Discrimination

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Posted by motoman 02/27/2009 @ 08:03

Tags : discrimination, us

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Economic discrimination

Economic discrimination is a term that describes a form of discrimination based on economic factors. These factors can include job availability, wages, the prices and/or availability of goods and services, and the amount of capital investment funding available to minorities for business. The term is broadly used in economic research, and includes discrimination against workers, consumers, and minority-owned businesses.

It is not the same as price discrimination, the practice by which monopolists (and to a lesser extent oligopolists and monopolistic competitors) charge different buyers different prices based on their willingness to pay.

The term economic discrimination has been in usage for over 150 years, but its meaning has changed significantly since it was coined. The term was first used in British law, specifically the British Railway Clauses Consolidation Act of 1845, which prohibited a common carrier from charging one person more for carrying freight than was charged to another customer for the same service. In 19th century English and American common law, discrimination was meant to indicate improper distinctions in economic transactions. For example, discrimination occurred if a hotelier refused to give rooms to a patron, or the distinction indicated by the British Railway Clauses. Most 19th century economic discrimination was by Protestants against Catholics, or by Christians against Jews, and usually could be referred to as economic discrimination against consumers.

By the early 20th century, discrimination also included biased or unequal terms against other companies or competing companies. The Robinson-Patman Act (1936), which prevents sellers of commodities in interstate commerce from discriminating in price between purchasers of goods of like grade and quality, was designed to prevent vertically integrated trusts from driving smaller competitors out of the market through economies of scale.

It was not until 1941, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order forbidding discrimination in employment by a company working under a government defense contract, that economic discrimination took on the overtones it has today, which is discrimination against minorities. By 1960 anti-trust laws and interstate commerce laws had effectively regulated inter-corporate discrimination so problematic in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but the problem of discrimination on an economic basis against minorities had become widespread.

There is a wide range of theory concerned with the root causes of economic discrimination. Economic discrimination is unique from most other kinds of discrimination because only a small portion of it is due to racism, but rather is due to what has been called a "cynical realization that minorities are not always your best customers". There are three main causes that most economic theorists agree are likely root causes.

Racism, sexism, ageism, and dislike for another's religion, ethnicity or nationality has always been a component of economic discrimination, much like all other forms of discrimination.

Most discrimination in the US and Europe is claimed to be in terms of racial and ethnic discrimination -- blacks and Hispanics in the USA, Muslims in Europe. In most parts of the world, women are held to lower positions, lower pay, and restricted opportunities of land ownership or economic incentive to enter businesses or start them.

This form of economic discrimination is usually leveled at whatever groups are held to be "in power" at the time. For example, in America, discrimination is often considered to be the province of Caucasians, while in Saudi Arabia, it's men who are considered discriminatory. One study suggests that the increase in equal opportunity lawsuits has reduced this kind of discrimination in America by a large amount.

There is a certain opportunity cost in dealing with some minorities, particularly in highly divided nations or nations where discrimination is tolerated. In fundamentalist Islamic societies, some adherents of sharia law feel it's inappropriate for women to work. Companies that employ them might lose the business of offended men, or might suffer boycotts or even violence from extremists.

A second common reason for this kind of discrimination is when the worker or consumer is not cost-efficient. For example, some stores in the US Northwest do not stock ethnic foods, despite requests for such, since they feel the cost is too high for too low a return.

Additionally, the illegal immigration debate in the US has resulted in some businesses refusing to hire such workers based on the likelihood that they would be fined and litigated against.

In some cases, minorities are discriminated against simply because it is inefficient to make a concerted effort at a fair allocation. For example, in countries where minorities make up a very small part of the population, or are on average less educated than the population average, there is rarely an attempt to focus on employment of minorities.

The Equal Opportunity Employment act in the US has almost reduced this sort of rationale for discrimination to nothing, according to recent studies.

There are several forms of economic discrimination. The most common form of discrimination is wage inequality, followed by unequal hiring practices. But there is also discrimination against minority consumers and minority businesses in a number of areas, and religious or ethnic discrimination in countries outside of the United States.

