Discrimination in the Workplace Essay
I. Introduction Seaquist (2012) clearly states in the text ‘Business Law for Managers’ that nothing in the Constitution explicitly mentions discrimination, but it contains provisions that have been interpreted by the U. S. Supreme Court to grant rights that have to do with equal treatment under the law (Seaquist, 2012). According to Seaquist (2012) Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was enacted to remedy segregation and to outlaw discrimination of the underrepresented monitories in this country (Seaquist, 2012).
Regardless to the enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, discrimination still runs rapid in today’s society.
While discrimination may not as it was in the late 1950s and 1960s with its bold and ugly face, it still exists today in a more subtle unnoticeable manner. How can discrimination still exist in a country that is so rich in culture, when this country has supposedly worked hard to rid all types of discrimination? No one can really answer this question without stepping on others beliefs and values.
Yet, as an African American born in America, raised in the South, educated in the South and across the internet this author contents that discrimination in the work exist more today in more subtle ways than ever before. This author argues that discrimination still exist in society today, especially in the workplace and especially by those in higher positions. Due to the feelings of this author regarding discrimination is the reason for this paper, and is the reason why this paper will discuss the types of discrimination, the history of discrimination, the theories of discrimination, the legal, and the ethical responsibility of discrimination.
II. Defining Discrimination From US Legal, Inc (2013) the definition of discrimination is nothing more than making a distinction for or against a person or thing based on group, class, or category to which a person or thing belongs to (US Legal, Inc. , 2013). Here US Legal, Inc. (2013) points out how discrimination can be the effect of some law or practice that bestow privileges on a certain class or denies privileges on a certain class because of race, age, sex, nationality, religion, or handicap (US Legal, Inc. , 2013). Unlike US Legal, Inc. , Business Dictionary. com defines discrimination as the bias or prejudice resulting in denial of opportunity or unfair treatment regarding selection, promotion, or transfer; is practiced commonly on the grounds of age, disability, ethnicity, origin, political belief, race, religion, sex, etc. factors which are irrelevant to a person’s competence or suitability; unequal treatment, provided to one or more parties on the basis of a mutual accord or some other logical or illogical reason; and last, the differences in two rates not explainable or justifiable by economic consideration such as cost (Business Dictionary. com, n. d).
Still, in the article ‘Rescuing the Concept of Discrimination’ by Crawford (2001) it claims that there are eight ways to define discrimination; beginning with (1) descriptive discrimination which is any different or unequal treatment and it describes what the speaker has in mind- (2) judgmental discrimination is any different or unequal treatment that is unjust, using this word, the speaker expresses his judgment that the action is wrong-(3) adverse discrimination is any different or unequal treatment, only when it is adverse; accordingly when not adverse, different or unequal treatment is not discrimination and assumes that unequal treatment can be favorable to one person without being unfavorable to another- (4) prejudice discrimination is any different or unequal treatment that is motivated by prejudice and has the advantage of freeing different treatment from the label of discrimination when it is prompted by a desire to promote the general welfare- (5) illegality discrimination is different or unequal treatment that is unlawful and can point to regulations, laws, or court decisions that arguably legalize unequal treatment based on race in the circumstances in which they practice it- (6) ideological discrimination is any different or unequal treatment that operate against people based on their membership in an oppressed, disadvantaged or underrepresented group- (7) dictionary definition of discrimination is any different or unequal treatment on a basis that disregards individual merit- and (8) proposed discrimination is any different or unequal treatment on a basis the speaker presumes to be ordinarily unjust (Crawford, 2001). Regardless to how discrimination broken down as or how it is being disguised, it all boils down to being unlawful acts of mistreatment of another person or group of people based on age, disability, ethnicity, origin, political belief, race, religion, or sex. III. Discrimination in the Workplace Types of discrimination In the text ‘Business Law for Managers’ by Seaquist (2012) it discusses the different types of discrimination and lists the types as: race, color, sex, sexual harassment religion and national origin (Seaquist, 2012).
