Last week, you were passed up for a promotion again, even though you’ve done the work to deserve it. You find this strange but continue with your job. Now, a few weeks later, you find out in passing that you’re not making the same salary as someone else in a similar role.
Hang on, that doesn’t make sense. A question crosses your mind, but you struggle to believe it: are you experiencing workplace discrimination?
You very well may be. There are many types of workplace discrimination, some of which you might not have heard of.
If you think you are a victim of discrimination at work, read through this guide. It will help you determine whether you are and what you can do about it.
What Is Workplace Discrimination?
Workplace discrimination is the unfair treatment of individuals belonging to a certain group. Typically, discriminatory acts occur within policies or decisions. For example, the decision not to promote someone because they are over 50.
These acts can also include harassment and other inappropriate behaviours. Discrimination and harassment are often used interchangeably. But workplace discrimination typically targets all individuals within a certain group or demographic.
Harassment, on the other hand, is inappropriate, unsolicited behaviour. It is usually connected to a person’s race, gender, age, or station. This is why it’s considered a type of discrimination.
If you’ve experienced the following types of discrimination at work, take action. You have rights and your rights deserve to be upheld.
Types of Workplace Discrimination
It’s important to recognize the signs of workplace discrimination. Below are several of the most common workplace discrimination examples. Read through them to see if you’re experiencing any in your own workplace:
Age discrimination is, unfortunately, a common form of discrimination at work. Often, it may start with quips about an employee’s age or abilities. An employer may make remarks about their hearing, vision, or energy levels.
Additionally, they may start to feel pressured to retire. Their boss may bring it up in passing. They may notice that more of the older employees are being asked to move on or are being bought out. Younger employees may be coming in left and right.
Age discrimination usually targets employees over the age of 50 but can start as early as 40 in some places. Certain companies may avoid hiring older workers to maintain a young, trendy culture.
These are all signs that a company may be discriminating against people based on age. If you suspect you may be the victim of age discrimination, write down each incident as they occur.
Keep a log of what you’ve noticed. Include whether you’ve missed out on performance bonuses. Or whether your well-earned promotion was given to a younger colleague who under-performed.
Racial discrimination occurs through the unfair treatment of members of a particular race. Racial discrimination can happen to anyone. Even those married to someone of a certain race can experience discrimination.
Negative comments and verbal harassment are one sign that discrimination is taking place. Another is if you and others of your race are avoided at company functions or uninvited entirely. If you notice that there aren’t any people of a particular race at your company, that may also be a sign.
It’s important to take racial discrimination seriously. You may not be the one suffering from it but may notice that others are. If so, make sure you take note of what you see and speak up about it.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees from racial discrimination. But if you feel you are experiencing it at your own workplace, do not hesitate to reach out to a qualified attorney.
If you have a limited ability to walk, see, hear, or breathe, you have significant impairment. This means you may qualify for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Discrimination against your disabilities may range from subtle signs to outright acts.
Refusing to put in ramps or other assistive structures could be one sign. Hearing derogatory comments or seeing offensive visual references to your disability or others.
When you interview for a job, ask about policies for employees with disabilities. Ask about accessible parking, entrances, and bathrooms.
Have they ever hired someone with a disability? If so, they are likely intentional about how they approach those employees.
However, if you’re in a place where you are experiencing unfair treatment, bring it up to your employer. Keep a log of what you’ve experienced. If they’re unwilling to acknowledge it, consider finding a workplace discrimination attorney.
Gender and Sexual Orientation
A common form of workplace discrimination targets specific genders and sexual orientations. For years, it wasn’t unusual for women to receive less pay than men for the same work. If you expect this is the case at your workplace, know that the Equal Pay Act protects you.
If you receive threats based on your gender or sexual orientation at work, take note of them. Report them to supervisors and consult a lawyer if things progress.
If your team burdens you with irrelevant tasks or overlooks you for a position because of your gender, consider taking it up with a professional. It never hurts to reach out and confirm whether your suspicions are true.
Similarly, pregnant women can also experience discrimination. A common issue that comes up is being passed over for employment because of pregnancy. Employers may not want to onboard a new employee who will be taking maternity leave soon after.
You may also have different physical needs while pregnant. Or perhaps you developed a medical condition during or after pregnancy. These are all issues for which you may experience unfair treatment.
Your rights are defined and protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. When in doubt, do some more research to determine whether you are experiencing unfair treatment.
Political or Religious Beliefs
Finally, you may experience discrimination for your beliefs. When it comes to issues of politics, you may not be protected from discrimination.
Federal law has no mandate discouraging selection bias against political views. But some state laws do. Be sure to check what the laws are in your home state and seek action if necessary.
For other beliefs, you have certain rights. As a member of a certain religion, you may adhere to certain manners of dress. Your employer cannot discriminate against that. So if you wear certain clothes or keep your hair a certain way for religious reasons, you are within your rights.
Other Types of Discrimination
Be aware that these are just a few of the many types of discrimination you can face at work. You may also receive unfair treatment because of your position. Upper-level employees may treat you as inferior if you’re in an entry-level role.
You may also face discrimination due to your ethnicity or country of origin. Even your genetic information or family situation may put you at risk! Though most types of discrimination are illegal, the practice persists.
That being said, many workplaces value fairness and equality. They work hard to ensure a zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination.
How to Handle Workplace Discrimination
Whenever you suspect unfair treatment at work, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself: was it truly unfair? Were you passed over for a promotion you deserved? Or did someone else perform better than you last year?
Was that question about retirement discrimination? Or was your boss simply curious? Be honest with yourself and objective in your evaluation.
If you do feel like an experience was discriminatory, it’s always a good idea to write it down. Create a table that logs the day and time of each incident, as well as who was involved and what was said or done. Put in as much detail as you can.
If you experience unfair treatment based on any of the above, bring it up to your supervisor. If your supervisor is the one behind it, go one step above them. Get the incidents on record.
If your supervisor or theirs confronts the source and there is no change, try again. If your colleagues are unwilling to take the matter seriously, you may need outside assistance.
Many attorneys specialize in unfair and illegal treatment at work. Don’t know where to start? Get in touch with this workplace discrimination attorney.
You Deserve Fair Treatment
These are just some of the more common types of workplace discrimination. No matter what your background, ethnicity, or situation is, you deserve to be treated fairly at work.
Never hesitate to log any experience that seems to be targeted at your gender, race, or background. Ask others in your workplace whether they’ve experienced anything similar. And most importantly, get help before things get serious.
Check out our business section to read more about your rights in the workplace.