Most forms of discrimination against minorities involve lower wages and unequal hiring practices.

Several studies have shown that several minority groups, including Black men and women, Hispanic men and women, and white women, suffer from decreased wage earning for the same job with the same performance levels and responsibilities as white males. Numbers vary wildly from study to study, but most indicate a gap from 5 to 15% lower earnings on average, between a white male worker and a black or Hispanic man or a woman of any race with equivalent educational background and qualifications.

A recent study indicated that black wages in the US have fluctuated between 70% and 80% of white wages for the entire period from 1954–1999, and that wage increases for that period of time for blacks and white women increased at half the rate of that of white males. Other studies show similar patterns for Hispanics. Studies involving women found similar or even worse rates.

Overseas, another study indicated that Muslims earned almost 25% less on average than whites in France, Germany, and England, while in South America, mixed-race blacks earned half of what Hispanics did in Brazil.

Most wage discrimination is masked by the fact that it tends to occur in lower-paying positions and involves minorities who may not feel empowered to file a discrimination lawsuit or complain.

Hiring discrimination is similar to wage discrimination in its pattern. It typically consists of employers choosing to hire a white candidate over a minority candidate, or a male candidate over a female candidate, to fill a position. A study of employment patterns in the US indicatedthat the number of hiring discrimination cases has increased fivefold in the past 20 years. However, their percentage as a whole fraction of the workforce hirings has decreased almost as drastically. With the stiff laws against discrimination in hiring, companies are very careful in who they hire and do not hire.

Even so, studies have shown that it is easier for a white male to get a job than it is for an equally qualified man of color or woman of any race. Many positions are cycled, where a company fills a position with a worker and then lays them off and hires a new person, repeating until they find someone they feel is "suitable" -- which is often not a minority.

While hiring discrimination is the most highly visible aspect of economic discrimination, it is often the most uncommon. Increasingly strong measures against discrimination have made hiring discrimination much more difficult for employers to engage in. However this is only the case in formal hiring arrangements, with corporations or others subject to public scrutiny and overview. Private hiring, such as apprenticeships of electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and other trades is almost entirely broken down along racial lines, with almost no women in these fields and most minorities training those of their own race.

Most discrimination against consumers has been decreased due to stiffer laws against such practices, but still continues, both in the US and in Europe. The most common forms of such discrimination are price and service discrimination.

Most charges of price discrimination are difficult to verify, without significant documentation. Studies indicate that less than 10% of all price discrimination is actually reported to any authority or regulatory body, and much of this is through class-action lawsuits. Furthermore, while a number of monitoring services and consumer interest groups take an interest in this form of discrimination, there is very little they can do to change it. Most discrimination based on price occurs in situations without a standardized price list that can be compared against. In the cases of per diem charges, this is easily concealed as few consumers can exchange estimates and work rates, and even if they do the business in question can claim that the services provided had different baseline costs, conditions, etc.

Discrimination based on price in areas where special sales and deals simply are not offered can be justified by limiting them to those with strong credit ratings or those with past business with the company in question.

Minority owned businesses can also experience discrimination, both from suppliers and from banks and other sources of capital financing. In the US, there are tax benefits and even public relations benefits from having minority-owned businesses, so most instances of this occur outside of the United States.

This form of discrimination covers suppliers providing substandard goods to a business, or price gouging the business on purchases and resupply orders.

A more significant source of perceived discrimination is in capital investment markets. Banks are often accused of not providing loans and other financial instruments for inner-city minority owned businesses. Most research indicates that the banking industry as a whole is systemic in its abuse of the legal system in avoidance of "high risk" loans to minorities, pointing out that banks cannot provide actual facts backing up their assertions that they deny such loans to a high failure rate.

On the other hand, most financial institutions and some economists feel that all too often, banks are accused unfairly of discrimination against minority owned businesses when said business is simply not worth such a credit risk, and that no one would find such a decision discriminatory if the business were not minority owned. These charges of reverse racism or prejudicial analysis are a longstanding source of controversy in the study of economic discrimination.