Crawford (2001) provided us with only eight different types of definitions defining discrimination that can easily be attached to any one of the types of discrimination that Seaquist (2012) lists in his discussion. As Crawford (2001) describes and discusses eight different types of definitions defining discrimination, in everyday life people seldom see or even experience many of these discriminating acts that Crawford talks about in his article. The everyday person who does experience discrimination, experience the type of discrimination that is defined by US Legal, Inc. (2013), Business Dictionary. com (n. d), and discussed by Seaquist (2012).
Because everyday people experience the type of discrimination that US Legal, Inc. (2013), Business Dictionary. com (n. d), and Seaquist (2012) defines and describes, this section will only focused on two specific forms of discrimination which is gender and racial as it is the most offensive for this author. Gender discrimination Let us look at gender discrimination and defined as well as illustrate how gender discrimination often occur in more subtle ways in the workplace. According to US Legal, Inc. , gender discrimination is any action that specifically denies opportunities, privileges, or rewards to a person or a group because of gender (US Legal, Inc. , 2013) Although, Gender Discrimination – Further Readings (n.
d) also defines gender discrimination as the unequal treatment of a person based solely on that person’s sex (Gender Discrimination-Further Readings, n. d). For example, a recent opening in management occurs at Murdoch Developmental Center. A white male and black female applicant in the organization applied for this position, both had the same amount of education, but the white male had little qualifications in experience than the female; the black female has both education and several years of experience working with this type of cliental. Yet, the white male was offered the position over the black female who was more qualified and could assume all the responsibilities of the job.
It was rumor that the reason the white male was promoted over the black female was because the unit in which management was needed was an all male unit and the unit would probably do better with a male leader than a female leader. Yet, according to Cornell University ILR School (2001), there has been progress, but gender discrimination is a widespread problem (Cornell University ILR School, 2001). However, Khosrovani and Ward (2011) argues that between 1940 and 1980 African American women made great progress and were nearing the status of white women, but today more black women are in subordinate status position with lower pay (Khosrovani & Ward, 2011). On the contrary, Kamery (2004) refers to gender discrimination through Bunton (1998) definition as preferential behavior because of one’s gender (Kamery, 2004).
Kamery (2004) discusses the wage gap between genders and how Bunton (1998) credits the industrial revolution as a significant step toward the improvement for women in the workforce as the regulations that were established were designed to protect women in the labor market, but it had a long-running negative effect on women’s equality (Kamery, 2004). The article described how colleges and universities excluded women from teaching and administrative occupations and even when and if they were allowed into certain occupations they limited to low pay level entry and low status positions (Kamery, 2004). As most people believed as Bunton (1998) explained in this article that the physical differences between men and women were a conditioning of society and most believed that a woman’s place was in the home and not in the workforce (Kamery, 2004). Racial discrimination
Racial discrimination can be defined as the practice of letting a person’s race or skin color unfairly become a factor when deciding who receives a job, promotion, or other employment benefit (US Legal, Inc. , 2013). Cornell University ILR School (2001) asserts that racial discrimination persists in all parts of the Americas and ethnic minorities and migrant workers are mainly effected worsening poverty and making poverty last longer (Cornell University ILR School, 2001). Unlike Heather, Kevin, and Jitendra (2013) who provides readers with statics from the U. S. Department (2009) about the current national unemployment rate of 10. 2% and states that the economic recession claims that employment discrimination is up (Heather, Kevin, & Jitendra, 2013).
Further in the article by Heather, Kevin, and Jitendra (2013) it provides readers with a definition for discrimination that comes from Webster’s Online Dictionary, stating that discrimination is a biased decision based on a prejudice against an individual group characterized by race, class, sexual orientation, age, disabilities and so forth (Heather, Kevin, & Jitendra, 2013). Although, Khosrovani and Ward (2010) claims that data indicate that the majority if African American employees were not promoted to higher levels in their companies, less than sixty percent believed that female employees had a better chance of advancement, and most African Americans do not believe that they receive equal opportunities from their employers in the areas of advance job training, mentoring, and promotions (Khosrovani & Ward, 2011). On the other hand, Shih-Hsueh and Kleiner (1998) asserts that in places of limited employment racial conflict is more intense (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998).
