Being able to secure a satisfying and well, paying job is now very viable even for minority groups such women. There exists different laws and statutes’ that safeguard the wellbeing of minority groups starting with the equal pay act of 1963 down to the executive order of 19645. Both these acts have played a significant role in protecting employees from discrimination by their employers on specific basis such as colour, race and nationality. Minority persons like women can work in the same field as men and get the same pay as them or even higher but in this case; the employer will have to explain why a certain employee deserved such an increase. It is impossible to believe that the achievement of such tremendous steps have been without controversies and challenges. Ignorance on part of employers and employees is perhaps one of the key challenges that hinder the facilitation of discrimination policies enforced by federal agencies
In any working environment, there are bound to be disparities or discriminations against either the minority by the majority or vice versa. These discriminations are normally based on ones religion, sex, colour, and origin. This implies that one as a person who is being discriminated upon, may receive little payment as compared to other employees and or, may be delayed their salaries thus forcing them to accumulate huge expenses in terms of debts. Federal laws seek to protect individual employees from such discriminatory acts by their employers or just by other colleagues at work. Federal law against workplace discrimination are established by congress and become regulations thereby earning the title statues. Discrimination is a very bad practice that has recently been on the rise in many parts of the world. It is very possible for each and every person to relate to man instance when they were denied a job application or an interview (Tejeda, 2000).
It is usually a very hard thing to let go when one has all the right qualifications, but cannot seem to secure their desired job and in a particular place of their choice. It is no different, when one secures a particular job, but is paid little than other junior employees in the company simply because they are not of the same origin. It can be considered by a court of law, a violation of ones right as a civilian citizen. Discrimination is most prevalent in workplaces where people are most vulnerable to such vices. It should be noted that discrimination has very high prices to the economy in general as it denies the rightful people of the opportunity to exercise their skill in a particular area or field. In as much as the federal government has put in place measures and laws to protect against such individuals, there is still a lot to be done to capture the whole picture as the issue extends even in other aspects of ones life. The purpose of this paper is to fully accredit the existence of such laws and to show their progression from the equal pay act, to the executive order law.
Federal laws such as the equal pay act and the executive order were established with the aim of furthering the cause for equality in the workplace as well as reduce instances of discrimination when it came to wages of employees. This is because, it is possible to deduce that if one as an employer is of a particular origin and they happen to receive employees who are from a different origin, then they will treat them less humanely in terms of pay or workload than persons from their own origin. The equal pay act of 1963 which was accented to power by the then president, J.F Kennedy, sought to reduce the gap in terms of payment, necessitated by the differentiation or classification of gender. Thus women were unable apparently to earn more than men. But with the law in force, it was now able for women to earn just the same salary as men. This ensured equality and fairness, not to mention boosted the economy as women became more motivated (Kessler, 1990).
According to many advocates of equality and fairness in the workplace, women are the most prejudiced against of all sexes and they too, deserve a chance to become what men do not want them to be. Achieving the equal pay act was in itself a mile stone that indicated change of authority and governance spearheaded by President Kennedy. This resulted in the creation of many opportunities for women to explore without any fear of losing their job or salary. Considering the fact that salary measures a persons worth in society, it is important to realize that women’s salaries as from 1963, shot up spontaneously and closed in on what men earned during that time. Federal discriminations laws have their own importance other tan just regulating and speaking to citizens against prejudice. They provide a basis for one as an individual to file cases against any employer they find discriminative. This in my own point of view has enabled many to work without fear of losing their jobs because one does not like them as Muslims or Christians.
The Equal Pay Act
The equal pay act preceded Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which was enacted by congress in the year 1964, just a year latter. On would perhaps want to believe that the equal pay act actually protects against discrimination, which may be true, but subject to an argument. It was established by congress and signed into law buy president Kennedy and it sought to lower the wages for women so they could earn as much as men who were doing the same manual work as theirs. In as much as it protected the rights of women to have equal earnings from their male counterparts doing the same kind of work, the equal pay act did little in ensuring discrimination did not persist. This was latter tackled by another law; Title VII Civil Rights Act (Fogel, 1984).
Why was it necessary to have such a law in place?
As stated before, discrimination in the workplace is mostly prevalent on basis of ones gender or sex. In the years before 1963, many women were earning way less than men who did the same work they did. This according to many critics was not at all in line with the bill of rights stipulated in the declaration of independence. It was seen as prejudice against the weaker sex and served to degrade them in terms of development and other pertaining issues. Thus, the establishment of this particular law made it a lot easier for skilled women to become better marketable in their disciplines. According to many congressmen who participated in passing the bill through congress, such discrimination on basis of ones gender prevented the maximization of available labour and also served to depress the very health of those discriminated against bearing in mind that they needed a job to survive. Also, it was noted that apparently, competition became very unfair between employees and the fact that one of a superior gender could earn more than another from a weaker one, also deprived the market of the free flow of goods and services that were necessary for good commerce (Sealander, 1983).