An increasing number of economists and international commerce theorists have suggested that economic discrimination goes far beyond the bounds of individuals or businesses. The largest scale forms of economic discrimination, and the widest ranging, affect entire nations or global regions. Many consider that an open world economic system (globalization), which includes world bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), places countries at risk by practicing explicitly discriminatory techniques such as bilateral and regional bargaining, as well as asymmetrical trade balances and the maintaining of cheap force labor. Trade policies like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) are often regarded as financial measures serving only to economically oppress third world nations.

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Discrimination

An African-American child at a segregated drinking fountain on a courthouse lawn, North Carolina, 1938.

Discrimination toward or against a person or group is the treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit. It is usually associated with prejudice. It can be behavior promoting a certain group (e.g. affirmative action), or it can be negative behavior directed against a certain group (e.g. redlining). The latter is the more common meaning.

Unlawful discrimination can be characterized as direct or subtle. Direct discrimination involves treating someone less favorably because of their possession of an attribute (e.g., sex, age, race, religion, family status, national origin, military status, sexual orientation, disability, body size/shape), compared with someone without that attribute in the same circumstances.

Subtle discrimination involves setting a condition or requirement which a smaller proportion of those with the attribute are able to comply with, without reasonable justification. The U.S. case of Griggs v. Duke Power Company provides an example of indirect discrimination, where an aptitude test used in job applications was found "to disqualify Negroes at a substantially higher rate than white applicants".

Racial discrimination differentiates between individuals on the basis of real and perceived racial differences, and has been official government policy in several countries, such as South Africa in the apartheid era, and the USA.

In the United States, racial profiling of minorities by law enforcement officials has been called racial discrimination. As early as 1865, the Civil Rights Act provided a remedy for intentional race discrimination in employment by private employers and state and local public employers. The Civil Rights Act of 1871 applies to public employment or employment involving state action prohibiting deprivation of rights secured by the federal constitution or federal laws through action under color of law. Title VII is the principal federal statute with regard to employment discrimination prohibiting unlawful employment discrimination by public and private employers, labor organizations, training programs and employment agencies based on race or color, religion, gender, and national origin.

Title VII also prohibits retaliation against any person for opposing any practice forbidden by statute, or for making a charge, testifying, assisting, or participating in a proceeding under the statute. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 expanded the damages available in Title VII cases and granted Title VII plaintiffs the right to a jury trial. Title VII also provides that race and color discrimination against every race and color is prohibited.

In the UK the inquiry following the murder of Stephen Lawrence accused the police of institutional racism.

Within the criminal justice system in some Western countries, minorities are convicted and imprisoned disproportionately when compared with whites. In 1998, nearly one out of three black men between the ages of 20-29 were in prison or jail, on probation or parole on any given day in the United States. First Nations make up about 2% of Canada's population, but account for 18% of the federal prison population as of 2000. According to the Australian government's June 2006 publication of prison statistics, indigenous peoples make up 24% of the overall prison population in Australia. ("Indigenous" meaning those identifying themselves as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin) In 2004, Maori made up just 15% of the total population of New Zealand but 49.5% of prisoners. Maori were entering prison at 8 times the rate of non-Maori.

Age discrimination is or group on the grounds of age. Although theoretically the word can refer to the discrimination against any age group, age discrimination usually comes in one of three forms: discrimination against youth (also called adultism), discrimination against those 40 years old or older , and discrimination against elderly people.

In the United States, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employment discrimination nationwide based on age with respect to employees 40 years of age or older. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act also addresses the difficulty older workers face in obtaining new employment after being displaced from their jobs, arbitrary age limits.

In many countries, companies more or less openly refuse to hire people above a certain age despite the increasing lifespans and average age of the population. The reasons for this range from vague feelings that younger people are more "dynamic" and create a positive image for the company, to more concrete concerns about regulations granting older employees higher salaries or other benefits without these expenses being fully justified by an older employees' greater experience.

