Discrimination in employment may be based on sex, religion, race, nationality, age, sexual orientation, disability, or other factors. While policies regarding such discrimination vary from country to country, even in those countries which outwardly forbid such practice, covert discrimination may be couched under such terms as 'distinctions', 'exclusions' or 'preferences'.
Inequalities of opportunity and treatment may arise either from deliberate acts of discrimination or from passive situations resulting from economic, social, cultural or geographic factors. Groups affected include aboriginal and tribal populations; those occupying specific backward regions; different ethnic groups; different religious and linguistic communities; and foreign workers. In some cases minorities are alleged to practise discrimination against the majority. Very often this discrimination is not so much a matter of fact as one of feeling.
Women are notoriously discriminated against both in opportunity and pay; mandatory requirement is age discrimination; foreign workers often receive low-pay, low-status jobs; members of some religious sects may be discouraged from applying for certain positions; and in the USA, AIDS victims are currently battling what they view as discriminatory hiring and firing policies.
Although anti-discrimination legislation exists in Russia, in Moscow in 1992, sexist and ageist job advertisements were reported to be commonplace. A new brokerage house published announcement seeking woman ages 18-21 for secretarial position and applicant were told to come to the interview wearing a mini-skirt. An advertising firm requested that applicants for a receptionist position submit a full-size photo, preferably one showing them in a bikini.