Shih-Hsueh and Kleiner (1998) contends that in the United States discrimination in employment is damaging and ethnic discrimination in the United States is closely related to the historic patterns of immigration and migration (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998). In fact, Shih-Hsueh and Kleiner (1998) states that black workers are more closely watched than white workers not because of the characteristics of the job but because they are black; black workers systematically discriminated against in access to jobs, but they are better qualified for their job than the white workers that are working next to them; and blacks work in jobs where the majority of their co-workers are white which makes for profound racism and is looked upon as token representatives (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998).
Last, Shih-Hsueh and Kleiner (1998) ends with the describing the subtle racism in the labour process and the interactional patterns that arise in the workplace which generates discrimination, and all the while the social acts of everyday life signifies the super ordinance of white status reminding black workers that they are in a white environment (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998). For example, on my job there are more whites in upper management and more blacks in the lower levels of the organization. Black staffs have been watched more closely and corrected more times than their white counterparts. Black employees are more likely to be reprimand than their white counterpart, and blacks receive fewer promotions or recognition for a job well done than their white counterpart.
This example is also supported by Shih-Hsueh and Kleiner (1998) article ‘Race Discrimination in the Workplace’ which states… “When educated black American competes successfully for upper middle- class jobs, they represent a demographically small, although highly visible, threat to middle- class white males (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998). ” IV. History Yuan and Kleiner (1998) discusses in the article ‘How to Investigate and Prove Racial Discrimination’ how discrimination is universal and racial issues are not exclusively confined to internal affairs of any state but to all in one way or another, affecting the peace and security of us all (Yuan & Kleiner, 1998).
Yuan and Kleiner (1998) tells of racial differences that had been established as symbols of superiority-inferiority and used as weapons in particular group conflicts such as the sixteenth century when this pattern was focused upon a particular race with brutality, and was the most inhuman aspect of European history (Yuan & Kleiner, 1998). Furthermore, Yuan and Kleiner (1998) asserts that the slavery that the African population was subjected to in America was the most inhuman case of racial discrimination, and even the abolition of slavery did not end discrimination, it just made the freed slaves continue to belong to the lowest stratum of society (Yuan & Kleiner, 1998).
Yet, in the article ‘Only One Place of Redress: African Americans, Labor Regulations, and the Courts from Reconstruction to the New Deal’ by Bernstein and Lichtenstein (2002), readers can see that discrimination existed and was noted as far back as the 1870s (Bernstein & Lichtenstein, 2002). Still, Shih-Hsueh and Kleiner (1998) asserts that the history of the working class in the south is a history of poor whites that were often manipulated by economic elites fighting to exclude poor blacks from economic opportunities (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998). According to Shih-Hsueh and Kleiner (1998) the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s won the passage in legislation as the affirmative action was design to help correct past discrimination acts (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998). It was through the use of affirmative action
that increased employment opportunities for women and ethnic minorities, and it was through affirmative action plans that established racial quotas that were declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1978 (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998). Also in this article it claimed that a study was conducted by Donald Tomaskovic-Devey who focused on the aspect of the labour process, in areas of wages and access to on the job training (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998). While the findings were not so obvious in this area it was found in less obvious aspects of the labour process such as the intensity of supervision and the degree to one’s work opposed to manager controlled (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998).
There was evidence of direct racial discrimination that did not tie to the skill level or racial composition of the job (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998). As Skrentny (2007) argues that open discrimination against blacks in the south meant few saw it as a significant problem because Title VII did not define discrimination; section 703(a) simply said that it was unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin (Skrentny, 2007).
