Discrimination In The Workplace – What You Need To Know

Any kind of prejudice by an employer that ends up as unfair treatment of an employee can be described as discrimination.

In this article we look at the four main types of discrimination in the workplace and provide examples of each.

We also let you know what steps you can take, if you believe you are a victim of discrimination.

Examples of Discrimination In The Workplace

As the world becomes a smaller place a blend of ages, sexes and cultures is now commonplace in todays modern workforce, whereas 20 or 30 years ago this may not have been so prevalent.

Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination is when an employee is treated in a lesser or different manner, because of their race.

Example of Racial Discrimination

Tiffany & Company was recently sued by a group director for what was described as..

systematic, nationwide pattern and practice of racial discrimination

The complaint also pointed to the fact that out of 200 management positions representing the Tiffany brand, only one was African-American, Michael McClure (The plaintiff).

To sum up a long story Mr McClure, for several reasons, was under the impression that he was being unfairly treated because of his race.

He filed a lawsuit – the end result of this case appears to be that it was settled by both parties, neither of which wanted to comment any further.

Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) only forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. It does not protect workers under the age of 40, although some states do have laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination.(ref)

Example Of Age Discrimination

Just a few months ago CNN was sued for a combination of age and race discrimination by a Former Producer.

Stanley Wilson had been with CNN for 17 years before he was dismissed.

Prior to his dismissal one of his superiors Peter Janos had made comments to him in regards to stepping up his work load to keep up with the younger men.

Stanly felt that this was clear discrimination, or in his own words it “..reeked of age discrimination.”

We have yet to hear on the outcome of this case, however watch with interest.

Gender Discrimination

Sexism or gender discrimination is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender. (ref: Wikipedia)

Example of Gender Discrimination

Betty Dukes made history when she claimed sex discrimination against Wal-Mart in 2000. Her claim was that even though she had been working there for six years and her performance had received positive reviews she was blocked from advancement to a higher salaried position.

She included in her claim 1.6 million women whom either worked for, or had previously worked for Wal-Mart

Apparently Wal-Mart would not allow her to take the training that the higher position required.

After more than a decade in and out of court on June 20, 2011 Wal-Mart received a favorable ruling from the Supreme court due to the decision that the plaintiffs did not constitute a class, due to not having enough in common.

Religious Discrimination

Religious discrimination is when you treat or value an individual (or a group ) in a different manner because of their beliefs. ( ref wikipedia )

Example of Religious Discrimination

There has been a recent case of a muslim woman who applied for a job at Abercrombie & Fitch Co clothing store. She was refused the job with the reasoning that the scarf violated the appearance policy that was in place for sales staff.

There is some confusion over whether Samantha Elauf should have asked for a religious accommodation.

This has recently gone to the US Supreme court and no outcome has yet been decided upon.

If you want to follow the case a ruling is expected by the end of June 2015.

The case name is EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-86.

How To Report Discrimination

If you are an employee you can file a charge at your closest EEOC office. To find the office nearest to you click here.

There is also an online assessment tool that you can use, to see if your case is one that EEOC can deal with.

If you are a federal employee or job applicant there is a different process. You can find the information here.

Videos and Resources

Recognizing Discrimination In The Workplace

Key takeaways from the video

Ask yourself if you are a member of a protected class? e.g Race, Gender, Religion, Age, Disability

discrimination infographic


Rob StGeorge
Co Founder of RateMyCompanyUSA.com

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