Have you experienced discrimination in the workplace or noticed somebody else being treated unfairly? Even if you don’t have personal experience with discrimination, it’s important to be aware of how it can impact people in the workplace.
Discrimination is more common in the workplace than many of us would like to think. Thousands of discrimination reports are filed by employees every year and this is likely an underestimation of the total number of discrimination cases across the country.
Many employees are too scared to speak up about discrimination and they’re worried about the repercussions of reporting a colleague. As a result, they stay silent and allow the discriminatory behaviors to continue and the employer-employee relationship is disrupted.
How Common is Discrimination in the Workplace?
According to Harvard Public Health, over half of black Americans have experienced discrimination relating to pay and consideration for promotions and almost a third of women say that they have been discriminated against when applying for jobs.
Other statistics show that 61% of US employees have experience discrimination in the past based on either their age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. Workers between the ages of 18 and 34 are most likely to experience discrimination in the workplace, and so are those above the age of 55.
Even if an individual doesn’t experience ongoing discrimination, a surprising 70% of the American workplace say that they have experienced bullying or prejudice at some point in their careers.
What is Discrimination?
Discrimination is the unfair treatment of an individual or group of individuals because of one or more of their protected characteristics or identities. Protected characteristics include a person’s:
- Gender identity
- Gender reassignment
- Cultural beliefs
- Religious beliefs
- Marriage status
- Military status
An employee can be a victim of discriminatory behaviors because of one or a combination of several of the protected characteristics listed above.
Discrimination can be a one-off incident, such as if a member of the LGBTQ+ community is not offered a job based on their sexual orientation. However, it can also be an ongoing issue, where an employee is treated differently in multiple areas of the workplace because of their protected characteristics.
The Negative Impacts of Discrimination
Both employers and employees can experience discrimination in the workplace in a number of forms. Discriminatory behaviors involve any form of verbal abuse or physical actions that are carried out with the intention of harming an individual.
Discriminatory behaviors can harm victims physically, emotionally, and socially. It can severely impact their abilities to interact with others in the workplace and complete their work-related tasks.
The longer an individual is exposed to discrimination, the worse their health and productivity can become. Tackling discrimination as soon as possible will minimize the negative long-term impacts that it has on the victims.
How to Prevent Discrimination in the Workplace
Anti-discrimination policies are highly effective at preventing discrimination in the workplace. However, they aren’t 100% effective and discrimination is still prevalent across the country.
Most employers implement a set of anti-discrimination policies to protect their employees and encourage them to report any negative behaviors that they experience or witness. They will file a warning against any perpetrators to put a stop to the discrimination.
If discriminatory behaviors continue after a warning has been issued, legal action may be necessary. An HKM discrimination attorney can help the employer or employee to create a strong case and take the issue to court.
If they win the case, the discrimination victim may receive compensation. The perpetrator may get moved to another department in the workplace or could even lose their job.