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What is subtle or indirect discrimination in the workplace?

Discrimination is never appropriate in the workplace. It doesn't matter if the behavior is subtle or blatant. Employers must take a firm stance against this type of behavior. This is usually outlined in company policies.

It tends to be easy to recognize blatant discrimination, which can include harassment and similar actions. Spotting indirect or subtle forms usually isn't as easy. If you think you might be the victim of discrimination based on a protected status, you should know some important points.

What is a protected class?

Protected classes are outlined in federal and state law. They are things that people can't control, such as their gender, disability, age, race or ethnicity. They also include life decisions that are fundamental rights in this country, such as religion or relationship type. None of these factors can be considered when making employment decisions. Any decisions related to a person's employment should be based on their employee record and the needs of the company, neither of which has anything to do with any protected class.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is taking adverse actions because of a protected class. This can include failing to hire or promote someone, terminating an employees, moving a person to an undesirable shift or making the workplace unpleasant for them due to their status.

One form of discrimination to note is microagression. This means that there is something lurking under the surface but nothing is actually being said or done. This indirect form may include things like comments made behind someone's back or disparaging looks from people in the company. In some cases, this is done by supervisors and executives, which makes for a volatile workplace.

How can employees prove subtle discrimination?

The Supreme Court ruled in Desert Palace, Inc. vs. Costa that employees only need circumstantial evidence to prove that discrimination occurred. Employees who feel they are being discriminated against should try to keep records of everything that happens that they feel is discriminatory. This can be something as seemingly innocent as noting whether members of a protected class are being bypassed for hiring or promotions at a disproportionate rate.

Your attorney can help you to determine what is going to help your case. Don't discount anything without discussing it first.

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