What You Need To Know About Discrimination In The Workplace And Why It Matters


Discrimination is a large part of the workplace, whether you are aware or not. Discrimination generally comes in two forms: overt and covert. Overt discrimination includes any action displaying prejudice against someone because of their race, color, religion, Gender (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older for fair labor standards act purposes) disability, citizen status or participation in any government assistance program. For example if your employer was to openly make fun of another employee because he was African American that would be considered overt discrimination. Covert discrimination refers primarily to policies which appear neutral on their face but have discriminatory impact; it can also include policies that appear discriminatory but are justified by business necessity. An example of covert discrimination would be where an employee’s performance evaluation was significantly lower because she took time off work for medical reasons. The employer would have to show that the employee’s performance would not have suffered if she had been able to work and that her performance did suffer and thus justified a poor evaluation and possible termination.


  • In America it is estimated that about 100 million individuals suffer from some form of disability, which makes up one-fifth of the US population as a whole. About 9 percent of those disabled adults are currently employed, compared with 69 percent of those who do not have disabilities (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • There are laws that protect certain classes of employees from being discriminated by their employers. These groups include race, creed color religion national origin older than 40 for fair labor standards act purposes disability relation to veteran parent status citizenship participation in any government-funded projects domestic abuse status marital status genetic information orientation pregnancy association with Vietnam era veterans furloughed employees really discharged employees public charges individuals related to alcoholism and the use of drugs.
  •    There are five areas which an employer can discriminate in: hiring, wages, promotions and training termination benefits. Also, it is illegal to retaliate against a person who has filed a discrimination charge, opposed or participated in any way in an investigation or charge.


  • The effects that employment discrimination has on society as a whole include the loss of valuable talent and ability that may be needed to maintain national security and public safety. If employees start feeling like they’re not welcome because they belong to one group over another then there’s less likely to be full loyalty which will result in an unstable workforce; resulting in less productivity, motivation and eventually lower economic output.
  •    Discrimination of any kind is neither cost effective nor beneficial to the particular company hiring the individual who has engaged in discrimination since it means that they are not making full use of talent which is available to them at their fingertips. A prime example of this would be an employer seeking an African American male for a positioning in higher costs for employers as well as lower productivity levels. With discrimination comes a higher cost for employers to fill positions as well as less productivity because employees will feel discouraged and if left unchecked it can lead to lost morale or even a revolt.


  • Recognize that discrimination of any kind is a crime and grounds for termination from employment. •   If you believe you have been discriminated against at work contact an attorney immediately to discuss your particular situation.
  • Make sure all job applications, hiring procedures and workplace policies are designed without bias so as to not discriminate in the future.
  • Conduct seminars through your organization regarding discrimination to remind employees about their legal obligations as well as what constitutes illegal discrimination including harassment and retaliation for filing charges or participating in investigations into discrimination claims.
  • Provide training for all employees to include managers, supervisors and human resource professionals on how to identify potential discrimination claims.
  • Investigate any claim of discrimination thoroughly; preferably by conducting interviews with all parties involved or by allowing the individual who has filed the complaint to tell their side of the story.


If an employee feels that they have been discriminated against it is important to contact a lawyer to discuss your particular situation and how you can get damages for wrong doing.


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