Survey: Half of Workers Say They're Victims

January 18, 2002 ( - Minority and white employees continue to have different work experiences despite widespread efforts to tackle office diversity issues, according to a new survey.

The survey by Rutgers University and the University of Connecticut found that 28% of African-Americans and 22% of Hispanics said they had been victimized by workplace discrimination. That compares with 6% of whites, according to the survey.

“It’s deeply troubling that the majority of minorities in this country feel they are not being treated fairly at work,” said Carl E. Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development and co-director of the survey project. “They certainly feel they’re being treated vastly differently than whites. “

Results show that 50% of African-American employees believe that they are the most likely ethnic group to be treated unfairly at work. This compares with 10% of whites and 13% of those lumped into a category of “other races,” who feel that African-Americans would be most likely to face bias.

Workers: Boss Ignored Me

Most minorities polled said their employer-ignored complaints of being treated unfairly. Fifty-seven percent said their employer did not respond in a prompt or satisfactory manner regarding such complaints as being passed over for promotion, being assigned undesirable tasks, or hearing racist remarks.

Van Horn said he hopes business owners use the findings as a wake-up call about the need to address discrimination.

It’s particularly telling, he said, that only three of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies have African-American CEOs.

“Achieving fairness in our workplaces is really essential for having a society and an economy that works well,” Van Horn said. “We cannot afford to have an aggrieved, dissatisfied, and corrosive working environment. We need a recommitment to treating people fairly.

The survey, titled “A Workplace Divided: How Americans View Discrimination and Race on the Job,” is the latest in a series of public research projects. Findings are based on a random, scientific sample of 1,003 workers interviewed between September 28 and October. 18, 2001.