7 Common Types of Discrimination in the Workplace

July 8, 2022    Civillawyers
7 Common Types of Discrimination in the Workplace

Types of Discrimination in the Workplace


Workplace discrimination occurs when an individual or a group of people are treated unfairly or unequally due to certain characteristics. Such protected characteristics include ethnicity, gender, race, age, identity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or country of origin. There are various types of discrimination in the workplace.


Discrimination in the workplace can occur between coworkers, employees, job applicants, or between employees. It can be purposeful or by accident, but discrimination is illegal. Some people also hire lawyers to fight against discrimination.


Difference between Discrimination and Harassment?


Discrimination happens when you are treated differently in the workplace as you belong to a different or protected class. You are treated unfairly and poorly because of who you are and how you are perceived.


But harassment can be unpleasant and unwanted behaviour. It can be something that is said, written, or also a form of physical contact. The offender or culprit is usually deliberate in their conduct, creating a hostile environment.


As per the Australian government, harassment can include the following:


  • Distasteful jokes
  • Ridicule
  • Insults
  • Threats
  • Physical assaults


Harassment can also be sexual and may include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, or sexual or physical contact. After an environment becomes hostile or unwelcoming, harassment becomes illegal. It can also be illegal to fire, demote or retaliate against the target for not being able to put up with it.


Types of Discrimination that Can Occur in The Workplace


There are different kinds of workplace discrimination, which usually revolve around protected characteristics. Some of these are protected by federal legislation, and they involve:

1. Race discrimination

It is considered illegal when an employee or a job candidate is treated improperly or unfairly due to their race or other characteristics. Colour discrimination can happen when an individual is treated unfairly due to their skin color, which is prohibited.


2. Religious discrimination

In terms of workplace discrimination, it is not legal for an employer to treat their employees differently or unfairly due to their religious/spiritual beliefs. Companies and organizations must make reasonable accommodations for employees who require space, time, and other amenities to observe their religious practices.


3. Disability discrimination

Under a specific disabilities act in America of 1990, it is illegal to take action against job candidates or employees who are qualified. Employers cannot refuse to hire any disabled candidate, pay them unfair wages or deny accommodation to them for a specific role.


Other than the disabilities act, disability is also protected by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which can prohibit discrimination in any federal employment.


4. Pregnancy discrimination

The PDA or Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 can help to protect jobseekers, employees, and non-delivering expectant parents. As per the law, employers need to treat pregnancy the same way they handle other non-permanent conditions or temporary illnesses.


People cannot be fired, denied a job or promotion, or their pay reduced as they are expecting a child. This law is beneficial for those who are pregnant with a child.


5. Sex and gender discrimination

Different laws, such as the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 1964 or Equal Pay Act, 1963, protect individuals’ rights to receive equal pay for work. Under such laws, the content of the job and not the title can determine if the jobs are equal.


It is also considered illegal to specify the preference for a certain gender or sex for a job posting or description. It is not good to discriminate against someone based on their sex or gender.


6. LGBTQ+ discrimination

As per the Supreme court of Australia, if an employer fires a person for being transgender or gay, they will violate Title VII of the Civil Right Act. It can also be illegal to deny employment, workplace benefits, or fair benefits based on sexual orientation; Tips to choose employment lawyer can help in such cases.


7. Age discrimination

Age discrimination laws can prevent employers from specifying different age preferences in job descriptions, internships, and company documents, such as promotion criteria.


The different age discrimination or employment acts can protect employees who are above 40. The firms are also warned not to deny benefits, compensation, and incentives based on the age of employers.


How Do You Identify Discrimination in the Workplace?


It is not easy to recognize discrimination in any workplace. It is the thing that you need to experience or feel before you can pinpoint others. More time may pass before it can be documented and proved.


With regards to workplace discrimination in Australia, hostile behaviour is often passed off as joking, united or harmless. Sometimes a case that is said to be harmless or unintentional can no longer remain that. Some examples are:


1. Lack of diversity

Workplaces that lack diversity are often guilty of discrimination on some level, even if they do not mean to be. This is because there already tends to be some form of evidence; when people do not feel welcomed, they do not stick around for long.


If your work environment attracts only a specific kind of person, then you might need to invest in a DEI consultant. Employment lawyers can also be hired as it is only a matter of time before you hire their services.


2. Retaliation

When people tend to speak out, they often lose their jobs. If you witness outspoken employees losing their jobs sooner than later, then it is not a good thing.


Workplaces that allow abusive and discriminatory behaviour also intimidate the workers or employees from speaking out. If you want to speak up against abusive behaviour but are not encouraged to do so, then there is something wrong in your company.


3. Offensive language or comments

You need to know what is a normal conversation in your workplace and if you feel comfortable listening to your CEO. You must know if you talk the same way in front of a new hire or another possible investor.


If you feel that your workplace has offensive language and needs to clean up its banter, you must drop such comments entirely from any type of conversation.


4. Improper questions

If your employer regularly asks inappropriate questions that are not related to your role or are asked odd questions in an interview, your employer might not have the best intentions in mind. They might be looking for reasons not to offer you the job or expose their own ignorance.


How Do You File a Discrimination Complaint?


You can file workplace discrimination claims via your state department of labour. The steps below can help transfer your complaint to the right agency.


1. Collecting information

You will be required to provide the name, address and phone number of both the individual being discriminated against and the company against whom you are filing the complaint.


However, you will benefit greatly if you have the contact number of any witnesses to the unfair treatment or abuse. This is one of the first and crucial steps in filing a discrimination complaint.


2. Document the experience

Your complaint needs to have a complete account of what occurred. You must include the name and details like date, time and location. For you to establish harassment, you will need to show that the contact and behaviour were continuous and unwanted.


3. Submit the important information

You need to submit the account of the incident to the company. You are not required to submit a special form or referral to submit your complaint. You can simply reach out to your state’s labour office.


4. Initiatives that You Can Take to Promote a Healthy Work Environment

It is not easy to prevent discrimination in a workplace; it might be confronting and turbulent work. This is especially if your existing workplace does not have good habits, mindsets, and practices.


But it is worth doing so, and both financially and legally, a discrimination lawsuit or filing a lawsuit against your employer will be bad for your company. It also creates a bad working environment that doesn’t benefit anyone. Some of the initiatives to create a healthy workplace are:


5. Take a look at your hiring practices

If people from your organization come from one walk of life, you must change it to make your company feel more welcoming and lessen the chances of discriminatory behaviour.


You can restate the commitment of your company to be inclusive despite any background or disability in the job descriptions. You need to represent diversity among the interviewers and source candidates from a multitude of backgrounds.


6. Reward and promote individuals who deserve it

Due to fear of workplace discrimination in Australia, many people from under-represented backgrounds fear succeeding in their careers. When there are bad practices and discriminatory behaviours, the chances of such individuals being hired and receiving equal pay become less.


This is why you need to embody the values of your company by hiring people who do great work despite their backgrounds. You can also consider raising the pay or providing incentives via an anonymous merit system.


Associate with Civil Lawyers Perth


If you feel there are unhealthy practices and various types of discrimination are happening in your workplace, you can opt to hire employment lawyers. These lawyers can help to provide legal assistance or advice to you in case you have been wronged by a company or an individual.


You can contact Civil Lawyers Perth to hire the best team of lawyers that can help you or your company to solve any type of dispute or defamation case. Due to their experience and expertise, these lawyers can help you in many ways.

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