Understanding Employment Discrimination: A Multilevel Approach



This paper reviews recent research on employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, and ethnicity in US work establishments. Unlike blatant discrimination of the past, contemporary discrimination is typically more subtle, often unintentional, and develops in relationship to the social context in which it is embedded. Focusing on this covert and dynamic nature of discrimination, we review recent research that identifies factors at the individual, workplace, and societal level that contribute to variation in sex and race discrimination across employment contexts. At each level, we conceptually distinguish between factors that influence employers’ sex and race biases and factors that affect potential victims’ capacity to identify discriminatory experiences at work.