Workplace discrimination encompasses many actions and can take on various forms. From overt comments and acts to less obvious behavioral patterns or exclusionary business practices, an employee may suffer discrimination based on his or her age, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
In this post, we'll examine some of the more common forms of workplace discrimination and review protections against such discriminatory acts as afforded by U.S. labor laws. We'll also outline steps employees who are or have experienced workplace discrimination can take to recover compensation and damages related to discrimination and injustices they may have suffered in a work environment.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of 2013, an estimated "72.7 million women were part of the U.S. labor force." Today, women work in all industries and many hold managerial and executive positions. However, despite their many successes, women in the U.S. labor force are paid approximately 80 cents for every one dollar earned by a man.
In addition to pay disparities between men and women, it is unlawful for an employer to take an individual's sexuality into account when considering job applicants, promotions of current employees, layoffs or firings or when assigning certain job duties and responsibilities.
These same principles apply when it comes to an employee's race and acts of racial discrimination. Acts of racial discrimination may include comments or remarks made by a supervisor, co-worker or customer about specific features or stereotypes associated with a specific race. Additionally, work policies that are arbitrary and aim to negatively impact or place an undue burden on individuals of certain races or ethnicities may be considered discriminatory in nature.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that it is "illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or sex." Employers who fail to take measures to ensure workplaces are free of discriminatory acts, practices and policies may be found in violation of U.S. labor laws. Employees who have been the victim of workplace discrimination would be wise to discuss their situation with an attorney who can help determine if legal action is appropriate.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opporunity Commission, "Discrimination by Type," 2014