Understanding the Perseverance of Workplace Discrimination and Forging a Path to Equality


Human society has tremendously improved over the past half-century, thanks to free thinkers brave enough to speak up against the injustices they saw around them. One of these injustices was employment discrimination, wherein employers or supervisors discriminate against an employee or applicant based on race, gender, age, religion, or disability.

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) was instituted to combat workplace discrimination in 1964. Its job is to enforce U.S. federal laws that aim to prevent such situations in the workplace, and most people are aware of these guidelines.

However, personal prejudices and unconscious biases still work into play and sometimes affect a supervisor’s decisions subconsciously. In these instances, he may subtly take discriminative actions against a particular employee without knowing that he is already violating the federal laws against it. Nowadays, violence and other forms of physical aggression may not be present, but discrimination in the workplace is still very much alive.

Common Types of Subtle Discrimination

One of the glaring problems of subtle discrimination is that the victim often ignores the idea that he is undergoing discrimination in his company. In some cases, he tries to deny its existence until he is left without a job due to discriminatory acts.

  • Unequal compensation and rewards despite having the same job description – If an employee does not receive the credit due to him because of his race, gender, age, disability or religion, while another employee receives commendations for identical achievements, then that is discrimination.
  • Finding fault – If someone often gets reprimanded easily after committing simple errors, he could be undergoing discrimination. His case strengthens if a coworker makes more serious mistakes, yet the management does not seem to mind and is gracious enough to give him second chances.
  • Failure to be promoted or unfair demotion – An employee may also be battling discrimination if he is not promoted to a higher position or given a higher salary even after many years of quality service. Meanwhile, a newcomer easily gets recognition, promotion, and a better position despite lacking skill and experience.
  • Discrimination Tolerance – There are cases wherein the employee suffers discrimination among his colleagues, yet the management fails to address it and holds the responsible individuals accountable.

All these types of discrimination have one thing in common – the supervisor or manager’s actions or inactions cause the employee to suffer from discrimination. While federal laws prohibit discrimination in the employment sector, personal views and prejudices sometimes still prevail.

Fighting Subconscious Discrimination

The employee should know what to do if the employer, manager, or supervisor does not act on these injustices.

Take Notes

Not that you’re already expecting the worst, but just in case you begin experiencing unfair treatment from your superiors, it is wise to take note of every detail – what you felt, how it affected you, what measures the company took to solve it, etc. This will be your primary source of evidence, especially because modern discrimination nowadays can be difficult to spot.

Keep Evidence

Obtaining physical evidence is also important because it proves your claim that you have been subject to discrimination. This may come in letters, memos from HR, employment contracts, pay slips, etc.

Read About Anti-Discrimination Laws

Being more acquainted with the laws that protect your rights as a citizen and employee is always a great idea. Some people may tell you you’re not being discriminated against, but if federal employment laws state otherwise, you better believe the law.

Determine whether Your Company has Anti-Discrimination Polices or Not

After becoming familiar with anti-discrimination laws, you can now check your employee handbook regarding the policies that your employers have created to prevent discrimination inside the company. Most companies will have a thing or two about anti-discrimination because the law requires it. However, how these employers implement such policies distinguishes them from each other.

Report to Your Supervisors

Now that you have gathered enough physical evidence and documented those instances where you have been discriminated against or bullied, it is time to talk to your superiors about it. Some superiors may deny discriminative practices, while others will take action. If they deny it, you must move on to the next step.

Seek Legal Assistance

Seeking legal help is the only way for your claim to move forward. It can be a long process, but achieving justice is worth it. Ensure you arrange the terms with your company, forbidding any form of retaliation.

Empowerment of Discrimination Victims

The problem among victims of discrimination is they are too afraid to take a stand, primarily because they are scared of retaliation. Another reason is that they are seldom sure that they indeed underwent discrimination. This is where seeking legal counsel is important – you must learn your rights first to ensure you are going through workplace discrimination.

Remember that most companies are already aware of this, yet discrimination still occurs. So it does not matter if it’s subtle, unconscious, or ‘modern,’ the fact is that discrimination is wrong. It does not promote a culture of equality and diversity, so you should take a stand. And when you do, you’d need all the help you can get.