Discrimination in the workplace is not just a big or small business problem. It exists in pretty much all kinds of workplaces. Regardless of the circumstances, it is important that you understand how to identify incidents of discrimination because it can affect you and your career in different ways.
Workplace discrimination occurs when an employee is treated less favorably than others based on their background or certain personal features that put them in a protected class. For example, discrimination can take place because of your race, your religion, your national origin or your gender, among other things. Knowing the common signs of discrimination in your workplace can help you protect yourself.
Here are three common signs of workplace discrimination that you should recognize:
Inappropriate personal questions
During the interview process, it is normal for a potential employer to ask questions that will help them know you better. However, certain questions can go beyond what an employer is legally allowed to ask during or after the interview process. Questions touching on your race, age, religion, orientation and family status could amount to discrimination.
Sometimes, all it takes is a single glance at the structure of your organization to identify incidents of unfair promotion. For instance, are managerial roles only occupied by employees of the same gender or role while the rest of the employees remain in junior roles? Were you passed over for a promotion in favor of someone less qualified but younger? Those both can be telling signs of discrimination.
Offensive jokes or comments
Sometimes, you may experience “jokes” or comments that appear to target you. While these may be passed off as lighthearted humor that was never meant to hurt anybody, they can sometimes qualify as discrimination. Comments that clearly put you in an “other” category, like a supervisor referring to Black employees as “you people,” can also be signs of discrimination.
Workplace discrimination is never acceptable. If you believe that you’re being treated differently than your co-workers for some discriminatory reasons and your boss or human resources department is no help, it may be time to explore your legal options.