Discrimination in the Work Field


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By Kirsten Bennett, Staff Writer

When applying for a job, it is necessary to have the proper skills for such a task. It is important for teachers to be knowledgeable on what they want to teach. It is important for chefs to know how to cook. It is important for surgeons to know how to perform a proper surgery. The skills are the core of the job itself. So why do appearances dictate whether someone is qualified for a career?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (E.E.O.C.) has a law, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that “makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.” Shouldn’t one’s appearance be protected in this law? Does green hair make one unable to perform a heart transplant? Do visible tattoos make one incapable of being an effective lawyer? Does one’s appearance completely diminish their knowledge and skills?

One may argue that tattoos, piercings, dyed hair, and such look very unprofessional on people. Granted, nurses and doctors aren’t allowed to wear body jewelry during work, since it may interfere with certain medical procedures; however, tattoos and dyed hair don’t pose any danger to patients. Others may argue that tattoos, dyed hair, and piercings are associated with criminal activity. The fault in this argument is that tattoos and body art are not the only stereotypes surrounding the unfortunate debate on what qualifies a person for a job. Since the 9/11 tragedy, there has been an enormous stigma surrounding people of Muslim faith. America is a country that is living off of the basis of fear; we are all so scared of each other that everyone poses a threat, particularly those that fit certain physical descriptions. In addition, it is said that body art creates a distraction in work spaces. It can cause debates and arguments among customers who find such expressions of self to be offensive. People will criticize each other’s appearances based on their own opinions. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where no one is subjected to unfair treatment or harassment in work spaces based on such arbitrary things?

There are weaknesses in the laws that we have that are supposed to protect us as people. In this case, it is apparent that not everyone is offered the same opportunities because of the way they look. It sounds so backwards and ludicrous that we are living in a society where this is a reality for people every single day. To keep up with the changing world, we need to change the way we think about each other to retain our humanity by accepting others regardless of how they choose to present themselves. Appearance should not dictate one’s capability to be a successful worker. As long as one’s decision on how they choose to look does not harm others, it’s safe to say that there is a need for laws that will ensure the overall protection of those seeking work opportunities. It is simply the right of a human being.