The context of discrimination: Workplace conditions, institutional environments, and sex and race discrimination charges

C. Elizabeth Hirsh, Sabino Kornrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article explores the organizational conditions under which discrimination charges occur. Drawing on structural and organizational theories of the workplace, the authors demonstrate how organizational conditions affect workers' and regulatory agents' understandings of unlawful discrimination. Using a national sample of work establishments, matched to discrimination-charge data obtained from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the authors examine how characteristics of the workplace and institutional environment affect variation in the incidence of workers' charges of sex and race discrimination and in the subset of discrimination claims that are verified by EEOC investigators. The findings indicate that workplace conditions, including size, composition, and minority management, affect workers' charges as well as verified claims; the latter are also affected by institutional factors, such as affirmative action requirements, subsidiary status, and industrial sector. These results suggest that internal workplace conditions affect both workers' and regulatory agents' interpretations of potentially discriminatory experiences, while institutional conditions matter only for regulatory agents' interpretations of those events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1394-1432
Number of pages39
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Volume113
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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