Over the past fifty years the workplace has changed dramatically, from a place of professionalism, to one where social issues are rampant. What was once being pushed into the dark corners of businesses, is now being brought out into the public eye. These issues encompass discrimination, substance abuse, and sexual harassment. Many national laws, as well as rights within the workplace were authorized in order to deal with these gregarious problems.
Discrimination has always been a major social issue, and despite man's efforts to put an end to it, there will continue to be a prejudicial outlook upon those who are different. Most everyone thinks of racial discrimination first and foremost, but there are many other "categories" by which people are judged upon. Age, gender, and handicap are three others that should be equally recognized. The refusal to hire a person based on anything other than their qualifications is a poor decision on the management part. Unfortunately, a lot of discrimination within the workplace goes undetected, or is not acted upon. Many laws have been passed in order to make employees assured of their rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1991 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. The American Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) protects qualified individuals with disabilities. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects those individuals who are 40 years of age or older. .
Another social issue that is rising within the workplace is the use and abuse of substances within the workplace. The using of drugs or alcohol at an unsafe and unhealthy level is not only harmful to the individual, but also to the business that has employed them. According to a recent study, 73% of illicit drug users are employed. This number climbs steadily every year. Drug-related problems cost U.S. companies more than $102 billion each year in lost productivity, accidents, employee turnover, increased health care costs, and absenteeism.