You have probably heard the use of the word “discrimination” before, but do you know what it really means? And if so, do you know how it applies to you in the context of your employment? According to an employment discrimination lawyer from Dave Albo, by definition, to discriminate against another person means to treat them differently in a less favorable way for a protected characteristic. This can happen while someone is at their workplace, school, or a public area. A person may be discriminated against by their co-workers, managers, teachers, friends, coaches, or business owners.
By law, people are protected from employment discrimination due to their race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, genetic information, and age. There are other laws that protect someone from facing discrimination while they are attending school. Examples of conduct that the law protects people from include:
- Harassment for a protected characteristic
- Unfair treatment for a protected characteristic
- Denial in receiving a reasonable workplace accommodation due to your disability or religious beliefs
- Improper questions or disclosure of medical background or genetic information
- Retaliation for filing a complaint about discrimination, or assisting with a discrimination case
Discrimination in the workplace is a sad reality and many people go to work every single day and are the victims of unfair conduct. Discrimination may not always be obvious either, and it can leave many workers wondering if this is really happening to them or if they just are imagining it. Because we are not taught about what discrimination looks like in the workplace and what exactly our protections are, it can leave us vulnerable to suffering from discrimination, and not just once, but repeatedly.
Employees may fall victim to offensive jokes and remarks in the workplace. Some may be inclined to brush it off and not worry about it, but eventually realize that such behavior is directly at their expense and because of a personal protected characteristic. An employee may also notice that there is a lack of diversity in the workplace, which may point to hiring practices that foster discriminatory habits. If you see that everyone you work with fits into a specific kind of profile, it could mean that discriminatory hiring practices is the culprit. Have you noticed that people tend to get stuck in a role? Managers may show favoritism to employees and not others, in addition to denying advancement and promotions to those who are qualified to receive them. Uncomfortable interview questions could indicate that an employer is discriminatory, hiring people based on personal qualities instead of their professional qualifications.
We all have been in a workplace where people have been less than friendly, but is hostility considered discrimination? The laws do protect people from adverse treatment due to a protected characteristic, however, just plain rudeness may not be enough to have a case. A lawyer can investigate the situation and find out if there is sufficient grounds for filing a discrimination lawsuit.