Ethical Issue – Discrimination

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Discrimination is an ethical issue. Discrimination is when a person is treated differently and unfairly. Discrimination can be recognised in many ways for example it can be based on grounds of race, age, marital status, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity and disability. Other examples can also be being excluded, being threatened or being made to do inappropriate things, Discrimination is against the law especially at the workplace, school or university, government services, accommodation or health care services, transportation.

There are different types of discrimination that can occur and they are to follow.

Direct Discrimination

This is when someone is when someone has the qualifications and experience that is necessary for the job but they are turned down because they are either too young or too old for the job.

Indirect Discrimination

This type of discrimination occur when you are put at disadvantage then the other employees. if a company has a policy which is equally applied to everyone who is working for the organisation but it is putting a particular person at disadvantage for example if an organisations policy stated that the employees have to work on Sunday, that particularly puts Christians at disadvantage because Sunday is the common day for Christians to go to church and worship.

Discrimination by Association

This type of discrimination is called associative discrimination because this discrimination is not directly based on the employee or the victim but it is based on who the victim is associated with in her own personal life, that person who the victim is associated is the real target of discrimination.
For example, the employer treats the employee less favourably because she went out to meet a person who is gay; this is direct sexual orientation as she was discriminated because of her association with the gay person.


This type of discrimination is unwanted behaviour which a person finds offensive, this could be when the other person is sending you offensive emails, banter which you find offensive, social media abuse, spoken or written abuse.

Misunderstanding Discrimination

Discrimination can be misunderstood as sometimes the companies post an advertisement for particular person. For example a female counsellor is required in a shelter, this could be considered as sex discrimination but the employer can escape this potential by arguing that all the clients are females and they have suffered any type of violence from their male partners and they would not want male as their counsellor.

Personal Experience

The discrimination in this case study is due to the women being pregnant.

I was working in a warehouse few years ago when I had witnessed pregnancy discrimination faced by my friend. A friend of mine called Amira who was from African ethnicity, she was working as a warehouse operative and her employer was very happy with her work. Keeping her hard work in mind the manager promised her that she would be promoted to the administrations team once the role becomes available. After some time at her job she became pregnant, so she told 4her manager about the pregnancy. His attitude about her suddenly changed and he said that if she was promoted to the administration then she would have to go on maternity leave soon. After that he started making comments on how she was always looking tired and needed rest. He started harassing her and telling her that she should reduce her working hours. He started making her lift heavy boxes.

This happened around July time and it gets really hot in the warehouse, she was struggling to work in this weather due to her condition. She did put a request to the manager for light duty work but the request was refused. Few months later the role for the admin office became available and she applied for the job but even though she was promised the position she was not given the role due to her being pregnant. She did provide her medical certificate to the employer and did apply for leave at least 4 months in advance because of her pregnancy, paid or unpaid but it was refused by the company saying once she goes on leave she would not be able to join the job. After all the comments and discriminations and harassment she decided to quit the work before her leave being scared that by working hard and lifting heavy boxes she will lose her baby or cause more health issues for her.

Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination is when a person is treated differently because of their race or colour. This is illegal but this scenario could also count as racial discrimination that she didn’t get the promotion due to her being African in race. There is an equality act 2010 that states that no one should be discriminated because to the race.

Pregnancy discrimination and harassment law (PDA) act of 1978 – This law should have applied to her situation as she was pregnant. Even though pregnancy is not considered a disability pregnant women are still eligible for extra protection. This law is made to make sure there is no discrimination at work place for pregnant women. It is illegal and unlawful to harass a woman just because she is pregnant or even if she has any conditions that are related to childbirth or pregnancy. Making the environment hostile or offensive is illegal.

Sometime the employees are either fired or demoted and the employees sometime quit work. Discrimination can have a very big impact on employees to make these decisions. This discriminator or harasser can be anyone at workplace; it can be the supervisor of the victim, a co-worker or even the customers. This act requires the employers to treat pregnant women same as any other disability for purpose of sick leave or temporary disability benefits. This means that if the employer has a sick leave policy then a pregnant employee should also be able to take as many sick days for pregnancy and childbirth as other employees for any other illness. Under the PDA rules she should have been given all the benefits that any other disabled employee gets. This law prohibits employers from discriminating against anyone in or outside the work.

