Around world, critical gaps in protections against workplace discrimination


World map and workplace protections

UCLA WORLD Policy Analysis Center

The study analyzed laws and regulations governing hiring, pay, promotions and demotions, terminations and harassment among all 193 members of the United Nations.

As throngs of people around the world stand in solidarity with American protesters calling for an end to racial injustice, a sweeping study of 193 countries by the UCLA WORLD Policy Analysis Center reveals critical gaps in legal protections against discrimination on the job.

Nearly one in four countries continue to have no legal protection from discrimination at work based on race and ethnicity, according to the study, which is published in the journal Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

The researchers found that 28% of high-income countries do not have any protections, compared to 19% of low-income countries and 23% of middle-income countries.

Even in countries that prohibit discrimination, substantial gaps in legal protections exist. Globally, 51% of countries offer no protection from retaliation against workers who report discriminatory treatment based on race or ethnicity, preventing individuals from accessing justice, the study revealed.

“Discrimination at work persists across countries, but there is powerful evidence that anti-discrimination laws can make a difference,” said Jody Heymann, founder of the WORLD center and a UCLA distinguished professor of public policy, health policy and management, and medicine. “All the world’s countries have agreed to address inequality, over and over again, at the U.N. This cannot be achieved without providing legal guarantees to non-discrimination at work for all people.”

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