This too, supports this author’s argument that discrimination is often in subtle forms making it not that noticeable by those that are not affected by it. Causes of Discrimination Yuan and Kleiner (1998) seen to think that prejudice is the reason for discrimination, especially racial discrimination (Yuan & Kleiner, 1998). According to Yuan and Kleiner (1998) racism is a strong cause of prejudice and racial discrimination (Yuan & Kleiner, 1998). “Racism is said to be based on “prejudices”, which constitute judgments made in the absence of evidence, and “stereotypes”, which are grossly misleading generalizations about groups (Yuan & Kleiner, 1998).
” An example of stereotyping, an owner of a restaurant who is white has been raised to think that Asian people are more reliable, and very good in math; and African Americans (blacks) are lazy and will steal anything and everything that they get their hands on. The restaurant owner places a sign in the window advertizing a part-time waitress position, an African American and an Asian American apply and is interviewed for a part-time waitress position in a restaurant. The African American has five years of experience as a waitress with a bachelor’s degree; the Asian American has two years experience with a high school diploma. The owner thinks about what he has been taught about Asian people and offers the Asian American the position because the owner thinks that the Asian American is better in math, and is a harder worker as he thinks of the African American as lazy and unreliable.
As Yuan and Kleiner (1998) article place emphasis on psychologists and their views, maintaining that part of prejudice which people entertain is due to frustration and unhappiness (Yuan & Kleiner, 1998). When people fail to understand the cause for their frustrations or recognize their inability to prevent their frustrations they tend to search for scapegoats so that they might project their anger, hatred, fear, and disillusionment (Yuan & Kleiner, 1998). Yuan and Kleiner (1998) referred to a study that was conducted by a person name Horowitz who believes in some countries where racism prevalent that prejudice is natural and inborn in people (Yuan & Kleiner, 1998).
In Horowitz observation he noted that very young black and white children played freely with each other, without being aware of differences, but later the white children were compelled to stay away from the black playmates under threat of punishment as one of the most frequent causes for getting a whipping was due to playing with a black child (Yuan & Kleiner, 1998). Although Horowitz’s findings do not provide readers with evidence that such factors cause prejudice and discrimination, and frustration does not always lead to aggression and hostility, Yuan and Kleiner (1998) does conclude that this may make one more susceptible to prejudice; factors such as economics may intensify or lessen prejudice (Yuan & Kleiner, 1998). Combating Discrimination According to Shih-Hsueh and Kleiner (1998) the efforts to combat racial discrimination and racism took place in post- World War II history as the civil rights movement of the 1950s developed (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998).
Further, Shih-Hsueh and Kleiner (1998) propose that the United States government combated discrimination in the areas of hiring and promotions by using equal opportunity and affirmative action laws and policies (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998). Thus, labor laws were established to equalize the bargaining power between the employers and the employees; these labor laws grant employees the right to unionize as it also allows the employers and the employees to participate in activities such as strikes and picketing (Cornell University Law School, n. d). Cornell University Law School (n. d) article reports that labor law is governed by federal law, state law and judicial decisions, and is also governed by regulations and decisions of administrative agencies (Cornell University Law School, n. d).
Even so, Topping (2009) article asserts that white racism had not only divided the labor movement but it was institutionalized within the extent the racist practices were proven difficult to exorcise (Topping, 2009). Topping (2009) further asserts that the central idea was that the Wagner Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act was designed for different purposes, but made other societal problems worse (Topping, 2009). Yet, Skrentny (2007) argues that the primary goal for the establishment and implementation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was to create equal opportunities for African Americans by ending Jim Crow discrimination in the south (Skrentny, 2007). Moreover, this article suggests that sociological evidence indicates that U. S.