Some people consider that teenagers and youth (around 15-25 years old) are victims of adultism, age discrimination framed as a paternalistic form of protection. In seeking social justice, they feel that it is necessary to remove the use of a false moral agenda in order to achieve agency and empowerment.

This perspective is based on the grounds that youth should be treated more respectfully by adults and not as second-class citizens. Some suggest that social stratification in age groups causes outsiders to incorrectly stereotype and generalize the group, for instance that all adolescents are equally immature, violent or rebellious, listen to rock tunes, and do drugs. Some have organized groups against age discrimination.

Though gender discrimination and sexism refers to beliefs and attitudes in relation to the gender of a person, such beliefs and attitudes are of a social nature and do not, normally, carry any legal consequences. Sex discrimination, on the other hand, may have legal consequences.

Though what constitutes sex discrimination varies between countries, the essence is that it is an adverse action taken by one person against another person that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. Discrimination of that nature in certain enumerated circumstances is illegal in many countries.

Currently, discrimination based on sex is defined as adverse action against another person, that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. This is considered a form of prejudice and is illegal in certain enumerated circumstances in most countries.

Sexual discrimination can arise in different contexts. For instance an employee may be discriminated against by being asked discriminatory questions during a job interview, or because an employer did not hire, promote or wrongfully terminated an employee based on his or her gender, or employers pay unequally based on gender.

In an educational setting there could be claims that a student was excluded from an educational institution, program, opportunity, loan, student group, or scholarship due to his or her gender. In the housing setting there could be claims that a person was refused negotiations on seeking a house, contracting/leasing a house or getting a loan based on his or her gender. Another setting where there have been claims of gender discrimination is banking; for example if one is refused credit or is offered unequal loan terms based on one’s gender.

Another setting where there is usually gender discrimination is when one is refused to extend his or her credit, refused approval of credit/loan process, and if there is a burden of unequal loan terms based on one’s gender.

Socially, sexual differences have been used to justify different roles for men and women, in some cases giving rise to claims of primary and secondary roles.

While there are alleged non-physical differences between men and women, major reviews of the academic literature on gender difference find only a tiny minority of characteristics where there are consistent psychological differences between men and women, and these relate directly to experiences grounded in biological difference.

Unfair discrimination usually follows the gender stereotyping held by a society.

The United Nations had concluded that women often experience a "glass ceiling" and that there are no societies in which women enjoy the same opportunities as men. The term "glass ceiling" is used to describe a perceived barrier to advancement in employment based on discrimination, especially sex discrimination.

In the United States, the Glass Ceiling Commission, a government-funded group, stated: "Over half of all Master’s degrees are now awarded to women, yet 95% of senior-level managers, of the top Fortune 1000 industrial and 500 service companies are men. Of them, 97% are white." In its report, it recommended affirmative action, which is the consideration of an employee's gender and race in hiring and promotion decisions, as a means to end this form of discrimination.

Transgender individuals, both male to female and female to male, often experience problems which often lead to dismissals, underachievement, difficulty in finding a job, social isolation, and, occasionally, violent attacks against them.

According to UNICEF and Human Rights Watch, caste discrimination affects an estimated 250 million people worldwide.

Most other western nations have similar laws protecting these groups.

Diversity of language is protected and respected by most nations who value cultural diversity. However, people are sometimes subjected to different treatment because their preferred language is associated with a particular group, class or category. Commonly, the preferred language is just another attribute of separate ethnic groups. Discrimination exists if there is prejudicial treatment against a person or a group of people who speak a particular language or dialect. Language discrimination is suggested to be labeled Linguacism or logocism.

If a spanish only speaking individual attempts to gain work at a english speaking only company, the spanish only speaking individual does not have the ability to communicate to the english only speaking company and its employee/customer base. This is not descrimination. Communication is a key skill for any company to run effectively.

