EQUALITY AT WORK: LITERATURE REVIEWThere exists a vast body of literature relating to equality at work and more specifically, workplace discrimination and the various pieces of legislation that have been passed to curb this type of discrimination. As a very controversial and touchy topic, several authors have dedicated time and energy into its research thereby contributing immensely to the topic. Nonetheless, one of the key missing elements in the literature is a comprehensive and all- encompassing analysis of the topic in its entirety- from a historical overview of the strides made in eliminating workplace discrimination and inequality to the challenges that are still experienced.
Most literature focuses merely on one form of workplace discrimination such as racial discrimination or only in workplace discrimination in one country. The following literature review shall thus attempt to fill in these knowledge gaps by focusing on forms of workplace discrimination that have not received adequate attention such as sexual orientation- based discrimination as well as widening the scope of study by focusing on the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe as a whole to give a more comprehensive coverage of the subject at hand.
The main three forms of discrimination that shall be analyzed in the following discussion are sex, age and sexual orientation- based discrimination in relation to the gain that have been made in reducing them over the years and with regards to the effectiveness or lack thereof of the legislation that have been passed in attempting to curb these forms of legislation The work of Jasper (2008) provides a historical overview of how workplace inequality has been tackled in the United States over the years through their employment discrimination law.
The author dates this employment discrimination law back to the Unemployment Relief Act 1993 that held that during employment American citizens would not be subject to discrimination on account of their colour, race, or creed. This was quite groundbreaking given the racial segregation at the time. Further progress was made through the administrations of Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy. They all created Fair Employment Practices Committees to look into protests of discrimination that were severally levelled against businesses that had federal contracts.
Nevertheless, most of the legislation was devoid of any real enforcement mechanisms. As an example, Jasper (2008, p. 1) explains that in 1963, President Kennedy proposed legislation that merely sustained the established practice of attempting to eliminate discrimination by federal government- linked businesspeople by means of voluntary compliance without any enforcement mechanisms. Nevertheless, the 1963 amendments to the Civil Rights Bill were positive in that they widened the scope of anti- discrimination legislation by: creating the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) that became the federal anti- discrimination statute’s enforcement agency; making anti- discrimination laws applicable to all employers having in excess of 25 employees.
Blanpain, et. al (2008) in their work provide further illumination into the historical perspective of US employment law by analyzing the significance of Title VII which has been at the heart of creating the discrimination theory that has been used as a template for later anti- discrimination laws. In 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Johnson. Title VII made it unlawful to discriminate in employment based on a person’s race, colour, sex, religion or national origin.
It further prohibited the segregation, limiting or classifying employees in ways that would deny them employment opportunities (p. 27). This piece of legislation was crucial in finally creating concrete deterrences to employment discrimination and has since been followed by various pieces of legislation such as Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Fair Labour Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 as well as several state laws that contain additional protections.