Reverse Discrimination



The term ‘reverse discrimination’ is used to elaborate a specific type of discrimination practice performed by organizations where employees of a historically advantaged group are  discriminated on the basis of gender, race, age and other characteristics (Goldman, 2015). Occasionally, reverse discrimination focuses on describing programs that are meant to address inequality and promote minorities, such as affirmative actions. The objective of such discrimination is to provide equal opportunity to the people from the minority groups. However, many people have argued that conducting such practices can reduce the probability of deserving people recruited for performing particular organizational responsibilities. The study will include an in-depth insight of the concept reverse discrimination.

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The concept of reverse discrimination

Unlike other discrimination lawsuits, Federal Civil Rights Law has not included the concept of reverse discrimination. However, the term refers to a particular situation where employees of majority groups are discriminated based on various protected factors like gender and race. According to Eisele and Van der Mei (2012), organizations adopt diversity programs to “level the playing field” within the corporate settings. The situation related to reverse discrimination arises when organizations decide to promote or hire favoring the minority groups paying no heed to the seniority of Caucasian or the experience of the applicants. Many organizations have often performed discriminative recruitment practices like hiring women solely, refusing to hire people above 40 years or rejecting an applicant solely based on race. Thus, it reflects that too much emphasize on reverse discrimination process can increase the probability of breeching discrimination laws for an organization.

The law: Reverse discrimination in employment

Courts have struggled to deal with different cases related to discrimination for many years. According to Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964, organizations shall prohibit the discrimination of employees based on sex, religion, race, gender or national origin irrespective of any circumstances (Aiken, Salmon, & Hanges, 2013). Moreover, Title VII has mentioned that organizations shall not construct policies and programs that can create disparate impact on the overall workforce. However, courts have used different interpretation to elaborate discrimination practices that are performed in favor of minority. For instance, discrimination performed in favor of women and minority groups have been upheld by courts. The remaining discrimination cases have remained as contentious legal issues.

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Reverse discrimination claims are extremely difficult to prove in a practical scenario, as the plaintiff will have to deal with the burden of proving discrimination practices performed by employers based on race, sex or gender (Coston & Kimmel, 2012). In order to prove reverse discrimination practices, a plaintiff needs to provide the following evidences:

  1. The individual against whom a complaint is launched is a member of a protected category (for instance: sex, gender, class, age, race and religion.)
  2. Evidence in support of the comparatively high favorable treatment that individuals have received outside of the plaintiff’s class
  3. Evidence in support of the claim that the employer is performing discrimination against the majority or historically privileged groups
  4. Plaintiff also needs to prove that he or she has performed all the provided job responsibilities satisfactorily.

Impact created by excessive use of reverse discrimination

The Supreme Court has mentioned that the reversed layer among the Scheduled tribes and Scheduled castes can be kept out of the purview of reservation, which shall not exceed 50 %t (The Hindu, 2012). Equality of opportunity often generates two distinctive perspectives from two different groups of people. For instance, the leaders from minority groups often applaud reverse discrimination practices by the companies. On the other hand, people of historically advantage group have raised questions against such discriminative practices. People have argued that discrimination practices shall not be performed based on caste, race or gender but it shall focus on protecting people struggling with financial crisis. Providing additional employment opportunity based solely on caste or race can damage the morale of rest of the workforce. Therefore, organizations need to find a way to maintain balance between remaining unbiased and performing reverse discrimination practices.

Traditionally, anti-discrimination lawsuits have a tendency of moving towards defective reservation. Therefore, setting a numeric benchmark is the best way to deal with any type of discrimination charges. The Supreme Court opines that reservation is essential not for perpetuating caste but for transcending it. It indicates the fact that reservation practices need to be performed in limited scenarios or else it will encourage caste is min the country. Excessive use of reservation practices can defuse open competition within the corporate world based on the skills, knowledge and attitude, as general category candidates might become ineligible or get barred from recruitment procedure (Ghumman, Ryan, Barclay, & Markel, 2013).

Ways to deal with reverse discrimination

Employees have the right to file complaints against the employer based on the charge of employment discrimination. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible to evaluate these types of claims made by employees (Lindsey, King, McCausland, Jones, & Dunleavy, 2013). However, it is critical for an employee to perform various steps prior to filing of legal complaint. Firstly, employees need to make notes of several discriminative practices by documenting time and date of the incident. Without having proper documented evidence, employees are likely to lose their claim. Secondly, employees need to communicate with employers regarding the discrimination practices. Many times, employees are inadvertently involved in discrimination practices. Therefore, sharing concern with the employers can eliminate such issues from the workplace.

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Human resource department has to play a critical role in keeping the balance between reverse discrimination practices and equal employment opportunities, as it possesses official authority to develop policies and claims. The US’s EEOC enforces majority of the anti-discrimination laws including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Disabilities Act of 1990 (Rush, 2012). Therefore, most of the time employees are requested to resolve the dispute through negotiations. It amplifies the fact that complete elimination of reverse discrimination practices cannot be achieved within an economy. Thus, both government laws and company policies need to find a middle ground to keep the entire workforce happy and satisfied within the corporate setting.


Reverse discrimination practices are encouraged by the governments of several economies to protect minority groups. Minority groups, specifically in the developing or underdeveloped countries, are way behind in terms of social development compared with the majority groups. Lack of education and financial stability are seen as the reasons behind the under development. Therefore, conducting reverse discrimination practices can enable governments of different countries to protect minority groups from being overlooked completely. Thus, reverse discrimination needs to be practiced with specific numerical guidelines and measurement technique.

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  1. Aiken, J. R., Salmon, E. D., &Hanges, P. J. (2013). The origins and legacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Journal of Business and Psychology28(4), 383-399.
  2. Coston, B. M., & Kimmel, M. (2012). White men as the new victims: reverse discrimination cases and the Men’s Rights Movement. Nev. LJ13(1), 368.
  3. Eisele, K., & van der Mei, A. P. (2012). Portability of social benefits and reverse discrimination of EU citizens vis-a-vis Turkish Nationals: Comment on Akdas. European Law Review, 37(2), 204-212.
  4. Ghumman, S., Ryan, A. M., Barclay, L. A., & Markel, K. S. (2013). Religious discrimination in the workplace: A review and examination of current and future trends. Journal of Business and Psychology28(4), 439-454.
  5. Goldman, A. H. (2015). Justice and reverse discrimination. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  6. Lindsey, A., King, E., McCausland, T., Jones, K., & Dunleavy, E. (2013). What we know and don’t: Eradicating employment discrimination 50 years after the Civil Rights Act. Industrial and Organizational Psychology6(4), 391-413.
  7. Rush, C. L. (2012). Amending the Americans with Disabilities Act: Shifting equal employment opportunity obligations in public human resource management. Review of Public Personnel Administration32(1), 75-86.
  8. The Hindu, (2012). Excess reservation will cause reverse discrimination, cautions Supreme Court. Retrieved from
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