businesses engaged in race-conscious employment and focused on the perceived value of racial skills and racial symbolism; as businesses hired Asians and Latinos because of the perceived racial skills of these groups at low-status jobs that require strong work ethics and obedient attitudes (Skrentny, 2007). Further, Skrentny (2007) asserts that corporate employers seeking skilled worker did not necessarily prefer immigrants, but they reached for the symbolic values of diversity, but for their general racial skills at bringing new ideas to the workplace, and for their racial marketing skills for growing non-white markets (Skrentny, 2007). V. Theories Profeminist theories
In an article written by Zwiech (2010) lists a number of concepts developed to account for discrimination against women in professional life (Zwiech, 2010). Such as the theorist Lenski, who according to Zwiech (2010), treats women as a separate social class and believes that people perceive family as a group of individuals and not a unit within the stratification system (Zwiech, 2010). In this article it asserts that Lenski’s theory it states that privilege depend on power and power depend on resources; he thinks that women’s resources are limited compared to men’s resources, because women’s resources are limited in power so are their privileges (Zwiech, 2010).
While Zwiech (2010) describes Lenski’s theory, Zwiech describes another theorist perspective of class formation which was developed by Parkin (Zwiech, 2010). In Parkin’s theory, Parkin is against gender inequality of class structure; Parkin believes that gender could be treated as a factor determining the stratification if women’s disadvantage are greater than class distinction (Zwiech, 2010). Moreover, Parkin’s theory stresses that discrimination against women in the labour market results from male employees’ interest and the distribution of female employees, family roles that they perform, and household duties that they are charged with (Zwiech, 2010). Still, there is theorist Parsons who Zwiech (2010) describes in this article (Zwiech, 2010).
This theory that is formulated by Parsons examines discrimination of women from the functional perspective and argues that family is a solidarity unit and husband and wife need to have equal status for the sake of solidarity; and the main factor determining discrimination against women are family and household duties which lessen employment opportunities and leads to occupational segregation by gender (Zwiech, 2010). The last theorist that Zwiech (2010) describes in this article is Acker (Zwiech, 2010). Acker refers to socio-cultural sex or gender, which socially construe notions of femininity and masculinity based on beliefs and stereotypes about difference between men and women (Zwiech, 2010). Acker’s theory argues that wages and salaries depend on gender due to the beliefs about the differences between men and women, as well as the division of economy sectors, the profession, and the workplaces goes hand in hand with pay inequality, even with social security benefits there are inequality in pay (Zwiech, 2010). Conflict theory
As Zwiech (2010) provided readers with three different views of three different theorists, Zwiech (2009) offers readers additional insight of two more theorists, Turner and Musick (Zwiech, 2009). In this article Zwiech (2009) identifies some of the reasons behind discrimination against women and inequality between the sexes which one thought is that this division is enhanced by cultural beliefs from the age of hunting and gathering (Zwiech, 2009). Turner and Musick seen to think that disproportionately greater power, wealth, and prestige were enjoyed and are still enjoyed more by men in comparison to women; this is why some people are discriminated against as they are competitors in the labour market and accept lower pay than those received by dominating population (Zwiech, 2009).
Addition to this thought, Turner and Musick believe that men may feel threaten by women as women constitute at least a half of the population and demanding equal rights would make men give up some of their privileges (Zwiech, 2009). Last, Turner and Musick imply that there is conflict when men and women do not agree with the cultural, political, and economic beliefs of society (Zwiech, 2009). VI. Legal Responsibility It were members of the legislation and members of Congress who established, created, and implemented U. S. employment discrimination laws to protect minorities who were discriminated against by white employers across the United States. Laws were established and enforced such as the 1913 Organic Act creating the U. S.
Department of Labor, the 1938 Fair Labor Standard Act Codifies 40 Hour Workweek, the 1963 Equal Pay Act, and 1964 Title VII of the Civil Rights Act just to name a few (The U. S. Department of Labor Historical Timeline, n. d). Whereas, in the article ‘Equal Employment Responsibilities of Multinational Corporations’ written by Feltes, Robinson, and Fink (1992) which disclose to readers that until the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1991 U. S. corporations had no legal responsibility to follow the anti-discrimination tents of Title VII in foreign plants, but now these corporations can be sued by its disgruntled employees (Feltes, Robinson, & Fink, 1992).
