Discrimination continues to plague American workplaces. Those who are subjected to this discrimination can face severe ramifications, including demotion, pay cuts, and even termination, not to mention the emotional toll that is typically taken on these individuals. Yet, even though workplace discrimination is pervasive in the American workforce, the truth of the matter is that many people struggle to identify discrimination where they work.
What constitutes workplace discrimination?
Workplace discrimination can take many forms, and it can arise at any point in the employment process. It’s imperative that you know how to spot signs of workplace discrimination so that you can take corrective action when needed, which may include legal action. Therefore, it’s wise for you to be aware of each of the following red flags of discrimination in your place of work:
- Inappropriate interview questions: Employers usually seek as much information as they can about prospective employees during the interviewing process. As a result, employers oftentimes go too far and ask questions that are discriminatory in nature. Questions about whether a woman intends to become pregnant and questions about a person’s age or ethnicity, for example, can be indicative that discrimination is occurring in the hiring process.
- Harmful communication: We all have disagreements in the workplace. However, if you’ve been subjected to demeaning communication and inappropriate comments and jokes that are tied to your status in a protected class, then you may have a strong argument that you’ve been subjected to discrimination.
- Unfair discipline: Employers should implement a disciplinary system that is consistent and fair. In instances of discrimination, though, the discipline that is handed down is oftentimes disproportionate to the behavior in question and is inconsistent with the discipline that has been given to other employees. Remember that these disciplinary actions may be the first step in your employer trying to set you up for termination.
- Unwarranted promotions of others: As mentioned above, workplace discrimination can occur at any point in the employment process, including promotions. If you feel like you’re the most qualified candidate for a promotion but are passed over for someone who is less qualified, then you may want to investigate further to determine if there was any discriminatory motivation behind the promotion. You may want to look at the diversity of those in higher positions, too, to see if that is also indicative of discrimination.
- Unjustified reduction in hours: Instead of firing an employee, some employers try to drive an unwanted employee to leave. They often do this by reducing an employee’s hours or reassigning him or her to undesirable shifts. Again, if this has happened to you, then you should closely analyze the situation to see if there was justification for your employer’s actions. If there are no justifications, then you may want to consider whether discrimination was the driving motivator.
- Lower pay: Discrimination also presents itself in pay disparities. If you’re being paid less than your coworkers despite having similar levels of education and experience, then you should start asking questions.
Building the legal claim that you need to protect your interests
Although workplace discrimination is common, it shouldn’t be acceptable. Yet, the burden is on employees to raise discrimination-related issues and pursue legal action when warranted. Doing so is the only way for you to find accountability, protect your career, and recover the compensation that you deserve.
It can be a daunting process, for sure, but you can make the process less stressful by being fully prepared and gathering all the evidence that you need to strongly support your position. If you think that you could use some assistance in doing so, then now may be the time to discuss your case with an experienced employment law advocate.