In 2023, extremely overt examples of discrimination in the workplace are relatively. For instance, companies used to be able to say that they didn’t want to hire people from certain ethnic groups. This is now prohibited, so it’s very rare to find job postings that are explicit in this way.
But that doesn’t mean that discrimination itself has ended. It just means that companies generally understand the rules that they now have to follow and tend to be more subtle in any discriminatory efforts that they may engage in. These conscious and subconscious efforts often take the form of microaggressions.
What are microaggressions?
Microaggressions are subtle behaviors or comments that convey prejudiced attitudes or stereotypes, and they can have a negative impact on individuals or groups in the workplace. Here are some examples of microaggressions:
- Colorblindness: Statements that downplay or ignore a person’s racial or ethnic identity, such as saying, “I don’t see color; we’re all the same.”
- Assumptions of Foreignness: Asking someone where they’re “really” from or assuming they are not from the same country as you, even if they were born and raised there.
- Gender Stereotyping: Telling a woman that she’s “too aggressive” or a man that he’s “too sensitive,” reinforcing traditional gender norms.
- Exoticization: Complimenting someone by saying they look “exotic” or “ethnically ambiguous,” reducing their identity to an object of fascination.
- Assumptions of Economic Status: Assuming someone’s financial situation based on their appearance, such as saying, “You don’t look poor.”
- Backhanded Compliments: Giving a compliment that also reinforces a stereotype, like telling an Asian person, “Your English is so good!” implying surprise that they speak English fluently.
- Cultural Appropriation: Adopting or using various elements of another culture – such as clothing or hairstyles – without respecting their significance, often without permission.
- Microassaults: Expressing overtly prejudiced attitudes or using slurs in a subtle or indirect way.
- Ageism: Assuming someone is not capable due to their age, such as saying, “You’re too young to understand.”
- Religious Stereotyping: Assuming that someone practices a particular religion or has certain beliefs based on their appearance.
Do you believe that you have been discriminated against on the job? This could be a violation of your rights as a worker, and it’s critical that you understand all of your legal options by seeking legal guidance in a confidential setting.