Benefit Discrimination – Does It Exist?

For the longest time, society has been pushing for equality. Some people believe we’ve achieved it; others remain doubtful. Equality, after all is a very abstract thing to define. Exactly when and how do we know we’ve achieved equality? A more pressing question is, does it even exist?

Discrimination has long been a hot topic in table talks. It’s a behaviour many people do not condone yet still end up doing. Discriminatory acts may be exhibited in many settings and situations. At work, for example, men may be granted more favour over women in terms of promotion, salary, and incentives. In the United States alone, men are said to receive ____% more compensation than women for doing the same amount of work. Some female employees choose to disregard this obvious display of discrimination against women and continue working under unfair conditions. While other women feel the need to rise against such injustice and fight for their right. The same problem is encountered by immigrants, disabled employees, and pregnant women.

Some accounts even complain about benefit discrimination. If this unfair treatment ever happens to you, will you just keep your mouth shut and go with the flow? Or, will you stand up and claim what is rightfully and deservingly yours?

Before you answer that question, let’s get to know more about benefit discrimination.

What Is Benefit Discrimination?

Benefit discrimination is the act of depriving employees of their lawful right to avail state benefits – or any other company benefit, for that matter – because of their age, color, religion, race, and/or sexual orientation. In other words, it’s when companies isolate several employees out of their own personal biases or prejudices. Employee benefits are already in a controversial position with the law. Factor in discrimination which is considered a blatant violation against any federal state law, and what do you get?

A bucketload of trouble for unjust companies.

Who Are Most Affected By Benefit Discrimination?

The primary victims of benefit discrimination are employees who deviate from the “norm.” Note here that the word “norm” is situational. For example, if you work in a Japanese company (that is literally based in Japan), the normal faces you’ll see are that of Japanese people. In the same way you’ll normally see boys in an All Boys Dormitory. The definition of the word “norm” varies in every situation. It’s a case-to-case basis, really.

And in this case, since we’re dealing mostly with U.S. companies, the norm would refer to typical American workers of American decent who are appropriately aged and non-queer. So people who lie on the extremes and do not quite adhere to these norms become a tempting target for discriminatory activities – sad or unfair as it may sound.

As to how discrimination is executed, well, there are many ways. Just like how there are many ways to kill the cat – only in this case, what is killed is the person’s self-worth and confidence. It may be seen when employees make fun, put down, or bully another employee because of his unique, “abnormally-seen” characteristics. Or when a certain employee is robbed of his rights to fair job evaluations, thus also robbed of his chances to grow and get promoted inside a company. In some cases, discriminated employees may even experience a disadvantage when it comes to the determination and issuance of employee benefits. And sometimes, it even happens blatantly. For example, every other employee will get health insurance except for one disadvantaged and discriminated employee. Or, a discriminated employee may find it more difficult to file for sickness or vacation leaves than other employees. Overtime work may be, at times, left unpaid, benefits may take longer to process, and promotion or regularization may never even become possible.

If you can relate to these examples, then you’re probably someone (or at least knows someone) who suffers from the same kind of treatment in the workplace as well. Employee discrimination – or more importantly, benefit discrimination – is a serious violation of not only worker’s rights but human rights as well. Every person deserves to be treated equally, inside and outside of work. Any company who fails to understand this may find themselves at a disadvantage in the future.

Given The Evidence, Do You Think Benefit Discrimination Exists to This Day?

As to whether it is still WIDELY used in practice, we cannot say. What we do know is that it DOES still exist. The intermittent cases we receive are proof of that. And it’s a real shame, really. No matter how far society has gone, no matter how well information is disseminated, and no matter how much NGOs and social groups push for equality – employee and benefit discrimination to this day. It just teaches us that some people just never change; that some of them remain to be close-minded people. We are at an age of globalization and individuation; it’s about time we let go of our prejudices.

And it starts with you.

What Can You Do To Help Stop Benefit Discrimination? 

Maintain A Healthy Work Environment

It doesn’t matter if you’re the company CEO, secretary, rank-and-file employee, supervisor, janitor, maintenance man, cafeteria lady, or whatnot. You are partly responsible for the kind of work environment your company will thrive on. Be your best and maintain it. Always show respect to everyone you work with – even if others won’t do the same as you. You may just be a piece of the big puzzle, a pawn in the game, but you are IMPORTANT nonetheless. And your kindness can save the oppressed.

Be Just In Your Actions

Always be fair with everyone. The amount of respect you show your boss should be the same respect you show the people you work with. Welcome new employees, appreciate the old ones, encourage the solitary, and embrace the diverse. Don’t let age, status, position, gender, nationality, or other personal factors get in the way of your judgement. When people work, it is only right to judge them by their outputs and work ethic – nothing more, nothing less.

Report Discriminatory Behaviors To The Authorities & Seek Legal Counsel

Lastly, DON’T ACT BLIND. If you feel that you’re at a disadvantage – or, know someone else in your workplace that is – speak up. A toxic work environment often remains toxic because employees choose to turn a blind eye to it. Don’t be a slave to your fears but rather serve your own justice. Seek legal counsel; get professional help. Know that when you stand by what is right, good things follow.

So speak up, step up, and be your own voice.

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