For the equal pay act to be more efficient, there a number of provisions that must be met. These provisions mainly concern employers and not necessarily employers. One of these provisions is that; different wages must be paid to employees who are of the opposite sex, that for equal pay, employers must be able to outline the conditions of working for every job category and the level of skill required. Finlay, it should be known by the Supreme Court, that the jobs that have employees of the opposite sex are done in the same working condition. Violation of the above provisions of the equal pay act by any employer would attract legal action on their part by the state and the imposing of strict liability on them to cater for any arising damages as a result of job discrimination.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
The civil rights act of 1964 came immediately after the equal pay act of 1963. It was considered by many as the moist strict of all laws that prohibited ageist sex discrimination. It not only touched on gender discrimination especially that of black women in workplaces, but also provided for the outlawing of racial segregation and discrimination. It was indeed very effective as it ended discriminatory acts by employers in institutions that were in the public domain, such as schools and medical facilities. Through amendments made by congress, this particular law was able to have more power and effect in the furthering of equality among all citizens regardless of their religion, sex or colour disposition. The law was as a result of protests mainly from African American quarters who expressed agony on what they saw as discrimination due to race, of the ability to be served in public places such as restaurants. Once again, President Kennedy was the man behind its inception and he strongly advocated for free and fair treatment of all Americans. However, the bill was not without its fair share of controversy (Zelman, 1982). Republican Martha Griffith argued that the civil rights act would only seek to protect the right of black women and that that would be very unfair to the white women amounting just to discrimination.
Provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
The civil right act itself has about 11 titles that stipulate on several issues of discrimination. However, title VII is the most suitable if one is dealing with the discrimination against ones race in the workplace or by employers. This title seeks to prohibit employers from discriminating against their employees on basis of race, sex, colour, religion and nationality. It also further prohibits against the discrimination of individuals because of the fact that they associate themselves with individuals from another race or religion (Hewitt, 1975). But perhaps one of the most interesting of all provisions is the fact that one as an employer according to the act, cannot discriminate against an employer because of an interracial marriage or holy union. However, one as an employer can be allowed to discriminate against an employee on specific grounds (Belz, 1991).
One of these grounds is the bon a fide occupational qualification. The employer is required to establish a direct link between the type of discrimination say like colour, and the ability of the employee to not perform well on these grounds. The civil rights act provides a lot of flexibility to employees who happen to find themselves being discriminated against. For instance, it provides that an individual employee ahs the right to bring forth a private law suite against an employer. They must however, meet a few conditions in order for this to be facilitated. One is that they should file a complaint wit the equal employment opportunity commission within 180 days after they learn of their employer’s discrimination towards them. Failure to do this will result in the law suite becoming null and void. In latter years, the act has been amended to include the prohibition of sexual harassment by employers. The civil rights act has however one strict requirement of employers and that is; that it only applies to employers who have employer more than 15 employees and they must have worked for at least 20 weeks or more (Graham, 1990).
The Executive Order 11246
As did the previous acts and laws that preceded the Executive order 11246, it too sought to provide equal opportunity for every citizen in terms of employment. According to the order, contractors who do business well over 10, 000 dollars each year, are prohibited from discriminating against race, colour or gender. They are also required by the order, to take affirmative action to ensure that applicants for the different jobs available are employed and that they are treated without discrimination n on basis of their sex or religion. The order was signed by President Johnson in 1965 and it came second to another signed by President Eisenhower in 1953, which established the anti-discrimination committee on government contracts. From this order, came the term equal employment opportunity. Studies into the prevalence e of discrimination by contractors to their employees showed that minority groups especially the women were the most affected.
As a result of this, the provisions in the executive order were amended to reflect that employers or contractors were required to have at least a minimum of 50 employers in their corner. Also, it was a requirement that employees with contracts amounting to over 50, 000 dollars were subject to affirmative action and were required to ensure a fair representation of all races or gender in their workforce where it was found to be lacking. Lack of representation in this context has been used to indicate the lacking of minority groups such as women. Through affirmative action though, it is possible to eliminate such discrepancies in the workforce of any particular employer. According to the executive order, affirmative actions I represented as the availability of equal opportunities for each employee, the establishment by employers of reasonable timelines for increasing employment opportunities and the support for the community apart from setting up an internal audit and reporting farm at flexible intervals.
Impact of Federal Pay Discrimination Laws
It is possible for one to imagine how frustrating it was for one as a women or a black woman for that matter, to not have a comfortable relationship with your employer because of discriminative gestures from them. However, this all changed with the initializing of the equal pay act by President Kennedy. It served to ensure the full maximization of available labour and this facilitated the growth of not only commerce, but the economy in general as more input was capitalized on. Also it elevated the standard of living for many employees who found it very hard to otherwise cope with lie. Better and equal opportunity for jobs also ensured good and fair competition amongst employees. One of the major impacts of the federal, pay discrimination law enforcement is the success in terms of facilitating the ensuring accountability on part of the employers and contractors. The fact that some cases will require the imposing of strict liability to the employers makes it hard to flaunt or violate these laws and regulations.
