10 Best Movies On Workplace Discrimination To Watch Now

10 Best Movies On Workplace Discrimination To Watch Now

Workplace discrimination is much more common than you think. Even after reformations in the laws and constitutional policies around the world, it seems that the numbers have still been increasing. To understand better, let’s first look at the past developments in the law sector concerning such discrimination in the power head, the United States, and our home country, India. Moreover, we will discuss the 10 best movies on workplace discrimination for further insight.

Congress approved the Civil Rights Act in 1964 after over 2,50,000 people marched in Washington D.C. under Martin Luther King Jr. and several other Black leaders. The racial discrimination faced by these people on a daily basis had become intolerable and hence the move was taken. The aforementioned act paved the way for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The data by EEOC suggests that workplace discrimination filings have been reducing since 2016. However, the issue still seems to be a part of the entertainment industry.

In India, the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976, allows several rights and benefits to the employees at their workplace. However, women still seem to face gender discrimination in the workplace but this issue doesn’t find generally doesn’t find its way into the country’s entertainment industry or pop culture.

That was too much technical knowledge for a list of movies, isn’t it? Now, let’s take a deep dive into the list right away.

10 Best Movies on Workplace Discrimination

It gets really interesting when movies include courtroom dramas. However, the topics addressed also play a vital role. In the west, workplace discrimination fairly dominates that sector. The following list contains movies about workplace culture and the toxicity that comes with it. Now, let’s take a ride from the 1980s to the present with such kinds of movies and their concepts.

1. 9 to 5 (1980)

With a run time of 109  minutes, 9  to 5 focuses on a trio of women who set out on a mission to take revenge from their egoistic, sexist, hypocritically bigot, and liar boss. The three actresses cast for the movie were Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton. The initial part of the film focuses on the trio’s boss (played by Dabney Coleman) addressing them as dumb and also demanding them to carry out petty chores on the behalf of him. In addition, his actions are sexually inappropriate most of the time. Further, to make the matter worse, he prefers to promote an under qualified male employee in place of one of them. The severe atrocities faced by the trio surely make this movie a great start for the list of movies on workplace discrimination.

The tables then turn as the trio devises a master plan and takes over the company. They make several changes to the means of working that include an equal and fair work environment for the workers. These alterations make the company even more successful. Jane Fonda, who played one of the trios, also served as a woman activist and inspired the concept of the film from a real-life incident. In Boston, a group of women established a safe space to publicly share their grievances about the male-dominated ecosystem.


2. Working Girl (1988)

Working Girl depicts how women not only face discrimination by men but also by one another. The movie’s concept was totally different from the popular belief of men being the sole reason for discrimination against women. The movie has a run time of 113 minutes and stars Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in pivotal roles. This is one of the movies on workplace discrimination to be a commercial success due to its out-of-the-box storyline. Further, it was nominated for six Academy Award categories.

Working Girl shows how the female boss (Weaver) takes the credit for an idea her employee, Tress McGill (Griffith) had thought, leaving the latter bamboozled. For avenging the misdeed, McGill decides to portray herself in a fictitious manner in order to get the accolades she always deserved. The entire film showcases how women’s education levels and class lead to distinct opportunities, which make them realize the way they should behave to move forward in the male-dominated setup. This often results in unfair treatment by them towards each other due to the subconscious developments in their character. This unusual theme makes it one of the most interesting movies to watch.


3. Jungle Fever (1991)

The movie was the fifth feature film directed by Spike Lee and had an all-star cast. The movie has a run time of132 minutes and casts prominent names such as Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson, Queen Latifah, Ruby Dee, and Halle Berry. Jungle fever narrates the tale of Flipper Purify (Wesly Snipes), who was a married Black architect fighting against several dissatisfactions in his life. He then started having an affair with Angie Tucci (Annabella Sciorra), an engaged white woman.

One of the main reasons for Flipper’s discontentment was the discrimination he faced at the workplace due to his skin color. He was the only Black in his company, which makes things even worse. His breaking point was when he was not promoted as a partner due to his race. This incident takes place just after a conversation wherein his boss denotes that the promotion and hiring process is based on merit and not one’s skin tone. This ironic representation of the issue makes it one of the best drama movies Hollywood has.


4. Gattaca (1997)

Directed by Andrew Niccol, Gattaca is a sci-fi film that is set in an imaginary world where eugenics is an extensively popular practice. Here, there are two types of humans: a designed human (a valid) and a naturally born human (invalid). One’s place in society was determined by the type of birth process undergone. This interesting concept places it almost at the apex of the list of movies on workplace discrimination one should consider.

Ethan Hawke plays the role of Vincent Freeman, who is an invalid and is restricted from getting the high-skilled job he aspires to. However, the situation gets better for him when he takes the help of a valid criminal played by Jude Law. the valid was no longer able to perform his duties and functions for which he was ’designed’, therefore, Vincent takes up his valid identity to work on a space mission. His achievements in work and other aspects of life surely leave a thought in the viewers’ minds that whether our genetic identity should determine the work we do or not. The movie was a box office flop but definitely is something worth watching due to its iconic representation.


5. The Circle (2000)

The Circle is an Iranian movie that gives close insight into the disgusting discrimination of women in male-dominated settings. With a run time of 90 minutes, the movie focuses on a group of women, who have spent a long time in jail for crimes that are still unknown to people. However, there are clear indications that suggested most of these offenses were trivial. This is one of the movies about discrimination faced by women that even focuses on prisoner life and the hardships along with it.