At this point she should have been motivated to work hard and get somewhere in life. The manger should have supported her and given her all the support needed by her. The employer should have looked at all the health and safety issues that can put Amira and her baby at risk, this is called risk assessment. The risk assessment includes heavy lifting or carrying heavy objects, exposure to toxic and chemical substances, standing or sitting for too long, working without a break or even long working hours. The employer should ask the employee if there are any special requirements by the doctor or the midwife that they should be aware of. If they found any risk in her work the employer should have given her different work like office work or the work that does not require handling heavy objects. If a different or easier job wasn’t available then they could also her given time off work to stay at home until the risk was removed. Amira was not offered a risk assessment at work even though it was very obvious that lifting heavy items could have a very bad impact on Amira and the baby.

The Family and medical leave Act 1993 – This policy could also be used at this scenario as long as the employee follows the usual rules of the company. The FMLA is an unpaid leave but you can use your paid holidays with this given by the company each year. According to the FMLA the organisation is required to provide the employee with at least 12 weeks of leave for reason which can be family and medical. This rule only applies to organisation if the employer has 50 or more employees who work within 75 mile radius of the workplace. To be eligible for this law the employee should have worked for the employer for more than 12 months period and have worked at least 1250 hours during the 12 months. The employee can take the leave if he has both of the above qualifications. This law also helps employees take time off work including their own health issues which includes pregnancy and childbirth. They are eligible for time off if they have newly adopted and child or foster child. If after the leave the employee is not able to

This law could have been used in the scenario and the employer should have given Amira time off work to concentrate on her health and she should have been allowed to rejoin the work after the birth of her child as she was just pregnant, she was working her best at the job and the employer harassed her only because she was pregnant. The only reason should would not have been able to join the job back would be either she could not perform an essential function of the job or if the companies department was laid off. Also if the employees take the leave by fraud but in this scenario none of these reasons were true. She had a genuine reason for the leave. She was working for the same company for the past 5 years and she never took a paid leave before so according to FMLA she was allowed to apply for accrued pay.

Statutory Maternity Leave

This leave is available for eligible employees and they can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. The half of the leave (26 weeks) is called the ordinary maternity leave and the rest of the 26 weeks are called additional maternity leave. There is also paid leave available which is called SMP and SMP can be paid for up to 39 weeks, the first 6 weeks the employee should get 90% of the average weekly earnings and the rest of the 33 weeks they will get £151.20.

In this case Amira should have gotten the maternity pay from the employer even if it was only for few weeks and even if he did not want to pay her the full pay he should have directed her to the SMP maternity leave as this leave is paid by the government but he chooses to let her quit the work.

Business ethics – business ethics us used to make appropriate business policies on subjects like discrimination, bribery, insider trading, fiduciary and corporate social responsibility etc. The law usually provides a basic guideline for the businesses to set the tone of business which the businesses can follow to gain public approval. When it comes to prevent the unethical behaviour at work, the organisation usually look to the manager and the employees to report any incidents they experience but sometimes there are barriers within the company culture that can prevent this from happening such as fear of retaliation for reporting the misconduct. Here is example of business ethic – if a company is selling cereals that are very high in fibre and all natural ingredients but the company tends to advertise that high fibre cereals have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer. The company wants to gain market share but the companies cannot make dubious health claims without the risk of fines. A lot of companies use this kind of labelling but this doesn’t mean that every manufacture or company should engage in unethical behaviour.

Stake holders – stakeholders are defined as who is impacted by any decision maker’s decision. Cooperate stakeholders could be anyone like an employee, supplier, customer, families of employees, community and financiers.


Pregnancy discrimination is a big reason why economic advancement and women’s opportunities are limited at workplace. The fact that pregnant women’s are either fired or not given the opportunity for promotion and not been given leave time is why opportunities are limited for them. They are not even considered for raise while the men gets raise. To defend the rights of pregnant women it is very important to take comprehensive actions which include federal legislation and expansion of research on ethnicity and race. The women should be able to work without having to worry about what their race is and what colour they are only if the workplaces give those more opportunities and provide them with the same wages as others. It is very important that all the companies have policies aimed to reduce the pregnancy discrimination. More awareness should be spread about what the rights of pregnant women and how to assert them. This is why they are either fired or end of quitting work. It is a very critical moment in pregnant women’s life to manage both work and pregnancy so they should be supported at this time. At that time when the discrimination took place even


Cite this paper

Ethical Issue – Discrimination. (2020, Sep 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/ethical-issue-discrimination/

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