Discrimination at Work

Most of us have experienced some sort of discrimination at work whether we realized it or not. This type of behavior can take many forms and can come from all levels of an organization from front line employees to CEOs.

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There are many kinds of discrimination and part of combating these issues is recognizing that they exist and knowing what to look for. Here are some of the common types of employment discrimination disputes and how their prevalence has changed the work place. 

Age Discrimination

A prominent form of discrimination that many people face (and that is becoming more prevalent as the popular ages) is age discrimination. Traditionally this happens when older workers (65+) are singled out in the work place. They may be chosen first for layoffs, not hired during the interview process because of their age, or steered to less important parts of the company because of how old they are.

Age discrimination is hard for older workers to recover from especially if they've been unemployed for a prolonged period of time. Part of the reason for that is the new protections that older workers enjoy as a result of discrimination. Employers do not want to be caught (either in reality or in perception) discriminating against older workers so they avoid hiring them in the first place.

Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

Another issue in the public eye is the openness of gay and transgendered individuals in society. Whilst some may see a new issue, people from these protected classes actually just feel more freedom to express themselves and we are seeing that openness on the employment landscape.

It is illegal to discriminate against someone based on their gender or sexual orientation. Despite that fact, this type of discrimination can be more pervasive and harder to detect.

After all, it is against the law to ask people about these traits during the interview process leaving recruiters and hiring managers to make their own assessments.

Other Forms of Discrimination

Other common forms of workplace discrimination include biased treatment because of ones' religion, race, marital or familial status, and even based on consumer credit reports. Treating workers differently or poorly based on these characteristics has created huge amounts of tension in the hiring and recruiting world.

People who are trying to follow the rules often feel like they are stepping on egg-shells at every turn. Those who are ignoring beneficial rules on hiring are likely targeting the weakest members of the population who cannot afford to fight back.

How Have These Laws Changed Things?

It was not always the law that employers were forbidden from discriminating against workers. Now that statutes are in place to protect workers, there is a tendency for employers to avoid impropriety at every turn which sometimes hurts workers more than it helps them.

For example a small business owner may be reluctant to hire some people they know are a part of a protected class even though they have no intention of treating them poorly. That's because if the person does not work out for whatever reason (not related to age, sex, race, religion, or any of that), the employer opens themselves up to liability.