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Source:
A Workplace Divided:  How Americans View Discrimination and Race on the Job”,
a study conducted by the John J. Heldrich Center for Work Development at Rutgers University.
________________________________________________________________________________

It’s been over 40 years since Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went on the books, a measure that
prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

And over that time period, the American workplace has seen scores of initiatives to inform, educate,
monitor and reform employer and employee behavior that violates the federal mandate.

Diversity Training has emerged as a red hot topic for human relations professionals, and you would be
hard-pressed to find a worker who has not been through some level of diversity training, or at minimum,
viewed a pamphlet or poster outlining their company’s anti-discrimination efforts.  So, on-the-job
discrimination must be going the way of the dinosaur, right?  According to a new national study, the
answer to that question depends on whom you ask.

The above stated study portrays sharply differing views regarding how minorities are treated on the job.  
According to the research, 46 percent of African-American workers believe they will be treated unfairly by
their employers, compared with 10 percent of whites, and 13 percent of persons of other races.  

The study also found that 28 percent of African-Americans and 22 percent of Hispanic-Americans have
personally experienced work-place discrimination, compared with 6 percent of whites.

An overwhelming 94 percent of white workers said employment practices at their place of work, including
hiring, promotion and pay, were fair to all, while nearly half of African-American respondents felt
opportunities were not made equally available.

“We found a glaring divide,” said Carl E. Horn, co-director of the survey.  “Where you fall on this divide is
not about whether you work for the private or public sector, where you live, what you do or how much you
make.  The most powerful indicators of how discrimination is perceived on the job are whether you are
black, Hispanic or white.”

Another telling response involved perceptions of employer response to discrimination charges.  Almost
two-thirds (63 percent) of minority workers who believe they have been the victims of workplace
discrimination said their employer either ignored the complaint or took no action.

Lindy Korn, president of Diversity Training, a law-firm specializing in workplace-based, anti-
discrimination education and dispute resolution, said while the findings of the Rutgers study are
discouraging, they are not surprising.

Korn, who is also a lawyer specializing in workplace issues, said her client list mirrors the survey
responses with more than half of discrimination clients being African-American.  “Some of the cases are
somewhat clear cut, involving hiring or promotions, but many more are subtle, involving harassment and
ethnic slurs,” she said.

She noted the continuing prevalence of ethnic jokes with African-Americans as part of the punch line.  
“I’m still hearing jokes I heard as a child.  That tells me that as a society we need more work on respect
and sensitivity, and that takes time.”

The Rutgers report also found that a large number (almost one-third) of workers have no experience with
diversity issues because they work for what they say are essentially one-color operations.
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