invidious or morally reprehensible attitude. This morally chargednotion of “invidious” discrimination, as it applies toemployment, is what is at issue in this chapter. In this sense todiscriminate in employment is to make an ad-verse decision (orset of decisions) against employees (or prospective em-ployees) who belong to a certain class because of morally unjustifiedprejudice toward members of that class.Discrimination in employment thus, must involve three basicelements. First, it is a decision against one or more employees(or prospective employees) that is not based on individual meritsuch as the ability to perform a given job, seniority, or othermorally legiti-mate qualifications. Second, the decision derivessolely or in part from racial or sexual prejudice, from falsestereotypes, or from some other kind of morally unjustifiedattitude against members of the class to which the em-ployeebelongs. Third, the decision (or set of decisions) has a harmful orneg-ative impact on the interests of the employees, perhapscosting them jobs, promotions, or better pay.
Forms of Discrimination: Intentional and
A helpful framework for analyzing different forms of discrimi-nation can be constructed by distinguishing the extent to which adiscriminatory act is in-tentional and isolated (or non institu-tionalized) and the extent to which it is un-intentional andinstitutionalized
1. Isolated and Intentional Discrimination
A discriminatory act may be part of the isolated (noninstitutionalized) behavior of a single individual whointentionally and knowingly discriminates out of personalprejudice. In the ABC “experi-ment” described, for example,the attitudes that the male interviewer is de-scribed as having may not be characteristic of other company interviewers: Hisbehavior toward female job seekers may be an intentionalbut isolated instance of sexism in hiring.
2. Institutionalized and Intentional Discrimination
Second,a discriminatory act may be part of the routine behavior of aninstitutionalized group, which intentionally and knowingly dis-criminates out of the personal prejudices of its members. The Ku Klux Klan, for example, is an organization thathistorically has intentionally institutional-ized discriminatory behavior, and, in India, for example, TheMuthut Finance group prefers Keralites for any post in theircompany.
3. Isolated and Unintentional Discrimination
Third, an act of discrimination may be part of the isolated(non institutionalized) behavior of a single individual whounin-tentionally and unknowingly discriminates againstsomeone because he or she unthinkingly adopts the traditionalpractices and stereotypes of his or her so-ciety. If theinterviewer quoted in the ABC experiment described, forexample, acted unintentionally, then he would fall into thisthird category.
4. Institutionalized and Unintentional discrimination
Fourth, a dis-criminatory act may be part of the systematicroutine of a corporate organiza-tion or group thatunintentionally incorporates into its formal institutionalizedprocedures practices that discriminate against women orminorities. The two companies examined in the ABC;experiment, for example, described organi-zations in whichthe best-paying jobs are routinely assigned to men and the worst-paying jobs are routinely assigned to women, on thestereotypical as-sumption that women are fit for some jobsand not for others. There may be no deliberate intent todiscriminate, but the effect is the same: a racially or sex-ually based pattern of preference toward white males.Historically, there has been a shift in emphasis from seeing discrimina-tion primarily as an intentional and individual matter,to seeing it as a sys-tematic and not necessarily inten- tionalfeature of institutionalized corporate behavior, and back again,in some quarters, to seeing it as an intentional and individualmatter. During the early 1960s, employment discrimination wasseen primarily as an intentional, calculated act performed by oneindividual on another. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,for example, seems to have had this notion of discrimination inmind when it stated:It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer1. To fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, orotherwise discriminate against any in-dividual with respect tohis compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of em-ployment because of such individual’s race, color, religion,sex, or national origin; or2. To limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants forem-ployment in any way that would deprive or tend todeprive any individual of employment opportunities orotherwise adversely affect his status as an em-ployee becauseof such individual’s race, color, sex, or national originHowever, in the late 1960s, the concept of discrimination wasenlarged to in-clude more than the traditionally recognizedintentional forms of individual discrimination. By the early 1970, the term “discrimination” was being used regularly toinclude disparities of minority representation within the ranksof a firm, regardless of whether or not the disparity had beenintentionally cre-ated. An organization was engaged in discrimi-nation if minority group repre-sentation within its ranks wasnot proportionate to the group’s local availability. The discrimi-nation would be remedied when the proportions of minorities within the organization were made to match their proportionsin the available workforce by the use of “affirmative action”programs.
Racism refers to the prejudice that members of one race areintrinsically superior to members of other races.
Discrimination (employment) is the wrongful act of distinguishing illicitly among people not on the basis of individual merit but on the basis of prejudice or some otherinvidious or morally reprehensible attitude.
Discuss in general the qualities that make a person suitable for ajob. Why do you think we see job discrimination?