Reverse discrimination is a common term used to describe policies or acts that discriminate in favor of a group historically discriminated against (e.g. women, blacks, Hispanics, the disabled, people over 40 years of age, etc). Most academic and expert opponents of preferential policies that favor historically-discriminated groups, such as Carl Cohen, avoid the term "reverse discrimination" on the grounds that "discrimination is discrimination" and that the label "reverse" is a misnomer. Groups such as the American Civil Rights Institute, run by Ward Connerly, have opted for the more politically correct and less politically charged terms such as "race preference," "gender preference," or "preferential treatment" generally, esp since these terms are contained and defined within existing civil rights law, such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In this vein, Ward Connerly has promoted and won a series of ballot initiatives in the states of California (California Proposition 209 (1996)), Washington (1998 - I-200), and Michigan (the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative - MCRI, or Proposal 2, 2006). California's initiative was co-authored by academics Tom Wood and Glynn Custred in the mid-1990s and was taken up by Connerly after he was appointed in 1994 by Governor Pete Wilson to the University of California Board of Regents.

Each of the ballot initiatives have won, and Connerly plans what he calls a "Super-Tuesday" of five additional states in 2008. The language of these ballot initiatives all use the terms "preferential treatment" as their operative clauses.

Arguments abound on all sides of this highly sensitive issue. Some argue that while affirmative action often has ended up as a reverse discrimination quota system for companies, this was necessary to compensate for historical discrimination against (for example) minorities and women and allow them to become a large part of the mainstream work force.

Others argue that this is a highly outdated idea given that such groups now ARE very much in the mainstream, and, along with the quantum change in attitudes about such groups over the last few decades, is an idea whose time has long since passed and now only promotes the very thing it was created to combat (discrimination).

Academics such as Cohen, who was a supporter of Michigan's Proposal 2, have argued that the term "affirmative action" should be defined differently than "race preference," and that while socio-economically based or anti-discrimination types of affirmative action should be permissible, those that give preference to individuals solely based on their race or gender should not be permitted.

Cohen also helped find evidence in 1996 through the Freedom of Information Act that lead to the cases filed by Jennifer Gratz and Barbara Grutter against the University of Michigan for its undergraduate and law admissions policy - cases which were decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 23, 2003.

Bloggers and internet resources against preferential types of affirmative action include John Rosenberg's Discriminations, Tim Fay's Adversity.net, and Chetly Zarko's Power, Politics, & Money.

People with disabilities face discrimination in all levels of society. The attitude that disabled individuals are inferior to non-disabled individuals is called "ableism".

Chronic pain is a debilitating condition which is often neglected in modern society. According to the American Chiropractic Association, over 50% of all working US citizens complain of back pain each year. An estimated 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their life. Many times pain can become chronic and debilitating.

Ergonomic seating and work environments are not only be a reasonable accommodation for those who suffer, they are also a preventative measure to counteract the soaring cost of medical treatment for pain conditions. Ergonomic seating in all public institutions would be a positive step to providing access to public services for all those who need it.

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act provides guidelines for providing wheelchair access for public institutions, but ergonomic devices for those who suffer from pain are something that has yet to be implemented. This is just one of many accessibility issues still faced by disabled individuals.

Disabled people may also face discrimination by employers. They may find problems with securing employment as their handicap can be seen as a risk to the company, and once in employment they may find they are overlooked for promotion opportunities. Similarly, if an employee becomes disabled while employed they may also find themselves being managed out the company by HR departments.

Unsympathetic employers can make life very difficult for such employees and can often make their health problems worse. Disability discrimination laws mean that in theory the employee has a method of redress in such instances.

Almost every person with a syndrome is discriminated. They may not be able to join organizations, and they may even be neglected by schools and other public utilities.

Social theories such as Egalitarianism claim that social equality should prevail. In some societies, including most developed countries, each individual's civil rights include the right to be free from government sponsored social discrimination. Taking into account the capacity to perceive pain and/or suffering that all animals have, 'abolitionist' or 'vegan' egalitarianism maintains that every individual, regardless their species, should have at least the basic right not to be an object. See also speciesism.

