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Breaking the Glass Ceilings Women/Minorities and Employment Regulations Abstract This paper is about workplace discrimination and how gender and race discrimination can lead to the formation of so-called glass ceiling. It also discusses employment laws which regulate this area. Introduction The “glass ceiling” is a theoretical level beyond which women and minorities are unable to advance in a workplace. This refers to unseen barriers that prevent qualified individuals from advancing within their organizations to reach their full potential.

The term originally described the point beyond which women managers and executives were not promoted because of discrimination based on sex. Now, glass ceiling apply in many cases to minorities as well. In various workplaces, the glass ceiling blocks access to top level executive positions. In others, entire categories of jobs might be unattainable by female or minority employees. Unfortunately, a color and gender blind society does not exist yet and glass ceiling persist in many workplaces.

In many cases, glass ceiling amount to illegal discrimination. Background The fact finding report, “Good for Business: Making Full Use of the Nation’s Human Capital” recounts some interesting information (Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, 1995). As described on page 8 of the report, surveys of the top Fortune 1000 industrial and 500 service companies show that 95 percent of senior level managers are men and of that 95 percent, 97 percent are white. Moreover, of the five percent of these managers who are women, only 5 percent are minority women.

That converts into slightly more than 2100 senior women executives in these companies and only five percent of these senior women are minorities (Redwood, 1996, p. 7). Yet, as discussed by author Redwood, there are nearly 60 million working women in the United States and more that 45 percent of the U. S. workforce is female (1996, p. 8). Furthermore, women and minorities are two-thirds of the population, two-thirds of consumers, and 57 percent of the work force (Redwood, 1996, p. 8).

Also, virtually all women in the workplace have lower mean incomes when compared to their male counterparts, and most minority men earn less than non-Hispanic white men with same education at the same occupational level (Redwood, 1996, p. 14). This sort of wage discrimination and unequal pay is a major sign of the existence of glass ceiling (Redwood, 1996, p. 14). As Redwood says, “Cracks are in the ceiling and women are moving up the corporate ladder. Progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go” (1996, p. 11).

Further, Redwood lists internal structural barriers and business barriers such as: Outreach and recruitment practices that do not reach or recruit women and minorities: Corporate climates that alienate and isolate; Pipeline barriers that restrict career growth because of poor training, inadequate mentoring, biased rating and testing systems; Few or no internal communication networks; Limited rotational job assignments that lead to the executive suite; and institutional rigidity that deny the fragile family and work balance (1996, p. 1). Often, qualified people are denied from reaching their full potential because they do not have access to mentoring, developmental assignments, training, and other career enhancing activities (Red, 1996, p. 22). In late January of 2002, U. S. Representatives John D. Dingell (D-MI) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) released a study that recounted a growing wage gap between male and female managers between 1995 and 2000. The Dingell-Maloney report, called “A New Look Through the Glass Ceiling: Where Are Women? was based on date from a U. S. General Accounting Office (GAO) survey of ten industries and analyzed by the staffs of Representatives Dingell and Maloney. These industries included communications, public administration, business and repair services, entertainment and recreation services, other professional services, educational services, retail trade, finance, insurance and real estate, hospitals and medical services, and professional medical services.

The report discovered that the earnings gap between full-time women and men mangers grew larger from 1995 to 2000 in seven of the ten industries (Dingell-Maloney Report, 2002, p. 1). The report emphasized that the time period studied covered a period of economic prosperity, thus making the expanding wage gap especially disconcerting (Dingell-Maloney, 2002. p. 1). Based upon the Dingell-Maloney report, it certainly appears that the glass ceiling is not disappearing, but rather thickening for women, and by extension minorities. Pertinent Employment Laws

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basic of race, national origin and religion and is one of the more significant federal laws in relation to employment. Perhaps the most important provisions of this Act, as related to this topic, is Title VII, which is entitled the Fair Employment Practices Act. Title VII is a basic anti-discrimination status and was intended to eliminate job discrimination based on the following protected classes (1) race, (2) color, (3) religion, (4) sex, or (5) national origin (42 U.

S. C. 2000 (e) (2)). As amended by the Equal Opportunity Act of 1972, Section 703 (a) (2) of Title VII provides in pertinent part: a) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer – (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive and individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affects his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin (42 U.

