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This article is about discrimination in the social science sense. For the act of distinguishing/discriminating between things, see distinction, difference, comparison or differentiation.

The word discrimination comes from the Latin "discriminare", which means to "distinguish between". However, discrimination is more than distinction, it is action based on prejudice resulting in unfair treatment of people. To discriminate socially is to make a distinction between people on the basis of class or category without regard to individual merit. Examples of social discrimination include racial, religious, sexual, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic, height-related, and age-related discrimination.

Distinctions between people which are based just on individual merit (such as personal achievement, skill or ability) are generally not considered socially discriminatory. Consequently, prohibitions against such discrimination generally will not prevent a government from acting in a legitimate and justifiable way based upon the merit of an individual person.

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.<ref>Template:Cite web </ref>

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<ref>[1]Template:Cite web</ref> about his book Democracy: The God That Failed, asserts that a natural social order is characterized by increased discrimination.

Unlawful discrimination can be characteristed as direct or indirect. Direct discrimination involves treating someone less favourably because of the possession of a prohibited attribute (e.g., sex, sexual orientation, age, race, religion, national origin, military status, disability, etc.) than they would treat someone without the prohibited attribute who was in the same circumstances. An example of direct discrimination would be not giving a women a job because she was more likely to take maternity leave. Indirect discrimination involves setting a condition or requirement that a smaller proportion of those with the prohibited attribute can comply with than those who do not have the prohibited attribute without reasonable justification. The case of Griggs v. Duke Power Company[2] provides an example of indirect discrimination where an aptitude test was held to indirectly discriminate against African-American applicants.


[edit] Racial discrimination

Main article: Racism

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

In the United States, racial profiling of minorities by law enforcement officials has been called racial discrimination. <ref> Callahan, Gene, Anderson, William. "The Roots of Racial Profiling", Reason Online, Reason Foundation, 2001 August-September. Retrieved on 2006-07-27.</ref> As early as 1866, 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 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, sex, and national origin. Retaliation is also prohibited by Title VII 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 to Title VII cases and granted Title VII plaintiffs the right to jury trial.

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

[edit] Age discrimination

Main article: Ageism

Age discrimination is discrimination against a person 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, which is also called 'adultism'; discrimination against those 40 years old or older[3], and; discrimination against the elderly.

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 underage teenagers consider that they are victims of age discrimination on the grounds that they should be treated more respectfully by adults and not as second-class citizens. Some complain 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 or rap music and do drugs. Some have organized groups against age discrimination. An increasing number of researchers recognize among society a phenomenon called "ephebiphobia," which is an extreme fear of youth, and is said to manifest itself as extreme discrimination against young people.

[edit] Gender discrimination

Main article: Sexism

Illegal gender discrimination is any action that grants or denies opportunities, privileges, or rewards to a person just on the basis of their sex when such gender discrimination is not a requirement of the future situation. Title VII of the CRA of 1964 allows a BFOQ for gender (contact prison guards, washroom attendents) but such premission is extremely limited. The Equal Pay Act (part of the Fair Labor Standards Act) prohibits wage discrimination by employers and labor organizations based solely on sex.

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' describes the process by which women are barred from promotion by means of an invisible barrier. In the United States, the Glass Ceiling Commission has stated that between 95 and 97 percent of senior managers in the country's biggest corporations are men.[4]

Also transgendered individuals, both male to female and female to male, often experience discrimination because of their gender identity. This may lead to dismissals, underachievement or dire difficulty in finding a job.

Socially, sexual differences have been used to justify societies in which one sex or the other has been restricted to significantly inferior and secondary roles. While there are non-physical differences between men and women, there is little agreement as to what those differences are.

Legislation to promote gender equality is generally complex and varied, with a wide divergence between different countries. The principal legislation in the UK is found in the Equal Pay Act of 1970 (which provides for equal pay for comparable work) and the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, which makes discrimination against women or men (including discrimination on the grounds of marital status) illegal in the working situation that favor male power in a traditional social structure.

[edit] Sexual orientation discrimination

Main article: Homophobia

Sexual orientation discrimination is discrimination against individuals, couples or groups based on sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. This is the most controversial form of discrimination in part on because of some people believing that sexual orientation is a behavior rather than a fixed minority group. Essentially, this involves the discrimination of a person who has a same-sex sexual orientation, whether or not they identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Sexual minorities are often seen as undesirable or immoral by one or more social groups and, thus, discrimination against them is frequently codified into law.

As acceptability of sexual orientation varies greatly from society to society, the degree to which discrimination is sanctioned by society also varies greatly. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is often exacerbated by frustration or anger brought about societal changes that seem threatening to some members of society. In particular, changing gender roles and the increased equality afforded women in most societies is perceived as a threat to traditional patriarchal roles. Similarly, sexual minorities can also be viewed as a threat to gender roles that favor male power in a traditional social structure.

During the last century, as a result of greater acceptance and visibility of sexual minorities in most developed countries, discrimination based on sexual orientation is increasingly seen as unjust and, in more and more nations and localities, has been rendered illegal. The Republic of South Africa is the first nation on earth to embed freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation into its constitution.

In the United States, 17 states have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation with most laws focusing on freedom from discrimination in the work place, housing and public accommodations. Most of these states exempt religious institutions from these anti-discrimination clauses, and several exempt small businesses. In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act protects individuals from sexual orientation discrimination.

Historically, conservative religious leaders and organizations have been at the forefront of fighting legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Increasingly, however, progressive religious leaders have joined with gay rights and human rights activists in seeking to overturn laws that sanction this form of discrimination. Some other people, because sexual orientation discrimination is a component of their religious beliefs, claim that such efforts are often a form of religious bias.

[edit] Language discrimination

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.

[edit] Reverse discrimination

Reverse discrimination is a term used to describe discriminatory policies or acts that benefit a historically sociopolitically nondominant group (typically women and minorities), at the expense of a historically sociopolitically dominant group (typically men and majority races).

[edit] References

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[edit] Bibliography

  • Level Playing Field Institute and Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut (2003) [5] The HOW-FAIR study 2003: How opportunities in the workplace and fairness affect intergroup relations. Level Playing Field Institute, San Francisco.
  • Stokes, DaShanne. (In Press) Legalized Segregation and the Denial of Religious Freedom
  • Associated Press, Residents fight to use eagle feathers (2004)
  • Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR), Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries PART 22 — EAGLE PERMITS
  • Saenz v. Dept. of the Interior (2001)
  • U.S. v. Hardman (2002)
  • Whiting, Lezlee E. Feather confiscation has family fuming (2004)

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

ca:Discriminació cs:Diskriminace da:Diskrimination de:Diskriminierung es:Discriminación eo:Diskriminacio fr:Discrimination he:אפליה hu:Hátrányos megkülönböztetés id:Diskriminasi ms:Diskriminasi nl:Discriminatie ja:差別 pl:Dyskryminacja (psychologia społeczna) pt:Discriminação rmy:Diskriminaciya ru:Дискриминация simple:Discrimination sk:Diskriminácia (znevýhodňovanie) sl:Diskriminacija sr:Дискриминација sv:Diskriminering uk:Дискримінація zh:歧視


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