Status of Discrimination in the Workplace in India

by  Adv. Rupa K.N  




3 mins


Discrimination in the workplace


  • Everyone has the right to work, and they can choose to do so in a safe atmosphere. It is widely acknowledged that the right to work is a fundamental one, and it is comparable to the right to life. 
  • Employment that is profitable is essential for these rights to be satisfied in a country where a huge number of people are deprived of any financial resources aside from labor.
  • One of the main causes of poverty is unemployment. Working freely disproves that due to the presence of high-end discrimination in the workplace. 

What is discrimination in the workplace?

In accordance with ILO Convention No. 111, discrimination is described as any “qualification, prohibition, or inclination made on the ground of race, color, political opinion, religion, sex, social origin, or national extraction, etc the result of eliminating or limiting fair opportunities and treatment in work or occupation.”

48% of Indians, according to a survey, have experienced discrimination in the workplace. The majority of biases are based on caste/religion (18%), age (22%), and gender (25%), respectively. Employees in Delhi, Pune, and Chennai saw the highest rates of prejudice, while those in Ahmedabad experienced the lowest rates. Surprisingly, just 30% of the polled businesses claimed to have a formal anti-discrimination policy.

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What can be the basis for discrimination in the workplace?

While some forms of discrimination, such as fair pay, sexual harassment, and discrimination based on a person’s pregnancy or handicap, are prohibited in India. Other forms of job discrimination, such as those motivated by caste, religion, or ethnicity, are not prohibited in the private sector. However, in the public sector, employees are also protected from discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, color, sex, religion, or place of birth in addition to the protections afforded to those working in the private sector.

Discrimination at work can take many various forms. It may be motivated by a single factor or by a number of factors together. Workplace discrimination may take the following forms:

 1. Qualification

 2. Age

 3. Sex 

4. Incapacity

5. Being pregnant 

6. Country of origin

7. Race or color

8. Religion 

9. Sexual misconduct

10. Compensation or equal pay

11. Regional or national origin

12. Social class

 13. Ethnicity

What are the legal protections available in case of discrimination in the workplace?

A number of clauses in the Indian Constitution offer its citizens certain fundamental rights, including the right to equality to prevent discrimination in the workplace against any person. 

  • Equality before the law is guaranteed by Article 14.
  • The state is not allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth, according to Article 15.
  • According to Article 16, the state is given the authority to make exceptions for members of underprivileged social strata when it comes to hiring for positions.
  • The Constitution also establishes a number of fundamental obligations that, while they cannot be contested in court, should ideally be carried out by the government. 
  • Part IV of the constitution Article 39 calls on the state to guarantee that people’s rights to appropriate means of subsistence, housing, food, and employment are equal for men and women.

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Major types of discrimination in the workplace prevalent in society

  1. Disability-based discrimination in the workplace– Disability discrimination occurs when an employer or other organization treats a qualified disabled person who is an applicant or employee negatively because of their disability. This unfavorable behavior can be seen in hiring, compensation, promotion, etc. India pledged to promote, preserve, and uphold the rights recognized in the U.N. convention on the rights of people with disabilities by becoming a party to it. India has passed The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, as part of its commitment to safeguarding and protecting the country’s disabled citizens.
  2. Remuneration-related discrimination in the workplace– The payment of the employee’s compensation, which includes their salary, overtime pay, bonus stock options, life insurance, and other perks, may also be discriminatory.
  3. Discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex– The act of discriminating against an employee or potential applicant on the basis of their sex is known as sex-based discrimination. In the areas of hiring, working conditions, promotion, benefits, and assigning work responsibilities based on staff gender, sex discrimination may be present.
  4. Pregnancy as a ground for discrimination in the workplace– When a pregnant woman is denied employment or is fired from a company after disclosing her pregnancy, these actions constitute discrimination.
  5. Discrimination in the workplace on the basis of caste– Caste discrimination is one of the forms of prejudice that affects about 18% of the workforce in India. According to the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955, anyone who moles, injures, annoys, boycotts, obstructs, or insults a member of the Scheduled Caste may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of at least one month and up to six months, as well as a fine of at least one hundred rupees and at most five hundred rupees.

So, these are some of the major types of discrimination in the workplace prevalent in India. 

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It is safe to state that even while there isn’t a general law to handle discrimination in the workplace and compensate victims, the checks, balances, and penalties outlined in the aforementioned statutes do give firms a real incentive to treat all employees equally. 

An anti-discrimination policy that outlines the organization’s commitment to equality and specifies a procedure for handling any complaints to the contrary is advised for all organizations. An employer is suggested to include discrimination as a ground for a breach of the employment agreements

The problem has gotten worse because the legislature has been unable to take decisive action to eliminate discrimination in the workplace. The basis for discrimination in the workplace is still severely compromised, and women’s rights and the advantages of scheduled and backward castes are ignored. The judiciary should continue advancing the case for substantive equality in the absence of strong administrative measures.

An employee has been vested with some rights against discrimination by the law of the land. To know more about the rights of an employee take advice from a Constitutional Lawyer .

Adv. Rupa K.N

Adv. Rupa K.N


5 | 277+ User Reviews

Advocate Rupa K.N, with over 24 years of independent practice, specialises in providing legal expertise, advice and guidance to a broad range of customers. Having been practising law independently for several years after doing her B.A. LLB from Bangalore University and PGDM from the National Institute of Personnel Management.

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