Discrimination. What is it?

August 2nd, 2012 by poobalan | View blog reactions Leave a reply »
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Discrimination can exist in many forms. US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lists age, disability, equal pay/compensation, genetic information, national origin, pregnancy, race/color,  religion, retaliation, sex and sexual harassment as types of discrimination at workplaces. (source)

Discrimination is defined as:  prejudicial treatment of an individual based on his or her membership – or perceived membership – in a certain group or category. It involves the group’s initial reaction or interaction, influencing the individual’s actual behavior towards the group or the group leader, restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to a group, leading to the exclusion of the individual or entities based on logical or irrational decision making. (wikipedia source).

The same source above says UN’s stance is that “discriminatory behaviors take many forms, but they all involve some form of exclusion or rejection”.

Can discrimination be good? For example, if KTMB offers discount cards to students and the senior citizens, isn’t it discrimination to the the other commuters who are not students or senior citizens? Can an individual complain or sue KTMB?

How about denying entry into an educational institution based on race or ethnicity? Is that discrimination? Perhaps no, if the educational institution is funded by groups with their own funds.

If a education institution selects students based on “status”, is that discrimination? If there’s quota, is that discrimination? Can it be justified by using economic status or lack of opportunities for some? If there are more females than males in universities, would a quota for female students be discrimination?

Have you seen vacancies asking for “Mandarin speaking” applicants? Isn’t that discrimination based on language? Or can the employer justify it by saying the position requires the knowledge of that particular language? Is Mandarin restricted to any one group only? Is it a workaround to hire Chinese candidate? Possible.

If we were to post “BM speaking applicants only”, would be discriminatory towards foreign workers who may not be fluent or certified in BM?

How about saying that only Muslims can be Syariah court lawyers? Is that discrimination based on religion? Or is it a requirement by the religion?

Can you choose not to hire a disabled person? Perhaps can, if the work involves physical activities that is hindered by the disability of the applicant. You can hire a visually challenged person to be a telephone operator, right?

Can you deny a disabled person the right to drive a vehicle? Possible, if it can be proven that providing the license may endanger the person or others due to the incapability of the disabled person to drive correctly.

By not having disabled friendly facilities in buildings, are the building operators/management being discriminatory?

When the salesperson chooses to ignore you, and approaches a “more realistic” potential customer, is that discrimination? (happens to me often, which can be a good thing after all!).

When Tamil drama is shown at 3.30am in national TVs, is that discrimination? When no programs for other communities are shown, is that discrimination? Can lack of budget be an acceptable excuse?

When provision for places of worships for some groups are not provided, is that discrimination?

When your colleagues seems to be drawing higher salary even though you are equally or more qualified, is that discrimination? Maybe yes, maybe no. Perhaps they negotiated well?

Not hiring married women because “they may get pregnant” is discrimination? How about penalising pregnant ladies by pressuring them, so that they will resign? Is that discrimination?

If the bus seat is not big enough, is the bus company discriminatory towards large-sized persons?  If the large size is due to genetics, then would it be discriminatory?

Wonder how its related to racism. Is racism a subset of discrimination? Seems to me its part of discrimination. Is discrimination same as marginalisation? Can discrimination be unintentional? It certainly can be institutionalised, made into laws.


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