Human Resources:

Beyond Sexual Discrimination

From all that the media reports and everything else we hear from various sources in the world, we may incorrectly come to the conclusion that sexual harassment and sexual discrimination are the basis of all illegal discriminations as well as litigations that deal with the subject. Despite what we may think we know, there is a lot more to illegal discrimination than just sex.

A more accurate and clear definition of discrimination would be a biased decision that is made by a person in the position to hire, compensate, discipline, promote, fire or retire an employee based on that employee's race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age or sexual preference. Using any of these criteria as a basis for employment decisions is illegal unless the employer can prove a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exists. A bona fide occupational qualification is a special circumstance whereby an employer is in need of an employee of a certain age, gender etc in order to fulfill the qualifications of the position. For example, a magazine may be looking for a professional to hire to model young men's streetwear whereby they put a maximum age limit of 20 on the position. Therefore, being under the age of 20 is a BFOQ for this job.

An excellent example of an anti-discrimination law is Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In its original form, this act was intended to outlaw discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex or national origin. In addition, other amendments have since been added in order to broaden the scope of the original act. Examples of additional amendments are the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.