The role of equal employment opportunity laws is to ensure that practices that discriminate or are unfair to specific groups are stopped. These laws further provide a definition of the appropriate enforcement agencies that are concerned with these laws. The legislation on equal employment opportunity seeks to provide employment opportunities irrespective of national origin, gender, religion, and race, and attempts to balance the pay given to women and men. In addition to this, the legislation also prevents discrimination against individuals with disabilities and ensures that employees of all ages are treated with fairness. The equal employment opportunity legislation is based on the concepts of discrimination and affirmative action, where in the case of acts of discrimination compensation is given back and affirmative action is taken(Pynes, 2013). Affirmative action ensures that an employer puts in place steps to ensure that people within protected groups are guaranteed of equal employment opportunities.
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For instance if an employer pays a lower wage to a woman in comparison to a man for the same work, then this is would be regarded as an act of gender discrimination. If in another instant, an employer refuses to hire a man who is qualified for a job but practices Islam; this would be regarded as discrimination on the basis of religion as it is not a job-relevant criteria for hiring an applicant or promoting a candidate.An employer is also responsible for harassment and acts of discrimination by its employers at the workplace and based on this can be held responsible; vicarious liability, unless the employer can prove that it put in place preventive measures to stop harassment and discrimination. Contravening the equal employment opportunities laws attracts penalties and fines for employers.It is a complex challenge for managers to manage human resources effectively because the regulatory and legal environment is changing constantly, requiring that human resources managers stay updated and always on top of things to avoid legal consequences(Pynes, 2013). There also exist areas of legal ambiguity and fiscal uncertainty that call for sound evaluation by human resources managers to ensure that legal obligations are always met in the best way possible (Rush, 2012).
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At the Department of Defense, there have been cases of unlawful termination where whistleblowers in particular have not been protected in accordance with the Fair Work Act of 2009 which for certain reasons prohibits an employer from taking ‘adverse action’ against an employee. Employees who have played the role of a whistleblower in exposing improper dealings in various projects have been known to lose their jobs, including their pension. This, according to Katel (2006) points to a lack of protection for employees who find themselves caught between preserving the integrity of their jobs and the threat of losing their job security by uncovering illegal dealings at the workplace. This is irrespective of whether the actions of the employee were in fact in favor of the organization and in certain instances under the instruction of the employee’s bosses. This point to situations where junior employees can and are in fact used as scapegoats by their superiorsto take the fault for actions gone bad at the workplace and thus sabotaging employee rights.Employees considered disloyal as witnessed in the case of whistleblowing are in many instances transferred or gagged illegally(Katel, 2006).
Protection of the rights of employees in non-negotiable, and in instances where loopholes exist in the way employees are treated and protected at their place of workshould by all means be sealed by law. As exhibited in the case of whistleblowing, there is an obvious social stigma associated with the process and act of alerting others to corruption, danger, scandal, wrongdoing, and other forms of malpractice, which leads to the ostracizing of whistleblowers and a continued lack of protection for their rights as employees. These kinds of disclosures are typically unauthorized and are made through the media or directly to agencies charged with monitoring compliance to the related laws. Protection of the concept of rational loyalty where a whistleblower’s actions are evaluated in light of an organization’s interests as opposed to the interest of the people who control the organization at a given time should be prioritized and upheld by the law. The protection of whistleblowers based on the concept of rational loyalty is by extension the protection of an organization’s real values and those whom they serve; the general public(Blonder, 2010).
In reaction to this reality, Peter & Richard (2012) propose the deliberate inclusion of the term ‘conscience’ in the list of specific freedoms outlined by the constitution, drawing a clear distinction between freedom of religion and a strongly developed freedom of conscience. In their argument, which I also agree with, the inclusion of the term ‘conscience’ recognizes it as a robust and independent freedom that contributes effectively to the development of whistleblowing practices that are valuable socially and that operates within a framework(Peter & Richard, 2012).
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