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The status quo of discrimination - Willing workers in unwilling circumstances

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  1. Inequality, a social matter
  2. Recognizing the harm of discrimination is insufficient
  3. Concern for discrimination, seeking justice and equality
  4. More awareness than actions
  5. Using a quota system
  6. Equal opportunity and equal participation
  7. Substantive equality in Canada
  8. The growth of unionization

The idea of equality has been the dream of the hopeful but the reality is only a glimpse of the ideal. Since the Holocaust in World War II, there has been an international recognition for equality as outlined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, the idea of equality has eluded the daily interactions that people experience. Sexual harassment continues to exist in the workplace; degrading stereotypes still circulate around communities; and discrimination constantly divides Canadians. Although classification is a process that is innate, discrimination is not. The problem with discrimination parallels the problem of equality: there is no clear definition for these ideas. Through statutes and precedents, the interpretation of discrimination is clearer yet it is not the only obstacle to equality.

[...] The main issue is to identify what grounds of discrimination should be prohibited. The list started with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms but many new grounds have been added since then. Unfortunately, the laws that govern private activities are enacted by the respective provincial government. For instance, the Ontario Human Rights Code added two new grounds of discrimination (i.e. ?gender identity? and ?gender expression?) in 2012 but these are not explicitly stated in other provincial human rights code (?Grounds of Discrimination?, n.d.). [...]


[...] In some circumstances, filing a complaint may be viewed as being a weakness in character. Due to the fear of being ridiculed, some employees may ignore the harm that was inflicted in order to avoid further harm from their colleagues. Especially for those who are seeking for advancement, they may fear that they will lose their opportunity if they file a complaint. These social factors have deterred many victims of discrimination from seeking remedy. While the complaint process may be less efficient than it should be, it is available. [...]


[...] Until society accepts that discrimination has occurred and action is necessary, there will be no progress toward equality. Naturally, humanity has many differences that divides more than bonds. Without effective policies and programs to control discrimination, social factors will only emphasize and exploit the differences that exist. Fortunately, the growth of unionization has given employees more power by ?offer[îng] direct voice and representation to smaller proportions of workers? (Pocock p. 565). With the availability of remedies such as grievance, employees are empowered by the support of collective bargaining. [...]


[...] The reality is that discrimination continues to exist in every aspect of society. As conformity is the norm, people will grow up and realize the restraints that exist. As the number of job-seekers increases, they will need to fulfill the skill requirements as well as the discriminatory views that employers impose on them. When the power of employers is uncontested, inequality shall continue to exist. Despite the improvements in human rights, there is a lack of initiative for people to report discrimination due to the inefficiency of the remedies and the social criticism against complainants; consequently, discrimination remains as a status quo that continues to restrict the opportunities of capable workers in both employment and advancement. [...]


[...] While discrimination is not allowed, there are no obligations to promote employees. Upon applying for an advancement, ?promotions should be made based on objective evidence related to job performance and abilities, and not on subjective assessments that are based on stereotypes or unfounded assumptions related to a ground? that is protected by law (?Human Rights at Work 2008 - Third Edition?, 2008). This allows for equal opportunity but the employees must have the initiative to apply for advancements. This gives control to the employees yet it has acted as a barrier for them. [...]

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