When people think of discrimination, they often think of blatant displays of sexist, racist, or otherwise bigoted behavior. However, not all forms of discrimination are so blatant, although they can have a dramatic impact on an employee’s ability to function and prosper in their workplace. Here are five common ways employers use to try to get away with workplace discrimination:
- Disciplinary abuse
- One of the most common ways employers try to hide discrimination is through the use, or abuse, of disciplinary measures. This could mean disciplining employees for minor infractions that normally go beneath notice, or it could mean giving disproportionately heavy punishments that other employees would get a slap on the wrist for. Most significantly, however, the use of formal disciplinary measures allows an employer to justify further punishments down the road, such as denying an employee raises or promotions.
- Dress codes
- Another way employers can conceal discriminatory behavior is through the implementation of dress codes. While having a certain standard of dress may be considered appropriate for many business contexts, it is worth noting what sorts of clothing or hair are acceptable under a particular dress code and which are not. For example, some employers will discriminate against African-Americans by barring afros, dreadlocks or other hairstyles commonly associated with African-Americans. They may also disproportionately punish dress code violations with certain employees, leading to further discrimination later on.
- Being denied training opportunities
- Some companies will offer to train employees, giving them a chance to rise up the ranks and get promoted. However, training an employee in new job skills can be expensive, so it is reasonable for a company to limit who it chooses to train. However, if you look at which employees get chosen to be trained and who gets left out, you may notice a pattern that looks suspiciously like discrimination. This is especially true if the training in question is necessary to advance in the company.
- Not being invited to events
- Many companies will host formal events, or bring employees to formal events, such as conferences, conventions or fundraisers. These events are often great networking opportunities and may be necessary for an employee to advance their careers. By the same token, however, whoever an employer chooses not to bring to these events can be indicative of what kinds of employees they want to promote within the company. When an employer refuses to extend invitations to women, people of color, or other marginalized groups of people, that can be a form of discrimination.
- Isolation from co-workers
- Isolation is a more subtle form of discrimination that does not impact a worker directly. Instead, it involves an employer encouraging other workers not to communicate with a certain employee. Not only can this make it harder for them to get their work done, but it creates a sense of loneliness that can significantly impact an employee’s mental health. Over time, an employee may get the sense that they are unwanted, and voluntarily leave the company rather than deal with the isolation. This is effectively a form of harassment, and may be a passive-aggressive form of discrimination.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 39 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.