The treatment of individuals of some groups in a better or worse way based on ethnicity, race, gender, sex, religion or other factors constitute to illegal discrimination. Employment discrimination has been a major concern for many countries. They, however, approach this topic differently and use their legislation to level the playing ground in employment through the protection of equal employment opportunities for their employees in their organizations. Equal employment opportunities (EEO) refer to the equal treatment of employees in all employment related activities (Alexander & Alexander, 2005). Countries have passed various laws that protect the individuals with designated characteristics such as age, race, gender or disabilities.
These individuals belong to the protected class, a category that is identified for protection under the equal employment laws and regulation. This paper examines how the USA and Australia consider the issue of employment discrimination and then analyses the similarities and differences in their approaches that they use to address the concept of equal employment opportunity. In the US, illegal discrimination in employment may occur either through disparate treatment or disparate impact (Mathis & Jackson, 2008).
Disparate treatment is illegal discrimination where employers use different standards to judge different individuals or they may use same standards, not related to a particular job, to judge individuals differently. On the other hand, disparate impact occurs when individuals of a protected class are substantially underrepresented due to employment decisions that do not work in their favor. Although significant focus has been taken by HR professional in the US to address the issue of discrimination, job harassments and retaliations, there are still cases of employment discrimination which need to be addressed.
The federal gorvenment has set legal systems that seek to address the history of workplace exclusion of individuals on the basis of sex, race, religion and national origin. This sectin focuses on the US anti-disrcimination laws. It starts with the most important statute, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which has been central in the development of discrimination theory and has been applied to the subsequent discrimination laws. According to Ivancevich (2008), the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its amendments prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, or national origin at any stage of employment by state, private or local government employers with more than fifteen employees.
The major amendments to Title VII include the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (Blanpain, Nakakubo, Araki & Barnard 2008). Title VII also prohibits employment discrimination by employment agencies or labor unions of any size by the federal government. It forbids not only the intentional discrimination but also unintentional discrimination.
The executive order 11246 originally issued in 1965 and amended in 1967 by executive order 11375 require the federal contractors to use affirmative action to eliminate the present and prior employment discrimination. Bloch (2001) argues that neither Title VII nor executive order 11246 forbids discrimination on age, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (amended in 1978 and 1986) prohibits employers to discriminate individuals who are above 40 years. It also prohibits mandatory requirements except in cases where age is a bona fide occupational requirement. Age discrimination in early retirement and associated benefit programs is prohibited by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990.
The Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1974 forbid the discrimination against individuals with disabilities by employers who have contracts that are over $2500. Also, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1999, prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Discrimination in various U. S. government agencies like the postal service based on religion, sex, color age, or national origin are covered under the the Executive Order 11478 of 1969. The immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, 1990 and 1996 forbid discrimination in employment based on national origin or citizenship (Katz & Wheeler, 2011; Mathis, & Jackson, 2008).
They have also established penalties against those who employ illegal aliens. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 requires that women who are pregnant, or have childbirth or other related medical complications are not discriminated in workplaces or during employment.