Examining Workplace Discrimination in a Discrimination-Free Environment

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study is to explore how racial and gender discrimination is reproduced in concrete workplace settings even when anti-discrimination policies are present, and to understand the various reactions utilized by those who commonly experience it. I have selected a particular medical center, henceforth referred to by a pseudonym, “The Bliley Medical Center” as my case study. In order to examine the gaps between the normative component instituted to regulate human behavior and the behavioral component in a workplace setting, I will employ critical race theory and feminist theories of intersectionality. The works of critics such as Delgado and Stefancic, Patricia Williams, and Patricia Hill Collins, among others, foreground the utility of storytelling as a means to 1) understand the gaps between formal policies and organizational behavior, 2) call attention to the experiential knowledge and evidence that is traditionally excluded in discrimination cases, and (3) to explain how formal anti-discrimination policies can actually be used to legitimize discrimination. Based on the results of this case study, we can conclude that an alternative interactionist, critical race, and intersectional approach is especially needed in terms of calling attention to traditionally ignored social processes that aid in the reproduction of workplace inequality in concrete workplace settings, thus expanding the current workplace discrimination scholarship.

Intersectionality, Personal Narratives, Experiential Component, Normative Component, Workplace Discrimination