including African American single women) has improved as a result of such efforts.


One researcher for example (Jacobs, 15)) found that the job situation for women during the 170s, and Blau and Beller (188) pointed to research that showed income disparity between men and women rose significantly between 171 and 181.





Regarding African American women specifically, Jacobs (15) shows a marked improvement in the job status of black women improved relative to that of white women and


men between 165 and 181. Even though many of these gains are attributed to the growth and sophistication of EEO legislation, (Auster & Drazin, 188), in recent years, it has been argued that EEO - AA legislation’s greatest effect has been “the proliferation of administrative structures rather than the progress of protected groups. The development of formalized human resource management (HRM) structures among employing organizations is the focus of a growing body of research.


After the Hiring is done


Any person who feels he or she has been discriminated against under any of the above enactments can file a claim in one of several ways. The most typical is to contact the State Labor Commission which gives full information on filing, including the necessary documentation. The claims require a great deal of research on the part of the government. And there is a large backlog, according to a GAO report. That same report gives a concise overview of the process.


EEO complaints are to be processed in accordance with regulations ( C.F.R. part 1614) promulgated by EEOC. These regulations also establish processing time requirements for each stage of the complaint process. Under these regulations, federal agencies decide whether to dismiss or accept complaints employees file with them and investigate accepted complaints. After the investigation, a complainant can request a hearing before an EEOC administrative judge, who may issue a recommended decision that the agency is to consider in making its final decision. An employee dissatisfied with a final agency decision or its decision to dismiss a complaint may file an appeal with EEOC. Generally, employees must


exhaust the administrative process before pursuing their complaints in court (“Equal Employment” 18)


If a company has been found in violation, fines of up to $450,000 can be levied, and much of that can go to the employee.





As Auster & Drazin (18) point out, national cultural differences and employee-related values are reflected in legislation, which has been seen in the HR field as a significant reflector of national values. In this sense, even though the U.S. has many rules concerning employment (anti-discrimination, equal opportunity, workplace safety, etc.), America, as Brewster points out, has “comparatively less legislative control over (or interference from, or support for) the employment relationship than is found in most of Europe (Brewster, 15, March 1, 7).


Based on the investigations of complaints by employees to the NLRB, which established field offices in most major cities, and beginning in 164, the philosophy of government intervention in business began a growth path that has yet to stop. That comment is not to be interpreted as support of illegal employment practices, but is meant to suggest an unusual corollary. For every act the government passes to help rectify an illegal hiring practice, there is an attendant amount of paperwork and record keeping requirements generated that must be handled by administrative staff.


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 164, for instance, forbid discrimination in hiring of any person based on race or ethnic background. And this was an act that gave birth to dozens of amendments that prohibited discrimination based on age, sex, sexual preference, religion and so on.


Again, with each of these amendments, which crated a great social good and a sense of fairness, heavy paperwork burdens were put on the administrators who now had to create and file documents that showed their companies did not discriminate, and at the same time respond to complaints that they had discriminated. It was roughly at this time that the growth of personnel and human resources functions in American business began expanding.





The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also had long-reaching implications for administrators, for this act not only created new sets of paperwork, and new compliance timelines, but also called for redesigning of the workplace, a task that usually fell to the administration staff. The list goes on The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 174 required two complete sets of compliance records, including filing a revised hiring policy that spelled out how the act would be complied with.


In the light of all these laws, it is becoming apparent that unionism might be on an upswing, as more and more employees take to the idea of union protection. A 184 poll by the Labor Relations Institute showed 0 percent of nonunion workers said they would vote to unionize. By 16, percent favored unionization (Holzer & Neumarj, 000).


A spokesman for the Institute thinks that since the UPS strike, things have changed dramatically. “I dont think many people realized a UPS driver was making $50,000 or $60,000 a year. If you are working for XYZ Company making $10 an hour and you see UPS paying part-timers $11 and full-timers $0 and the Teamsters have gotten them a $.50 raise, you may stop and think maybe unionization is a pretty good idea (Rothman, 18).


First, there is a scarcity of literature available discussing the negative aspects of increasing Federal and state controls over business, and therefore over the practice of


administrative techniques (Rothman, 18). These ever-growing controls are definite results of administrators having to deal with changes demanded by labor unions as their power and influence grew. If this scarcity exists because there is no empirical evidence or research done that shows those negative effects, then it makes the future career of administration look grim.





It does appear that over the years, there have been more rules and regulations telling management what it can and cannot do, and fewer rules and regulations telling labor what it can and cannot do (Nelson & Bridges, 1). The worker definitely has the advantage today. Whether or not they take advantage of that situation has yet to be proven, however. For the most part, it seems that workers, whether unionized or not, are looking for greater participation over the years have definitely fallen heavily on the side of labor, and seem to give administrators and management short shrift (Rothman, 18).


One important aspect of personnel services is the pre-recruitment and post-recruitment processes. This is crucial since these systems help the employer in assessing the qualifications, skills, experience etc. of an applicant and either absorbing suitable candidates into the organization, or recommending them to other clients (Alexander, 15. A1). Thus it can be seen that inequality is still with us, but it is no longer unspeakable (Rothman, 18).





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