The definition of workplace discrimination can make it seem like it’s easy to spot. After all, the “unfair treatment of employees based on prejudices” can refer to an employer refusing to hire, demoting, segregating, or firing someone based on their appearance or another protected class. Yet the reality of most workplace discrimination cases is that they aren’t obvious at all. Instead, discriminatory behaviors and practices pervade a workplace quietly, in ways that make employees question if it’s really discrimination at all.
Workplace discrimination can take many shapes and forms. It could be blatantly sexist questions during a job interview or firing someone when he or she turns 50. Discrimination can also, however, be less blatant to coworkers and even the victim. Learning how to recognize all types of workplace discrimination can help you stand up for your rights. Three examples of non-obvious discrimination are as follows:
Your employer asking you to take specific tests (e.g., a reading and writing aptitude test) that your coworkers don’t have to take and losing your job for medical or disability reasons are also examples of workplace discrimination that may masquerade as “normal” business practices. Any time an employment action feels inappropriate to you, trust your gut. You could be the victim of workplace discrimination.
Many employers will go to great lengths to conceal discriminatory practices or keep them under the radar. Others might not even realize their actions are discriminatory if they don’t fit the mold of threats or intimidation. It’s up to you, the employee, to stay vigilant and recognize signs of workplace discrimination – including those that aren’t obvious. Here are a few common signs of an employer that’s guilty of discrimination:
It can be difficult to detect subtle forms of discrimination that are not blatant threats or intimidation. If you feel that an employer or coworker is discriminating against you, even if you don’t have hard evidence, investigate the situation. Work with your human resources department, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and a workplace discrimination lawyer to find out if what you’re experiencing qualifies as workplace discrimination. If so, you could be eligible for restitution.
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