Discrimination in the workplace means making harmful decisions about who is fit for a task, or how a person should be treated based on a single characteristic of theirs as opposed to a fair evaluation of their suitability or personality. It is disallowed in many countries. For example, according to Wikipedia1, US business law prohibits discriminating against employees on the basis of their:
- national origin
- disability (phyiscal or mental, including HIV status)
- military service/affiliation
- bankruptcy or debt standing
- genetic information
- citizenship status
Of course, there are some jobs that require a certain amount of 'discrimination' - selectivity, in truth - by their nature. For example, a fashion company may specify that they need women to model their dresses, the military is able to choose not to hire a person for front-line combat if they require a wheelchair to move around, etc.
Harassment includes a range of harmful attitudes and actions between employees, from bosses to their employees and vice versa, or from company workers to customers. Workplace bullying and sexual harassment are perhaps the most famous kinds of this behavior, but according to one Canadian law firm2
Bullying and harassment now includes any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated, but excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers.
A documentary on military rape estimated at least 500,000 women have been faced with sexual harassment in the military3
Employers and employees alike have a responsibility to prevent, minimize and eradicate such activities, and of course outright violence, by taking any all reasonable steps. In many regions, companies are required to have a formal policy forbidding this and outlining appropriate sanctions for misbehavior.
1. Employment discrimination laws in the United States. [ONLINE] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employment_discrimination_law_in_the_United_States. [Last Accessed 8/5/2014].
2. Bakker, C.J. (2014). WORKPLACE POLICIES ON BULLYING AND HARASSMENT: ARE YOU READY?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.shk.ca/workplace-policies-bullying-harassment/. [Last Accessed 8/5/2014].
3. Sanghani, R. (2014). Military rape: Fighting the invisible war inside the Armed Forces. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/10678790/Military-rape-Fighting-the-invisible-war-inside-the-Armed-Forces.html. [Last Accessed 8/5/2014].