In contrast, conservative writer and law professor Matthias Storme has claimed that the freedom of discrimination in human societies is a fundamental human right, or more precisely, the basis of all fundamental freedoms and therefore the most fundamental freedom. Author Hans-Hermann Hoppe, in an essay about his book Democracy: The God That Failed, asserts that a natural social order is characterized by increased discrimination.

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Discrimination against atheists

Ludwig Feuerbach

Various atheist groups have considered laws, regulations and institutions affecting them to be discrimination. The Out Campaign, Brights movement, and Humanist Association of Canada are efforts to counter the feelings of discrimination and raise a positive public awareness about atheism and naturalism.

Egypt introduced new identity cards in 2004 which identifies each citizen of Egypt as one of three religions: Muslim, Christian or Jewish. No other entries are possible, nor is it possible to leave the space for religion blank. If people who are not Muslim, Christian or Jewish are unwilling to lie about their religion, they are denied many basic human rights. Egyptian people who are not Muslim, Christian or Jewish cannot obtain birth certificates, death certificates, marriage or divorce certificates or passports. Without identity cards they have no access to medical treatment, cannot vote, cannot be employed, cannot do business with banks, not even to withdraw money from their own bank accounts.

Nevertheless, atheists are legally protected from discrimination in the United States.

In the 1994 case Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, Supreme Court Justice David Souter wrote in the opinion for the Court that: "government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion". Everson v. Board of Education established that "neither a state nor the Federal Government can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another". This applies the Establishment Clause to the states as well as the federal government. However, several state constitutions make the protection of persons from religious discrimination conditional on their acknowledgment of the existence of a deity, making freedom of religion in those states inapplicable to atheists. These state constitutional clauses have not been tested. Civil rights cases are typically brought in federal courts, so such state provisions are mainly of symbolic importance.

In Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, after atheist Michael Newdow challenged the phrase "under God" in the United States Pledge of Allegiance, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found the phrase unconstitutional. Although the decision was stayed pending the outcome of an appeal, there was the prospect that the pledge would cease to be legally usable without modification in schools in the western United States, over which the Ninth Circuit has jurisdiction. This resulted in political furor, and both houses of Congress passed resolutions condemning the decision, unanimously.. On June 26, a Republican-dominated group of 100-150 congressmen stood outside the capital and recited the pledge, showing how much they disagreed with the decision. The Supreme Court subsequently reversed the decision, ruling that Newdow did not have standing to bring his case, thus disposing of the case without ruling on the constitutionality of the pledge.

Several private organizations, the most notable being the Boy Scouts of America, do not allow atheist members. However, this policy has come under fire by organizations who assert that the Boy Scouts of America do benefit from taxpayer money and thus cannot be called a truly private organization, and thus must admit atheists (along with homosexuals, and others currently barred from membership). An organization called Scouting for All, founded by Eagle Scout Steven Cozza, is at the forefront of the movement to expose perceived hypocrisy on the part of the Boy Scouts of America. Cozza and others allege that when the BSA wants to discriminate, they act as a private organization; when they want money or the use of publicly-funded buildings, venues, or property, they act as a public organization.

Eight state constitutions in the US require a religious test as a qualification for holding public office or being a witness. A unanimous 1961 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Torcaso v. Watkins held that the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the federal Constitution override the state requirements. Thus concluding an oath, either for office or to be a witness, with "so help me God" is not required. Those who choose may affirm instead. The only US president to affirm instead of swearing an oath was Franklin Pierce.

In the European Middle Ages people were persecuted for apostasy, especially in countries where the Inquisition was active. Medieval impiety and godlessness were closer to weak atheism than avowed strong atheism, and hardly any expression of strong atheism is known from this period.

Once appointed Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler banned freethought organizations and launched an “anti-godless” movement. In a 1933 speech he declared: “We have . . . undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” However, discrimination against both religious and secular non-Nazi groups was common in the totalitarian Reich, occurring among a wide spectrum of organizations, even against some of the largest religions.

Some interpret the Qur'an as calling for the death of Apostates, or people who leave Islam.

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Source : Wikipedia