Workplace Discrimination – Defined
Workplace discrimination occurs when an individual or a group of individuals is treated unjustly or unfairly because of their individual or group of individuals’ distinctive traits. Race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, handicap, sexual orientation, religious views, and national origin are all protected qualities under the law, as is the national origin. When it comes to discrimination in the workplace, it might take place among coworkers, among job candidates, or even between employees as well as their employers. Discrimination, whether on intention or by mistake, is prohibited by law, regardless of the motivation.
Organizations that work to combat discrimination
A lot of us may be unaware of our legal rights and safeguards. All protected traits, in general, are covered by one or more of these anti-discrimination statutes which are why there have been several laws and organizations that aim to protect employees from employment discrimination, including the following:
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the EEOC
The EEOC is the federal agency charged with safeguarding employee rights wherein the majority of businesses with more than 15 employees are protected by EEOC law. The EEOC can examine complaints of workplace discrimination. They address a variety of employment concerns, including hiring, promotion, leave, compensation, and termination.
Office of Civil Rights or the OCR
The Office of Civil Rights, or OCR, is responsible for all matters including health information, civil rights, including religious liberty, and they, also educate communities, social workers, as well as other professionals on privacy and civil liberties issues.
State Labor Office
Each state has its labor department and while they are all bound by federal law, particular state legislation may differ.
Common Types of Workplace Discrimination
There are many different types of workplace discrimination, all of which are centered around the protected traits listed above. Federal legislation particularly protects a number of these types of property. These are some examples:
Discrimination based on race
It is against the law to treat a job candidate or employee unjustly because of their race or any other associated qualities. Additionally, color discrimination, which is defined as when a person has been treated unfairly due to their skin color or appearance, is illegal.
Discrimination based on religion
If an employer treats employees unjustly or unfavorably based on their religious views and practices, the employer violates the law. Company policy requires them to offer reasonable accommodations for workers who require more time or space to exercise their religious beliefs or to access other facilities to do so.
Discrimination based on disability
According to the ADA, also known as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, it is unlawful to discriminate against eligible job hopefuls or current workers. Employers are not permitted to refuse to recruit handicapped individuals, pay them an unfair salary, or refuse to provide reasonable accommodations to a person who is otherwise qualified to fulfill a specific function in the workplace. Disability is also covered under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which forbids discrimination in government employment in addition to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Discrimination against pregnant women
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which was passed in 1978, protects employees, job seekers, and pregnant parents who are not expecting a child. Employers are required to treat pregnancy in the same manner as they would treat a transitory sickness or other non-permanent condition under the terms of the law. There is no way for you to be fired, denied a job advancement, or have your compensation cut just because you are having a kid.
Discrimination based on age
Employers are prohibited from indicating age preference in job descriptions, internships, or other corporate papers, such as promotion requirements, under the terms of age discrimination regulations. Employees above the age of 40 are protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) which in effect, makes companies forbidden from discriminating against employees based on their age when providing perks, salary, or incentives.
Gender-based and sexual orientation-based discrimination
The Equal Compensation Act of 1963, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, are just some of the several laws that safeguard people’s rights in order to receive equal pay for labor. According to these rules, “whether jobs are equivalent” is determined by the nature of the work rather than the title. A job posting or description that expresses a preference for one sex or gender over another is also prohibited.
Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people
In 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that an employer that terminates an employee solely because he or she is homosexual or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Denial of equitable compensation, employment, or workplace benefits based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is also against the law.
How to spot workplace discrimination
Recognizing employment discrimination is difficult. It’s the type of thing that you may sense long before you can name it — and even longer before you can document and verify it. Hostile workplace conduct is frequently dismissed as “harmless,” “joking,” or unintentional — and in some situations, it is. However, one may argue that persistent “harmless, inadvertent” activity becomes purposeful at some time.
Here are several subtle examples of employment discrimination:
Diversity-deficient workplaces are almost always guilty of discrimination on some level even if they may not want to be and that is because the evidence of the pudding is very much in the eating. When individuals do not feel welcome, they leave. If your work environment is attracting just a specific type of individual, investing in a DEI consultant or a qualified employment attorney may be worthwhile so it is only a matter of time before one or the other becomes necessary.
Are you noticed that when people disrupt the status quo or speak up, they don’t appear to have a job for much longer? Employers that enable discriminatory or abusive behavior frequently do so through intimidation of potential whistleblowers. If you’re considering speaking up but are being “encouraged” not to, that indicates that something is wrong with your company.
Inappropriate remarks or language
What is considered regular talk at your place of employment? Would you be OK with the CEO listening to or publishing your conversations online? Would you speak in the same manner in front of a recruit or investor? If your workplace’s banter has to be cleaned up, you may seek to exclude the incorrect comments totally from the dialogue.
Is it customary for your employer to ask personal inquiries unrelated to your job? Have you ever encountered such peculiar questions during an interview? While some personal queries are harmless, your employer or prospective employer may not have your best interests at heart. They may be attempting to justify not offering you the position or showing their ignorance.