S. C. ) 2000 (2) (2)). The determinative issue in establishing a violation of Title VII is whether members of one protected class suffer from disadvantageous terms and conditions of employment. In essence, this law prohibits discrimination in employment decisions regarding promotion or demotion, payment of compensation or benefits, availability of job training, referral systems for employment, decisions regarding dismissal, work rules, and any other term, condition, or privilege of employment (Cheeseman, 1995, p. 754).

Title VII applies to employers who have fifteen or more employees for at least twenty weeks in the current or preceding year, all employment agencies, labor unions with 15 or more members, state and local government and their agencies, and most federal government employment (Cheeseman, 1995, p. 754). In relation to state law, Section 708 of Title VII specifically permits parallel state regulation of employment discrimination as long as the state law does not conflict with Title VII. At present time, every state has a law which forbids discrimination in employment (Rothstein and Liebman, 1998, p. 28). Although state laws are similar to Title VII, there are two important differences that are discussed by Rothstein and Liebman in the book Employment Law – Cases and Materials (1998, p.. 228). First, state fair employment practice laws typically do not let small employers off the hook but also holds them accountable for discriminatory actions. Secondly, some state legislatures have gone beyond the protected classes of Title VII and ban discrimination based on marital status or sexual orientation (Rothstein and Liebman, 1998, p. 228).

In an employment context, managers must be careful not to discriminate as far as who receives training or professional enhancement opportunities. A manager cannot favor one race, color, religion, sex, or national origin over another in deciding whom to train or who to prepare for a professional upgrade. For example, manager cannot choose to send only white men to executive management courses and leave the women and minorities behind. Instead, candidates for professional training should be selected based on non-discriminatory criteria such as merit or seniority.

Compensation disparities also can arise in the workplace because of discriminatory practices. This is discussed on the website maintained by the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Once again, in terms of compensation, this is called the “glass ceiling” phenomenon. For example, as asserted by the EEOC website, “the glass ceiling phenomenon can be seen in discriminatory promotion decisions, performance appraisals, procedures for assigning work, or training opportunities, or a company practice of steering protected class members into low paying jobs or limited their opportunity to transfer to better jobs” (2000).

These practices also violate Title VII and can lead to a discrimination law suit an employer. In addition to a Title VII violation, discriminatory workplace actions which involve pay scales may also violate the Equal Pay Act (EPA). The Equal Pay Act specifically prohibits discrimination in compensation. However, the EPA is different from Title VII in that it is aimed only at pay discrimination between men and women performing substantially equal work in the same establishment. Recommendations

For each of the aforementioned federal regulations (Title VII and the Equal Pay Act), there are specific things that employers can do to avoid being the target of a potential lawsuit. For example, the determinative issue in establishing a violation of Title VII is whether members of one of the protected classes suffer from disadvantageous terms and conditions of employment. So, in order to avoid any potential legal claims based on Title VII violations, mangers must not discriminate against any members of a protected class in any way.

For example, as suggested by Henry R. Cheeseman in his book Business Law, employers can select or promote employees based on merit to avoid any Title VII claims (Cheeseman, 1995 p. 760). Merit decisions can be based on work performed, skills, educational experience, and professionally developed ability tests. Another possibility articulated by Mr. Cheeseman in his excellent book is that an employer may maintain a system based on seniority, which rewards long-term employees (1995, p. 761).

Seniority systems also provided an incentive for employees to stay with a company. These suggestions also hold true to avoid any potential claim for violation of the Equal Pay Act. Employers should compensate employees based on a neutral system such as merit or seniority. Conclusion This paper has explored the issue of discrimination in the workplace and how gender and race discrimination can lead to the formation of so-called glass ceiling for persons who fit into these protected classes.

It has also discussed two laws, Title VII and the EPA, which are intended to reduce the occurrence of so-called glass ceiling. Ultimately, employers should realize that they need the input of women and minorities in their businesses to better address the changing workplace demographics, and competition in today’s economy. References Cheeseman, H. R. (1995). Business Law. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Dingell-Maloney Report. (2002). A New Look Through the Glass Ceiling: Where are the Women? U. S.

General Accounting Office. Available: http://www. house. gov/maloney/issues/womenscaucus/dingellmaloneyre port. pdf. Retrieved December 11, 2006. Redwood, R. (1996, March). The Glass Ceiling. In Motion Magazine. P. 32-46 Rothstein, M. A. & Liebman, L. (1998). Employment Law-Cases and Materials. New York, NY: Foundation Press. U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2000). EEOC Compliance Manual. Available: http://www. eeoc. gov/docs/compensation. html. Retrieved December 13, 2006. 42 U. S. C. 2000, et. seq.