Major Challenges in the Facilitation of Federal Pay Discrimination Law and Enforcement
America as it is known is still not recovered from many decades of slavery that promoted unfairness too many of the minority groups even native ones such as the Indians. Thus, there appears to be a very big challenge in changing the lifestyle of many I individuals who hold personal views pertaining the articulation of rules and regulations especially those that touch on women rights. It is also a challenge in the sense that it extends even into the political spectrum as politicians who are opposed to rights of the minorities tend to oppose crucial bills that provide the above. However, in as much as this might appear so, it has not been possible because although there is stiff opposition especially on personal levels, opposing politicians have not been able to shoot down such bill in congress (Burstein, 1998).
The question of illegal immigrants also brings into the picture a whole new twist to the matter. Is it possible as many arguer that one as an immigrant should be accorded priority for a certain job when a legal citizen suits and wait? Not many like to see it this way especially the minority groups, but it is a question and a challenge that if not solved, will continue to persist. The fact that since time immemorial, certain jobs have been defined or identified as belonging to a certain people of a particular religion or race, is also a challenge that dates back to many years ago. It is no wonder that many of the black population occupy the least desirable of all jobs in the United States (Ruchames, 1971).
Another challenge is the use of criminal background by federal law enforcement agencies to restrict work to colorized people (African Americans and Latinos). The current situation in many prisons is that of the issuance of bail or bonds for the release of criminal’s convicted of petty offenses. Many off these criminal are non-violent and are just your ordinary estate guys. They are however unable to raise the required money to buy their freedom and thus end up having criminal records that the police and FBI use in the denial of work for such individuals. It is very frustrating that one as a coloured person in the United States faces economic hardship only because of their colour. Currently there is no law that addresses criminal record discrimination and this is in itself a challenge as the fact of many non-violent persons who happen to have a criminal record is already predefined. One of the most appalling of all challenges is the fact that both the employers and the employees have very little knowledge about their rights and therefore are not bound to understand anything concerning new developments. As it is, mistakes are bound to happen due to ignorance which is very costly to the state and the economy as well.
In order to fully actualize the importance of these laws and acts on the main players (employers and employees), the federal law enforcement agencies should perhaps rethink their strategies of sensitizing both these groups of main players of their roles and their rights too. Culture being something that is learned and shared is very difficult to ears but it is possible with time. It should be noted that after the equal pay act of 1963, all persons considered to United States citizens, were eligible for equal opportunities in terms of acquiring employment. Bearing in mind that many of the employers or contractors are usually rogue, ten it will be advisable to place more stiffer penalties that will discourage the discrimination of minority groups across wider scales not only wages. Violation of employer’s right such as the non-remittance of overtime pay and the overload of work should be treated with utmost decisiveness (Levine, 2004).
In the case of women as in the discrimination against the opposite sex, it should be noted that the fight is not yet won even with the actualizing of a political campaign promise by current President Obama. You will agree with me when I say that though equality should be upheld in any working environment, it is not easy for one as an employer to overlook the fact that there are some other employees doing the same job but on another level. Therefore, I believe that an employer has the right to increase the earnings of hardworking persons which to me sounds fair. It should not be generalized in terms of the job type and category, sex or race, but it should be on grounds of ones merit as an employee. Immigrant workers should not be allowed the same opportunity as that allocate to legal citizens until they achieve full citizenship. It is important to classify that legal citizens should not suffer unless they are declared unfit for the job. However, I am not in any way insinuating that the application and selection process should be conducted unfairly with the motive to discriminate against such individuals.
As stated earlier, any form of discrimination usually impacts negatively on the society and country at large. Labour is one of the commodities that are hard to come by and the fact that it is readily available from particular individuals, should not be the question. The question in this case would be if those said individuals are qualified enough to undertake a certain job. The fact that labour laws applied in the US are not of international standards is one of the things that complicate the fight against discrimination in the workplace. It is impossible for one as an individual to imagine that discrimination will completely be eradicated. There exists a lot of other forms of discrimination that if put together, will have the effect of making life even more hard for employees. Understanding your rights as an employee is perhaps one of the first steps one should be is of immediately after taking up a certain particular job. This will better enable one decide whether or not they are really needed in such a company.
One of the things that have been blamed on the advent of discrimination is culture. It cannot be eroded that easily but it can be learned by individuals and shared to create a more perfect understanding of governing rules, policies and regulations. The above mentioned tree acts of law by congress are a sure way to ensure the protection of every citizen who wishes to take up work. It may sound very unfair if the laws did not provide for the cushioning of employers against any eventuality that they are not responsible for. I would say that the progression from one law to another has been swiftly incorporated with other supporting statues that add weight to the initial ones. Thus, applying for a job in the United States of America though not fully inclusive of equality, is almost very fair in the recruitment of employments due to the stiffer penalties that are imposed in case of a violation.