Because of the definition of discrimination in the workplace, which revolves around an employee or prospective employee receiving subpar treatment based on their protected characteristics, there’s often the thought that it only applies to hiring and firing practices. This is not the case. When an employer, supervisor, or co-worker treats an employee unfairly because of their age, skin color, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or disability, they are committing an act of discrimination.
Being discriminated against in the workplace can make for a miserable experience. Employers need to understand that they have a legal obligation to treat all employees fairly. If that legal requirement is not met, they can be held liable for their actions or the actions of their other employees. You may be wondering if the mistreatment you’ve experienced is discrimination. We’ll go over how to know you’ve suffered from discrimination, common examples, and the effects.
Knowing When You’re Being Discrimination Against
There are two types of discrimination. The first type, direct liability discrimination, happens when an employer promotes an organization of discrimination from the top down. It’s likely a number of individuals will suffer from this, and it can be easier to prove because of that. The second type, vicarious liability discrimination, is more difficult to prove because there’s often a lack of concrete evidence. This is because it tends to happen when an employee discriminates against another employee.
Discrimination can be direct, indirect, intentional, or unintentional. It can even come in the form of an offhand comment or joke that may seem harmless to the perpetrator. There are a number of signs you may be dealing with discrimination. The most common include the following:
- Inadequate Discipline. If an employer is discriminating against an employee, they may discipline them unfairly or criticize their work too harshly. This may be done to create a paper trail that leads to termination. The negligent employer may think that this covers their tracks.
- Fixed Roles. When a company acts discriminatorily there may be fixed roles in the workplace. For example, if managerial positions are only held by men while the women remain in secretarial roles, even though there are those that qualify and have applied for a higher position, this could be a sign of discrimination.
- Lacking Diversity. If a company consistently hires people of the same race, gender, age, or sexual orientation while other individuals are applying, intentional discrimination could be happening.
- Demeaning Communication. The way a supervisor speaks to employees can play a big factor in discrimination. If an employee is consistently belittled or offensive jokes are made, the supervisor should be held accountable for their actions.
- Negatively Inconsistent Workload. When an employer discriminates against one of their employees, they may take away key responsibilities from their job description or give them tasks that are impossible to compete. This is typically done to have the employee fired.
Workplace Discrimination Examples
As mentioned, discrimination can come in a number of forms. Some employees may not realize they’re being discriminated against because they’ve dealt with similar situations their entire lives. If you’re skeptical about the treatment you’re receiving, our lawyers can examine your case and determine if you should pursue a legal claim.
In regard to the common examples of discrimination in the workplace, we’ll discuss a few scenarios:
- New mothers may be discriminated against prior to taking maternity leave or after returning to work. For example, say a woman has been working for a company for over a decade. While six months pregnant, she applies for a senior position that has just opened up. Even though she had more experience and qualification, she was not selected for the position. When she questioned her boss, they said they were looking for someone who could be dedicated to the position.
- Individuals with disabilities are also discriminated against. Employers are required to provide accommodations for employees and prospective employees with disabilities. If an employee who requires a wheelchair completes the same tasks as their coworkers but discovers they are making less money, discrimination can be proven.
- Prospective job applicants with ethnic names that reveal their ancestry may not receive a call back about a job they are fully qualified for if the employer is discriminatory.
The Effects of Discrimination in the Workplace
Employees who are being discriminated against may have to deal with one or more of the following effects:
- Denial of retirement options
- Denied disability or maternity leave
- Loss of shifts
- Denial of company benefits
- Favoritism when issuing promotions
- Denial of employee compensation or benefits
- Exclusion of candidates from the hiring process
- Inappropriate jokes or comments that cause stress.
If you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace, your employer has violated the Civil Rights Act – which covers hiring, promotion, referrals, and all other aspects of employment. To hold them accountable, you can file an employment law claim. Our lawyers will work with you to build a strong case that proves you were wronged.
It can be intimidating to go up against an employer, but it’s important to remember it’s often in your best interests. To learn more about how we can help you with your employment law matters, schedule a free consultation with our lawyers today. Workplace discrimination can make many forms.