Discrimination at work can come in many subtle forms

Overt discrimination is impossible to ignore. It may involve people openly stated their disdain for someone else’s protected characteristics, such as their race, sex or religion. Companies may simply never hire or promote people of certain backgrounds or have no one on staff with a disability.

It can be overt when the people making hiring decisions at a company have serious internal biases, but discrimination in the workplace isn’t always obvious. It can occur in environments where there seems to be a reasonable mix of people employed. Recognizing the signs of subtle discrimination can require a careful analysis of trends and the long-term impact of company culture.

When certain workers don’t last long or never move up

A company that hires people of different racial backgrounds, different levels of physical ability or different sexual orientations doesn’t necessarily operate a discrimination-free workplace. People from one group or demographic frequently lose their jobs or never seem to receive promotions, that could be an indicator of subtle and ongoing bias in the workplace.

Shifts, pay rates and employment perks can also reveal subtle discrimination

Perhaps the company’s hiring policies make racial discrimination impossible, but a manager in one department consistently only gives the best sales leads or shifts to people from one group. Maybe when employees start talking about pay, there’s an obvious discrepancy across racial or sex lines. Even perks like parking spots could reveal subtle and toxic attitudes that affect many people in the workplace.

Toxic attitudes create toxic environments

Some people face constant microaggressions by their co-workers or managers, from statements about other people with similar protected characteristics to ongoing low-level hostility. Multiple kinds of subtle discrimination can add up to be a very unfriendly work environment that put certain people at a disadvantage.

Reviewing what you think constitutes examples of illegal discrimination at your place of employment in-depth can help determine if there is in fact a pattern of discriminatory behavior.


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