What Does Workplace Discrimination Look Like?

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Workplace Discrimination | 0 comments

Workplace discrimination is an unfortunate and common problem throughout America. Too often, those in power (or even those at the bottom of the totem pole) judge people and use those prejudices against their colleagues and employees in the office, the store, or other work location.

We can all read over the above statement and agree, but the problem is, many of us don’t actually know what workplace discrimination looks like, so we don’t know what to do when we see it.

We would probably all know very overt discrimination if we saw it. If someone was clearly denied access to a business lunch because of some quality he or she possessed, we’d know that was discrimination. If our boss refused to hire someone for a particular quality he or she possessed, we’d know that was discrimination. Unfortunately, those who discriminate are rarely so upfront about it. The best thing we can do is educate ourselves on who can be discriminated against and what that discrimination can look like so we can be better prepared to call it out (or take more serious steps) when we see it.

Who can be discriminated against? According to The Melton Law Firm, discrimination can be based on age, race, national origin, gender, and disability.


So, if someone in the office shows a clear unwillingness to work with older members of the company, that would be discrimination. Equally, if someone constantly disparaged women, that would be discrimination. If an office refused to make accommodations for a person with a disability who was qualified for the job, that would be discrimination.

These issues often trickle down into crucial business decisions. There could be a conscious effort not to hire those who were not born in America, for instance, regardless of citizenship status. Or, women may find themselves constantly passed up for promotions despite being the most qualified candidates. Pay may be disproportionately given out. An employer may hold a firmer line on some employee benefits with some employees and not with others.

All of these are clear examples of discrimination.

Unfortunately, much discrimination falls through the cracks and is not so overt. There can be a general sense of discrimination in a workplace culture without there being obvious actions that can be picked out. Awkward silences when those who represent a particular group walk into the room, an unwillingness to make certain people comfortable at work, a general hostility towards one group or another communicated through allusions and subtle jokes.

These actions can make a workplace toxic for individuals and whole groups without ever quite reaching the level that a lawsuit could address.

More needs to be done to avoid obvious acts of discrimination, as well as the subtle, inhospitable acts as well.

Everyone has the right to go to work and be treated fairly. We all must do more to make that a reality for everyone.

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