An interesting bit of the film shows that a nurse refuses to perform the abortion of one of these women. This was because she feared associating with them would bring forth her own dark secrets from the past which would affect her marriage and career negatively. This snippet suggests that ex-convicts can’t make it to success if their past is known to their employers. Our society should consider jail as a place of reformation and should accept the prisoners once they are released. However, in reality, they are often denied fundamental rights and even equal employment opportunities.


6. Phir Milenge (2004)

There are not many Indian movies that highlight workplace discrimination, therefore, this is the only Indian movie that made it into this list. Phir Milenge, directed by Revathi, is an adaptation of Philadelphia. With a run time of 125 minutes, the movie focuses on Tamanna Sahni (played by Shilpa Shetty) who works as the creative head of one of the top advertising agencies called T.J. Associates. All was going well until she got infected with the HIV virus and was expelled from her position abruptly.

When she asked for the reason for termination, she was given a vague answer to that. Infuriated by the injustice faced, she decided to file a complaint against the company and did so. However, no lawyer was ready to take up the case until she met Tarun Anand (played by Abhishek Bachchan)  who initially rejected her case but then took it up. He fights the case diligently and finally earns a win for Tamanna who then starts her own business enterprise and becomes successful. 

The movie was not a commercial success but is worth watching due to the unique plotline and stellar performances by Shetty and Bachchan. Along with various nominations and awards, the film also earned the First Commercial Film on AIDs award by MTV Asia Awards.


7. Made In Dagenham (2010)

With a run time of 113 minutes, Made in Dagenham is set in the late 1960s wherein a bunch of women factory workers work at the Dagenham plant of the Ford Motor Company. They demanded that sexual discrimination should be eliminated from the workplace. The strike performed had acquired an immense amount of public attention that even led to the Equal Pay Act, 1970, being passed. This is one of the movies on workplace discrimination that shows a huge impact on society due to the moves undertaken by exploited employees.

This movie emphasizes that it is possible to reform society with adequate efforts at the right time. However, the movie fared badly at the box office and didn’t earn any awards even after being nominated for 16 categories at various award shows. In contrast, the film garnered an IMDb rating of 7.1, which is considered fairly decent and implies that one can give it a try if feminism is a topic they believe in.


8. Hidden Figures (2016)

A historical drama, Hidden Figures, encompasses the lives of a group of Black female mathematicians who are employed at NASA in the 1960s. Living in the South brought in a pool of discrimination that they experienced on a regular basis. To make the situation worse, they were even banished to another building due to their dark skin color. They were forced to walk about half a mile to go to the ‘colored’ bathroom and even had to make a petition in court for attending classes that were essential for career developments.

The twist in the tale comes when these women overcome all these barriers or obstacles and become highly successful and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) becomes the first Black female engineer in NASA. In addition, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Butter) emerge as the research mathematician and supervisor, respectively. Together these women ascertained the path or route for undertaking NASA missions that include the first orbital space flight and landing on the moon for the very first time. The movie is highly inspirational but also depicts how difficult it was to succeed in the mid-1900s for the people who faced racism.


9. Sorry To Bother You (2018)

This black comedy aims at highlighting the privileges whites get in terms of career and workplace environment. Sorry to Bother You focuses on a young Black telemarketer, played by Lakeith Stanfield, who is forced to adopt a white accent so he could gain success at work.

While eating the cake of his success he is distraught to find the underlying wrongs in the corporate world. He finds out that he was just being exploited in order to fulfill his employer’s ultimate goal of ruling the entire world. This shows that even then he didn’t get success but was actually a puppet in the superior’s hands. This unanticipated twist makes the plot different and one must give it a watch. This is one of the workplace movies on Netflix one should surely check out.


10. Mad Men (2007-2015)

We know you are scrolling through a list of ‘movies’ but here is a little surprise element for you, a T.V.show that has a similar concept to that of the movies on workplace discrimination. Mad Men is a critically recognized period drama, which focused on men working at New York’s Madison Avenue. 

Though the show primarily focused on these, there were several plotlines that highlighted the plight of the women in the industry. The types of discrimination they faced included underpayment, overwork, sexual objectification,  and denial of promotions. These factors restricted their career growth.  It is a treat to watch this show with multiple plotlines and how beautifully they are webbed together makes it even more appealing.

In addition, to the above-mentioned list, you should also consider watching Out At Work, which is a discrimination documentary based in the office. It focuses on a chef who faces discrimination in the workplace due to their sexual orientation.

IMDb Ratings and Metascores

For better decision-making, people should always consider ratings. Therefore, here are the IMDb ratings and metascores for the movies on workplace discrimination (and a show) we mentioned above. One thing can surely be ascertained that all these movies are worth watching since all have decent or even better ratings on one of the most trusted platforms, IMDb. However, personal choices are different and you should go for the one whose plot excites you.

Movie Name
IMDb Rating
9 to 5
Working Girl
Jungle fever
The Circle
Phir Milenge
Made In Dagenham
Hidden Figures
Sorry to Bother You
Mad Men

Bottom Line

Movies are often a source of entertainment but it gets better if we learn something from them. Therefore, the movies on workplace discrimination are the ones to go for if one wants an insight into the corporate world’s negativities. However, it is not always that these instances take place in reality, so one should not make a negative perception about the sector. Further, these movies are entertaining too because of the unique plotlines and screenplay, and will definitely provide a wholesome experience. So, don’t forget to check out the ones listed in our article.

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Tanmay Murthy

When it is about entertainment news, you have to depend on Tanmay Murthy. If movies, webseries, and events are your cup of tea then you will have to follow him.

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