According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), workplace discrimination has declined in recent years. While this trend is encouraging, discrimination based on gender and race does, unfortunately, still occur.
Knowing the signs of gender and race discrimination will help you recognize when such discrimination occurs in your workplace.
What is Gender Discrimination?
The EEOC defines gender discrimination as “treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of that person's sex, including the person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy.”
Refusing to hire or promote individuals based on gender is the most obvious form of sex discrimination. Often, workplace discrimination based on gender results in all management and upper-level positions filled by men while women are relegated to administrative roles.
Refusing to approve time off for pregnant women or those who have recently given birth while approving such requests for employees with other medical reasons is another example of gender discrimination. Another example is refusing to hire or promote LGBTQ individuals.
What is Race Discrimination?
According to the EEOC, race discrimination is “treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because he/she is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features).”
When an employer only hires or promotes employees of one race, applies harsher discipline to certain races, or distributes fewer assignments to employees of a particular race, workplace discrimination based on race occurs.
It is important to note that race discrimination also involves discriminating because of a person’s marriage to or involvement with a particular race. Discrimination can occur between individuals of the same race.
Signs of Discrimination
Keep an eye out for the indicators of gender or race discrimination listed below.
Inappropriate Interview Questions
If an employer asks questions related directly to race or gender during the interview process, that is a red flag for workplace discrimination.
Sometimes discriminatory questions are less direct. For instance, asking a woman about her “likability” during an interview is subtly sexist. Any questions that are not asked of a man or a member of another race is inappropriate and signifies that this may be a discriminatory workplace.
Another clear sign of workplace discrimination is paying equally qualified employees of one gender or race less than employees of another gender race for the same work.
Many employers try to ban employees from discussing their pay rates with one another. This practice is illegal. Employees have the right to compare their pay to detect workplace discrimination.
Discriminatory workplaces will often refuse to promote employees of a particular gender or race. Suppose you apply for a promotion and a less qualified or more poorly performing person of a different race or gender receives the promotion. In that case, it is a strong sign of workplace discrimination.
In discriminatory workplaces, individuals of a specific gender or race may receive harsher punishment for the same infractions committed by other employees.
Often, individuals of the race or gender the employer favors will not face any consequences for the same infractions. This disparity in treatment qualifies as workplace discrimination.
Discriminatory employers often hold individuals of a specific gender or race to different standards than they hold other employees, requiring more or higher quality work. Usually, an employer uses this tactic to create a paper trail to justify terminating an individual because of gender or race the employer disfavors.
Requiring different standards of behavior or performance from employees based on race or gender is clear-cut workplace discrimination.
Inappropriate communication constitutes another sign of workplace discrimination. Using loaded language such as racial or gender slurs, making inappropriate racist, sexist, or heterosexist jokes, or making demeaning comments about a particular race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity are all examples of discriminatory workplace communication.
Even if directly racist or sexist language is absent, employers may discriminate by using harsher communication styles toward individuals because of gender or race they disfavor.
Discriminatory employers often attempt to retaliate against employees who report race or gender discrimination in the workplace. They may try to terminate an employee, reduce pay, or assign fewer hours to a whistleblower.
This form of retaliation is illegal and should be immediately reported.
Legal Help for Workplace Harassment
If your employer engages in any of the behaviors listed above, you have witnessed workplace discrimination.
You can report these instances to the HR department of your workplace. If this does not achieve results, you can file a report with EEOC.
If harassment does not stop or if you are suffering retaliation from reporting workplace harassment, an employment attorney may be able to help. Employment attorneys focus on protecting you from discrimination, sexual harassment, wage violations, and more.
The employment attorneys at Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, bring together our knowledge and insight to construct a strong case for our clients and maximize any future settlements. Thanks to our teamwork and extensive familiarity with both state and federal employment laws, we can take on essentially any employment law case for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.