Imagine that you are a department manager and you find out that a man you work with has become a woman, or you find out a woman you work with enjoys the private company of woman, would these concepts cause you to discriminate against your employees in the workplace? Analysis of case studies, understanding applicable laws, and recommending clearly defined policies for the workplace will assist with understanding and preventing affinity orientation discrimination. It is important in today’s workplace to have an intricate understanding of the difference between affinity orientation and the word sex as it pertains to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).
The term sex referred to in Title VII represents the gender of an individual employee. Affinity orientation refers to the intimate relationship that an individual may have with another individual of the same gender, or an individual’s desire to become the opposite gender, either temporarily or permanently. There are various types of affinity orientation, none of which are protected by Title VII (Bennett-Alexander, 2001 p.243).
One example affinity orientation would be a woman who is a lesbian or a man who is gay. It is becoming increasingly popular for men and women to have a surgical procedure performed to become the opposite gender; this too is a form of affinity orientation. Affinity orientation has become a subject of adversity in the workforce as a result of there being little protection against discrimination for employees participating in the various types of affinity orientation. Case study analysis is a method that management can utilize to better understand affinity orientation in the workplace and preventing discrimination.
Case Study #1
Michael is employed at ABC Hospital as an operating nurse. Michael had taken a leave of absence from work to have a gender change operation. Upon Michael’s return to work at ABC Hospital Michael wanted to be addressed by the name Michelle. Since Michelle completed the gender change surgical procedures she felt that she had the right to utilize the women’s locker room and shower like all the other women employed at ABC Hospital. The male employees did not want Michelle to use the men’s locker room because of her gender change. The women refused to share the women’s locker room with Michelle, because the women knew of Michelle’s original gender.
At ABC Hospital it is standard procedure for operating room nurses to wear unisex surgical scrubs. Therefore, I do not see the reason why she want use the men locker and shower room. Michelle is not wearing a uniform dress with a cap as a nurse while at work. I feel that she is still considered as a man.
Michelle is hoping to file discrimination against her co-workers since having the sex change because no one is accepting her as a female. If she were hired as a male she should not feel discriminatory. I think that she should be accommodated with a locker room and shower that is for either a man or a woman.
Case Study #2
Tracy is a lesbian who alleges that she has been denied an internal company promotion due to the fact that her department manager does not want to support her lesbian lifestyle. Mr. Green, Tracy’s department manager, is accused of discriminating against Tracy by not writing her a letter of recommendation for a promotion. Tracy feels that the excellent yearly performance reviews that Mr. Green wrote for her entitles her to obtain a letter of recommendation from Mr. Green. There are legitimate reasons for Tracy’s discrimination claim to be denied.
Title VII offers protection against discrimination at the workplace; however, Title VII does not protect against affinity orientation in the workplace. There are no federal laws that prevent a person from being fired or refused a job on the basis of affinity orientation. There are however, the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America, that offer freedom of speech, the right to privacy, and equal protection under law (Bennett-Alexander, 2001, p.243). Tracy does not have a discrimination claim against her department manager Mr. Green as a result of affinity orientation.
Tracy’s supervisor Mr. Green gave her excellent annual performance evaluations that are more than sufficient enough to apply and expect to be eligible any company promotions. Mr. Green is not obligated to give employees letters of recommendation for promotions, transfers, or applications for employment inside or outside of the company where he is employed as a department manager.
The company followed all employee performance review procedures correctly. It is standard practice for companies to place the best-suited candidate in vacant positions. The use of employment evaluations ensures that all candidates are given equal opportunity for job advancements. Should Mr. Green have given Tracy poor performance evaluations on a consistent basis, Tracy may have been able to prove a discrimination claim. It is important to have set policies in place to keep employees informed of what criteria must be met for company advancement or promotions. Employment manuals are a suitable method of ensuring that employees are notified of company policies.
In an effort to eliminate future claims of discrimination in the workplace relating to company advancement, Mr. Green should have established set policies regarding letters of recommendation. It is recommended that Mr. Green have the employee manual clearly state that department managers are not permitted to write referral letters for employees applying any positions within the company. The policy would be based on the fact that a letter of recommendation made by a department manager could indicate preference in the workplace and unfair advantage for certain employees.
Another option Mr. Green could have implemented would be to permit employees to obtain letters of recommendation from sources outside of the company. Outside recommendations could strengthen an employee’s resume while not creating the opportunity for discrimination in the workplace. An implemented policy that addresses the importance of an employee’s ability to meet and satisfy the requirements of the position would lessen the likeliness of a discrimination claim. Regardless of which position the company takes with respect to letters of recommendation, employees would be advised of company policies well in advance of applying for any positions within the company.
Taking precautions in the workplace through the use of implemented policies can eliminate potential discrimination claims. Analyzing case studies, reviewing applicable laws, and recommending policies for the workplace are an excellent method of preventing affinity orientation discrimination.
Bennett-Alexander, D. D., & Hartman, L. P. (2001). Employment Law for Business (III ed.) Boston, Massachusetts: Mc Graw-Hill Primis.
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