The 3 Most Common Types of Workplace Discrimination (and How to Spot Them)

Many Americans spend a good portion of their careers searching far and wide for a company or work environment where they feel safe, comfortable, and respected. Hostile work environments and employers that excuse inappropriate behavior contribute to the perpetuation of a problem for employees of all ages, races, genders, and backgrounds.

Workplace discrimination is demeaning, degrading, and can take a toll on an employee’s mental health and productivity. Understanding the different kinds of workplace discrimination and how to spot it when it happens is crucial for anyone wanting to continue improving their career trajectory.

Read through this comprehensive explanation of the different types of workplace discrimination and learn the right actions required to advocate for yourself during this difficult experience. Workplace discrimination attorneys like MSB can also fight on your behalf if more significant issues requiring litigation or arbitration arise.

The Damage of Workplace Discrimination

Members of minority races, ethnicities, age groups, genders, religions, sexual orientations, and other identifying organizations or characteristics can all experience discrimination in their everyday lives and in the workplace, too.

You’re probably already familiar with the word discrimination, but what does it mean when discrimination occurs in the workplace? Employment discrimination entails any actions, language, or behavior that aims to exclude or treat an employee differently or less favorably than other individuals in the organization.

Federal and state laws protect specific groups of individuals that face employment discrimination at a higher rate. In the United States, you may not be discriminated on the basis of your:

  • Race/ethnicity/color
  • Nationality or place of origin
  • Gender or gender identity
  • Sexual orientation and preferences
  • Age
  • Religion
  • Political affiliation
  • Disabilities
  • Mental illness
  • Pregnancy or other necessary medical leave

Although there are stringent anti-discrimination laws in place to protect American workers, it’s impossible to force every person in the workforce to comply. Business owners, managers, and even your own coworkers can perpetuate the problem of employment discrimination. Some of the most typical actions and language attributed to discriminatory behaviors in the workplace include:

  • Target jokes or comments
  • Harassment
  • Sexual and physical assault
  • Unfair treatment or policies
  • Refusal to allow reasonable accommodations for employees
  • Demotions or shifting to part-time hours
  • Wrongful termination
  • Forced resignation or retirement
  • Favoritism amongst employees
  • Getting overlooked for open positions when qualified
  • Discrimination based on pregnancy, medical leave, or other chronic conditions
  • Retaliation

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects employees facing discrimination in the workplace. Even if you think some minor discriminatory jokes are no big deal, it’s best to report these behaviors in writing to a trusted supervisor or human resources department so they can do their due diligence.

Retaliation, Too

Reporting instances of workplace discrimination takes a lot of courage on the part of an employee. From mom and pop shops to billion-dollar big box corporations, companies of all sizes can try to cover their backsides by using retaliation.

Retaliatory actions in the workplace can look a lot like discrimination, but these behaviors happen for a very different and very specific reason. Unlike discrimination, which is typically due to identifying characteristics, retaliation in the workplace comes after reporting issues to the higher-ups.

Suppose you notice that your hours have been cut after reporting discrimination, or you’ve been passed up for a promotion as the most qualified individual in the office. In that case, there is a good chance your employer is retaliating against you. Working with an experienced employment discrimination lawyer will be the best way to hold your employer accountable for both discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.

3 Common Types of Discrimination in Today’s Modern Workplace

The severity of discrimination can range from small, seemingly innocent comments in passing all the way to wrongful termination or worse. Discrimination and retaliation can do a lot of damage to anyone’s career, so it’s crucial to keep an eye out for signs of this issue, no matter how big or small.

Whether you’re looking to seek compensation through litigation or want to find alternative dispute resolution options, the right employment discrimination attorney can explore every suitable avenue for your unique situation.

Below, we explore the most common types of employment discrimination American workers face and how to handle these problems properly:

1. Gender

The fight for equal pay in the workplace for every gender has been ongoing for decades. Gender discrimination can be extremely degrading for anyone, and swift action must be taken after experiencing this prevalent workplace issue.

The EEOC protects a range of gender identities and expressions, including:

  • Male
  • Female
  • Transgender
  • Non-binary
  • And more

Discrimination due to gender expression often impacts women and gender-nonconforming individuals. If your work environment feels like a “boys club” and makes it difficult for women and other gender identities to advance, you’re likely experiencing employment discrimination.

Look at how your employer treats women and transgender individuals. Do you often feel disrespected, disregarded, or overlooked during office meetings? Do male coworkers have a higher salary than their female counterparts? There’s a good chance your employer is displaying gender bias in the workplace.

Contact an experienced gender discrimination attorney to determine the best course of action for your circumstances. You may be eligible to seek damages from your employer due to discrimination or retaliation. Gender-bias can have a big impact on your income, so it’s best to work with an expert employment discrimination attorney to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

2. Race and Ethnicity

Another significant issue contributing to creating a hostile work environment is discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color, or origin. A good litigator will advocate for your civil liberties after experiencing racism and other forms of discrimination in the workplace.

There are several things to watch out for when you feel you’re being discriminated against due to your race or ethnicity. Targeted jokes, stereotyping and profiling, and being passed up for promotions despite your qualifications can all indicate racial discrimination.

Take a look at your organization’s diversity levels? If leadership lacks people of color, women, and other minority groups, it’s a great gauge of how you’ll be viewed and treated in this environment.

3. Age

Age discrimination is another common kind of workplace discrimination targeting a protected group. The EEOC guarantees fair and equal treatment in places of employment for individuals over the age of 40. Your employer cannot force you into retirement or discriminate against you due to old age. As long as you continue contributing positively to the workplace, your rights as a senior worker are protected in America.

In contrast, younger employees can also experience workplace discrimination. Signs of age discrimination against younger individuals include dismissing good ideas, demotions, shift changes to a part-time schedule, and being passed up for open positions.

Don’t let your employer treat you like a child or force you out of the company because of your senior age. Contact a high-quality law firm in your area to explore your legal options after experiencing age discrimination in the workplace.

Looking for a Legal Advocate

Facing employment discrimination alone can be a difficult task for any type of person. Employees often fear taking action against their employer after discrimination due to the commonality of retaliation after reporting. Finding the right attorney to advocate for you throughout this experience will make navigating your legal options much more manageable.

Dealing with discrimination in the workplace is daunting, but with a trusted lawyer on your side, holding your employer or coworkers accountable for their actions can be a positive experience.
Contact MSB to learn more about our “unfirm” approach to every unemployment discrimination case. We can get you the compensation and respect everyone deserves from their work environment. Don’t let discrimination in the workplace slide; work with MSB Employment Justice today to have peace of mind as you take on this inexcusable issue.

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Bree Johnson

Bree Johnson

After more than a decade in the legal industry and BigLaw firms, attorney and activist Bree Johnson saw an opportunity to do more for employees who are mistreated in the workplace with a career move to representing employees and plaintiffs. See Full Bio

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