Racial, Gender Discrimination Persists in the Workplace

The International Labour Organization (ILO) released a report yesterday, listing racial and gender discrimination as persistent impediments to employment progress among minorities and women. The 136-page “Time for Equality at Work,” which evaluated data from the World Bank, anti-discrimination organizations and higher education institutions, argued that discrimination perpetuates poverty, keeping qualified and educated members of minority groups in low-paying jobs without benefits. The report continued, “While some of the more blatant forms of discrimination may have faded, many remain, and others have taken on new or less visible forms…For example, the combined effect of global migration, the redefinition of national boundaries … and growing economic problems and inequalities have exacerbated problems of xenophobia and racial and religious discrimination.” In the US, African Americans and whites continue to show dramatic differences in unemployment rates, wages, health, mortality, and incarceration rates, with blacks comprising a disproportionate component of the lower class.

Meanwhile, a federal judge last month approved a multi-million dollar settlement in a lawsuit charging Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. (MetLife) with racial discrimination in sales of its industrial or “burial” insurance policies (a form of life insurance) during the late 1800’s to 1970’s. According to the New York Law Journal, MetLife allegedly sold policies to blacks at higher premiums and with less benefits than for whites. In addition, nonwhites were subjected to medical exams and background checks, reported the St. Petersburg Times. The settlement, estimated to cost between $52 million and $90 million in benefits (depending on the number of claims filed), also includes corporate contributions up to $5 million to the United Negro College Fund.

Earlier this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agency in Manhattan was slapped with a lawsuit from six of its agents, alleging racial/ethnic discrimination. The five black and single Hispanic agents claimed they suffered “disparate treatment and harassment based on their race or national origin,” including being the subjects of an offensive office cartoon, reported the Associated Press.


Associated Press 4/29/03, 5/3/03, 5/12/03; KCBS.com 4/10/03; NY Law Journal 4/30/03; St. Petersburg Times 8/31/02

Support eh ERA banner