Readers of this article can see that despite whether discrimination takes place here in the United States or abroad in one of the U. S. foreign corporations there are laws in place to protect the vulnerable. At the same time, in 1991 a bipartisan of coalition in Congress negotiated the Civil Rights Act, reaffirming and strengthening the protection for minorities (Shih-Hsueh & Kleiner, 1998). Although, Kendrick (2012) conclude that for forty years, the prohibition on content discrimination has been a touchstone of the First Amendment law, while some believe that the merits of a content-discrimination principle has been unprincipled, unpredictable and deeply incoherent (Kendrick, 2012).
Kendrick (2012) contends that the types of discrimination are suspect and the Court’s content jurisprudence sends a clear message in an ambiguous way as discrimination on the basis of subject matter and viewpoint is obviously suspect, and given the ambiguities inherent in the content discrimination the Court’s conception is hardly incontestable (Kendrick, 2012). VII. Ethical Responsibility Congressional stance regarding equal rights has been supported by the United States public democratic institutions, the legal status of the Civil Rights Act (including Title VII) has been reaffirm due to numerous court hearings and Congressional discussions as the continuing reaffirmation assume societal standards (Feltes, Robinson,& Fink, 1992). Feltes, Robinson, and Fink (1992) describes several accords that were described by William C.
Frederick as researcher, revealing four provisions, (1) the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that addresses equality of pay, nondiscriminatory employment policies, and the rights of individuals, (2) the Helsinki Final Act of 1973 that addresses nondiscriminatory employment policies and rights of individuals, (3) the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in 1976 that addresses nondiscriminatory employment policies, and (4) the International Labor Office Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy in 1977 that focused on equality of pay, nondiscriminatory employment policies, and rights of individuals (Feltes, Robinson,& Fink, 1992). VIII. Conclusion For many years it has been said by many people that the United States has been and still is a land of immigrants; racial, ethnic, and immigrant backgrounds have been and continue to be of great significant.
The only difference in today’s society and those of the past is the large body of laws, regulations, and court decisions intended to bring equal opportunity to the workplace, fair wages, safety, and rights for collective bargaining (Skrentny, 2007). Still, discrimination exists more today than in years ago, as discrimination today is more subtle and less obvious, it does not have its bold ugly face as it did in the early 1950s and 1960s. Discrimination and inequalities still exist in today’s society as before and while there are laws that are suppose to protect those who are the underrepresented there are still ethnic minorities who are more affected by this ugly monster name discrimination.
It is noted in Khosrovani and Ward (2011) article ‘AFRICAN AMERICANS’ PERCEPTIONS OF ACCESS TO WORKPLACE OPPORTUNITIES: A SURVEY OF EMPLOYEES IN HOUSTON, TEXAS’ that discrimination and inequalities impact gender and race in the workplace (Khosrovani & Ward, 2011). Literature about women’s inequalities between 1940 and 1989 showed how African American women may have made great progress nearing the gap of their white counterparts, but today African American women are finding themselves in subordinate status positions making lower pay (Khosrovani & Ward, 2011). As there are many theories why discrimination exist no one really knows for sure why, as there are some scholars who seen to think that economics contribute to prejudice and discrimination others view it as in born and cultural acquired practices. Yuan and Kleiner (1998) stated that while… “The U. S.
Constitution and Civil Rights Act of 1964 were established to protect everyone from discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, color, or religion; but in reality people have to speak out to insure that justice is served (Khosrovani & Ward, 2011). References Business Dictionary. com. , (n. d) Retrieved from http://www. businessdictionary. com/definition/discrimination. html#examples Cornell University ILR School (2001). Discrimination at work: the Americas http://digitalcommons. ilr. cornell. edu/nondiscrim Cornell University Law School (n. d). Legal Information Institute. Retrieved from http://www. law. cornell. edu/wex/labor Crawford, C. (2001). Rescuing the Concept of Discrimination. Academic Questions, 14(3), 47. Feltes, P. , Robinson, R. K. , & Fink, R. L. (1992). Equal employment responsibilities of multinational corporations. Business Forum, 17(3), 18.
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