What is Injustice?

Keith Koons

By definition, an injustice is whenever a set of rules is interpreted in a way that fails to deliver a fair verdict. While this term is generally applied towards legal proceedings within a civil courtroom, it is also applicable to any type of situation where an absence of justice is present. This could encompass anything from a dispute over labor practices to situations involving fraud, discrimination, or unfair punishment.

Justice is supposed to be an impartial and objective process.
Justice is supposed to be an impartial and objective process.

The most common type of injustice normally occurs within a business when an employee feels that the regulations were not enforced as dictated by law. In this type of situation, a grievance would be filed internally within the company so that the employer has a chance to rectify the problem. At this point, the claim of injustice would be researched by the corporation and either validated or dismissed depending on the evidence that is present. If the complainant feels like the grievance was not handled properly, legal counsel may be sought to seek further legal action.

If an accused person was handled improperly during an arrest this could lead to the trial being dismissed.
If an accused person was handled improperly during an arrest this could lead to the trial being dismissed.

Injustices can also take place within criminal trials or during the incarceration of an inmate. For example, if an accused person was handled improperly during the actual arrest or if any cruel and unusual punishment is alleged, it could result in the ensuing trial being dismissed completely if the treatment can be verified. In this situation, the prosecution and any victims involved may feel that the ruling is an injustice, but technically, it would not be wrong as long as the governing rules are applied to the situation. Acquiring proof is normally the largest aspect of any injustice situation because it is often comes down to one person’s word against another’s.

Just because civil litigation is not sought does not mean that injustice has not occurred. In fact, the vast majority of these types of situations go unreported over fear of retaliation or further unfair treatment. This in no way means that the injustice is not a violation of local laws or regulations, nor does it imply that the victim is content with the situation. Failure to report an injustice simply means the complainant accepts the unfair treatment.

By the same token, there are also many cases where reports of an injustice are frivolous. This may occur because of a misinterpretation of the law or it may be an outright case of attempted fraud. Businesses spend millions of US Dollars (USD) defending such claims each and every year, most of which are settled outside of a court room. Fabricating an injustice is punishable by law in many territories and provinces.

A conviction based on circumstantial evidence is an example of an injustice.
A conviction based on circumstantial evidence is an example of an injustice.

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Discussion Comments


@burcinc-- We were talking about this in class the other day. Our instructor was talking about how in some countries, giving bribes to government officials to get certain things done is completely acceptable. In fact, in these cultures, it's called gift-giving and is a show of gratitude.

Clearly, that's not how we see bribery in the US. We see it as an injustice where people don't do their jobs ethically and some people in society benefit over others.

It does make it difficult to have a global concept for justice. But maybe we need to be more open-minded and concentrate on more important human rights as you said. People not having access to food, clean water, health care and freedom of speech is a much bigger injustice than bribery in my view.

What do you guys think?


@ddljohn-- Those are some good points and I do agree with you. We all have our ideas about what justice should be like. But it's left to the government to put that into place through laws.

I also want to touch on the fact that what justice means can be very different in different parts of the world. What we take to be injustice in America, may be acceptable in another country. So how do we go about this?

I think the best way to determine and fight injustices is through the human rights declarations made by various international organizations. Otherwise, we can't have a single notion about what justice means in the world.


I think injustice is a very broad term. We all experience injustices, whether it's in our relationships with other people or because of institutions or companies and their failure to follow the law. At the same time, injustice, can be subjective unless it has been proven legally.

The one time where I really felt that I was treated unjustly was when I was working at a restaurant in high school and suffered a work injury. I was young, in need of money and didn't do anything about the fact that the company I worked for failed to have me treated for my injury.

I regret not having taken them to court at that time. I couldn't afford a lawyer, but I do wonder if there had been something else I could have done.

There must be many people like me who fail to report injustices because they don't know if they will succeed, or don't know how to go about it. I guess it all goes back to the government. Maybe the local, state and national government institutions need to do more to make sure people know their rights. We need more opportunities to seek justice. Justice should not depend on whether we can afford a lawyer or not.

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