Discrimination

Discrimination laws, rules, and compliance issues are an important part of modern employment law. Find out about HR practices to avoid discriminating, and articles and advice for navigating legal issues relating to employment.

Being discriminating and being guilty of discrimination are not only two different things; they are also diametrically opposite. Being able to discriminate between one fine wine and another means being able to exercise sound judgment and to detect objective and important differences and similarities between them. On the other hand, being guilty of discrimination means being unable or unwilling to do that.

Someone who discriminates against, rather than between, two people or groups either fails to detect objective differences or similarities between individuals and within or between groups, or groundlessly ascribes to these differences and similarities consequences they do not really possess.

If one were to discriminate against a fine wine, rather than discriminate between two fine wines, objective similarities between that fine wine and another kind would be ignored, minimized or dismissed, while the consequences of any differences would be greatly exaggerated, if not purely imaginary.

In reviewing anti-discrimination laws, law suits and instances of discrimination, it is important to note and respect the difference between fair discrimination between and unfair discrimination against anyone or anything.
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"Discrimination" means treating a person/community or group in a prejudiced fashion owing to race, color, nationality or ethnic origin, age , sex or any trait whatsoever, including being left-handed or very short. Treating anyone or any group unfairly and disadvantageously owing to such factors is called "discrimination".

Race, color and national origin-these three grounds are interrelated. Although it is often difficult to draw clear distinctions among them, any discrimination based on these factors is categorized as "racism".

Individuals at any point along the age spectrum are potential victims of discrimination as a result of negative stereotyping about the young, the old and the in-between, including those who are victims of reverse ageism, e.g., a 30-something job applicant discriminated against by a much older female manager on the basis of their age difference.

"Sexism", which refers to any discrimination based on being male or female, is known as "sex discrimination". Discrimination related to pregnancy or child-birth can also be considered to be discrimination on the basis of sex, although only derivatively as gender-linked conditions.

As individuals we may have prejudices or preferences regarding a certain attribute. It's not illegal to harbor such prejudices, but its alarming and legally actionable when these prejudices manifest themselves in action as forms of discrimination that violate the rights of other individuals.

Although less virulent than previously, some forms of discrimination persist in subtle forms. Avoidance is the most common type of discrimination today. Sometimes even subconsciously we avoid a particular group of people with whom we feel uncomfortable. If that avoidance crosses the boundary between the social and the professional, e.g., a hospital emergency room that refuses to admit and treat, for example, any African-American or gay patient, there can be legal consequences.