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Workplace Discrimination in the 21st Century

We often console ourselves with the thought that issues like harassment and discrimination lie in the past, yet, the truth is far from this. While the majority of discrimination comes from ignorance, the truth is that a lot of people who suffer from discrimination also lack basic awareness of this term. Sure, they can often recognize the discrimination based on sex, race or religion, however, are they aware of ageism and other underrepresented types of discrimination? The first step in avoiding a trap lies in being aware of its existence. So, here are several things you need to know about workplace discrimination in the 21st century.

  1. What are the types of discrimination?

The first thing we have to discuss workplace discrimination are its causes. Sure, a person that’s the cause of discrimination often does this on their own accord and free will, however, determining the moral fault is not the key thing in making a stride in the right direction. For this to work, we must first review the types of discrimination.

The majority of workplace discrimination comes out of retaliation. Then, there’s the sex, disability and race retaliation. The reason why sex discrimination comes first (at least in numbers) is due to the fact that gender-based division tends to be present in virtually every workplace. When it comes to other types of discrimination, even modern workplaces often tend to be quite homogenous. Other reasons for discrimination are national origin, colour and religion of employees.

Finally, there are some forms of discrimination that are not as commonly addressed. For instance, pregnancy or parenthood is a particularly common form of discrimination, even though they’re not often discussed out loud. You see, there are a lot of employers who outright refuse to hire young women in fear that they’ll soon go on maternity leave. Some find their employment contracts to be terminated before they return to work, which is a major problem of its own.

  1. Discrimination and harassment

The biggest difference between harassment and discrimination lies in the fact that harassment, most of the time, tends to be focused on a single person. You see, discrimination is a phenomenon in which one shapes their worldview and decision-making based on their own personal prejudice. If this is the case when it comes to someone with executive power, such a thing might become a problem. For instance, refusing to give someone a promotion because they are of a certain ethnicity is discrimination but insulting them for this very reason is harassment.

  1. Legal protection

Raising awareness about this issue is probably the most important thing in order to make a change. The majority of work laws are tailored so that they protect the employee from discrimination. The problem, nonetheless, lies in the fact that employees don’t necessarily know their rights. In order to fight against discrimination, you first need to be able to recognize it. Once you do, what you need are reputable workplace harassment lawyers. Starting the battle for one’s legal rights is perhaps the single hardest step on this journey.

  1. Proving discrimination

The biggest challenge with discrimination lies in actually proving it. Sure, you may have your doubts, yet, perpetrators often defend themselves by targeting your own subjectivity. For instance, while you may claim that you aren’t getting the promotion because of your age, race or sex, they may claim that you simply aren’t qualified enough. The best way to prove it is to provide direct evidence. While it is true that this often comes in verbal form, you can always find witnesses. It is also important that you make a report of the incident with the exact time, date and place. Giving some circumstantial evidence is also quite important.

  1. Bonafide occupational qualification

The last thing you need to understand is the fact that not every reluctance to hire someone is necessarily an act of discrimination. For instance, there are some occupations for which an employee needs to possess certain characteristics. It is easy to imagine how a person with a particular disability would be unable to work in such a position. This is what is commonly referred to as bona fide occupational qualification and is completely justified in the eyes of the law.

  1. Promoting diversity

One of the best ways to fight discrimination is to promote diversity in the workplace. At the moment, we’re living in a cosmopolitan society, which is why discrimination based on outdated postulates makes virtually no sense. Even a company that employs merely a homogenous local workforce often collaborates with businesses half-a-world away. By stressing out this diversity you can already achieve a lot. Employing people of all age groups and people with disabilities will also help out in this regard. Other than this, these methods are also great in helping you create a positive workplace culture and benefit your brand.

In conclusion

As you can see, this issue is all but simple. In an ideal world, both employees and employers would work towards a safer work environment. Still, in a dog-eat-dog world, it’s a duty of employees to protect themselves and their colleagues from hostile working conditions. The first step on this journey is to arm yourself with knowledge and acquire as much evidence as you believe you need. Once this is over with, taking legal action and encouraging others to do the same is the only logical next step.

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Written by Emily Wilson

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