Discrimination And Harassment

Discrimination and harassment are serious problems in the workplace today. People are discriminated against and harassed about their sex, religion, race, weight, handicap, etc. For me, these issues are very unethical, and that’s all there is to it. Really, what does a person or a business gain from committing these selfish acts towards others? I guess a laugh here and there from people listening in on the harassment of a co-worker. I personally don’t see what anyone can gain from any of this and surely there is not one company out there who could gain anything from these two issues. Although, I do see where a company could lose a lot of money and also ruin the good reputation they once had.

A good issue to look at for discrimination is the Lilly Ledbetter case. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is named after a 70 year old woman, who worked for Goodyear Tire Company and was paid far less than her male co-workers for doing the same job day in and day out (Pickert 2009). She also experienced sexual harassment many times during her employment with Goodyear Tire. At one time she was asked by her boss for sexual favors of some sort in return for good job performance evaluations (Pickert 2009). When it came to Lilly’s attention that she was being paid around $1,000.00 less than her male co-workers’ she filed a complaint with the EEOC. Shortly after this Lilly was put on a job to lift heavy tires, which she personally felt was retribution (Pickert 2009).

Ledbetter sued Goodyear, who said they paid her less than her male co-workers’ because she was not a good worker! Ledbetter fought and won the case being awarded $3.3 million. Only to have it reduced to around $300,000.00 by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court also voted 5-4 against Ledbetter, that she was not entitled the compensation because she filed her claim more than 180 days after receiving her first discriminating paycheck (Pickert 2009).

The court then sent stated that this was an issue for Congress to “clear up”. Clear up is just what Congress did. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first piece of legislation that President Obama signed into law after taking Office. This law states that workers discriminated on the basis of gender have a fair chance to sue their employer, and that each discriminated pay check, a person has 180 days to file suit (Pickert 2009). Not only after the first check.

One issue that I’ve chose to write about in dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace is one that is personal. It happened numerous times to my wife Monique at work in the R.V. facility she worked for. (I will not mention a company name, although it is now public knowledge). Monique had worked for the company for several months and had been dealing with sexual harassment for a couple of those months. It had started with simple little phrases from the plant manger to my wife. Monique is a very fun and outgoing person who can take a “joke” or a remark as long as it doesn’t get out of hand and personal. She not once said anything back to (this also married man) her boss after a comment and did not complain for fear of being fired by him had she spoke to H.R. or the owner.

The plant manager got physical with his sexual harassment one day and Monique told him that that was enough and he had better never do that again. When she came home from work and told me what had happened I immediately called the company and complained on her behalf, because she was not going to for fear of losing her job or being treated different at work. I told the owner that if the situation was handled properly that we would leave the issue alone. Nothing was done or said to this man about what had happened! It was not a week later and another incident occurs. Again, I called to her work about it. To make a long story short. My wife ended up quitting work for the company after being treated much differently than she had being coming forward. And not to mention a lot her co-workers’ somehow found out what had happened to her. Her boss was fired after the company found out we had obtained an attorney and had filed suit against them for sexual harassment. The company settled the case for a good price out of their pocket and admitted to the wrong-doing on their behalf.

There is no room for harassment of this, or any sort in the work place. All that this does is distort it and make women/men afraid to go into a job where they are outnumbered by the opposite sex in fear of this. No one wants to go into a job and be harassed. Whether it is little verbal comments or the bad physical rubs, pats, smacks, etc… When this happens we feel like we cannot say anything for fear of losing our job, or even simply that no one will believe us.

Sexual harassment cases filed with the EEOC and the state and local Fair Employment Practices agencies around the country that have a work sharing agreement with the commission have declined slowly since 1997. From 1997 to 2007 the total number of cases is as follows and in order from 1997-2007: 15,889, 15,618, 15,222, 15,836 (an incline from 1999 to 2000), 15,475, 14,396, 13,566, 13,136, 12,679, 12,025, and anther incline from 2006 to 2007 to 12,510 (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 2008). By looking at these statistics I would say that sexual harassment is calming down a small fraction each year in the work place. It is far from where I feel it should be; and that is zero cases frilled each year.

I believe that in Kantianism that this would be understood this as in no way doing the right thing and only for that reason. A Kantian would see no way that any action stated above would bring them, or anyone else true happiness at anytime. A Kantian would have nothing to gain in any way from these actions. Kantians use themselves as a guide to their actions. They know that they cannot and will not gain a single ounce of good from these actions. A Kantian would not consider sexual harassment or discrimination in or out of the work place. Kantians have a duty to do only what is morally right.

As to the question of are there any areas of discrimination in the workforce that I believe are legitimate? My answer to this would be- absolutely not. There is nothing moral to me about discrimination or harassment. Not one thing good can come from this. Someone will always get hurt. If it is the person being harassed or discriminated against, the person doing the acts, or the company that all the individuals are employed by. Not one person will gain any real happiness or sense of well being from this. These acts are just immoral in my book.

Pickert, K. (2009, January 29). Lilly Ledbetter. Time. Retrieved March 9, 2009, from Http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1874954,00.html
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2008). Sexual Harassment Charges EEOC & FEPAs Combined: FY 1997- FY 2007 (Publication number unavailable) Retrieved March 9 2009, from http://www.eeoc.gov/stats/harass.html