Most people work hard at their jobs with the plans to advance up the career ladder. However, some employees or job applicants never have that chance due to discriminatory practices or workers.
According to EEOC reports, there were 73,485 employment discrimination complaints filed in 2022. It was an increase of more than 12,000 complaints over the previous year. The top complaints involved retaliation (37,898), age (25,004), race (20,992), sexual discrimination (19,805), and religion (13,814).
Employment discrimination has devastating effects on career advancement, and both workers and management must work together to ensure discrimination never occurs. Take a closer look at what employment discrimination is, how it affects a person’s career, and what you can do to prevent it from happening.
In one case, an employee reported the harassment of female employees at the hands of a specific manager. Instead of her complaint being taken seriously, she was fired in retaliation.
What Are the Different Types of Employment Discrimination?
Some of the types of workplace discrimination were mentioned above. Employment discrimination is covered by all of these categories.
- Age discrimination: People age 40 or older are protected from age discrimination. Companies cannot use age as a reason to avoid hiring or promoting a job applicant or employee asking for a promotion. In one recent case, an automotive company fired an older employee when he was diagnosed with cancer. The company was allegedly trying to avoid paying more in insurance due to the necessary cancer treatments.
- Disability discrimination: Qualifying physical or mental conditions that limit activities cannot be used as a basis for not hiring or promoting a person. If a person has a disability, they are entitled to request accommodations to help them perform their job duties, and an employer cannot refuse unless it would cause undue financial strain. As an example of this, several hearing-impaired employees asked for an ASL interpreter during safety meetings and were denied.
- Gender discrimination: Discrimination based on whether you are a man, woman, etc. is illegal. A restaurant chain was called out for discrimination due to their policy of only hiring women in front-of-house and server positions. Men were not allowed to fill these jobs, and that’s discriminatory. In addition, the Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same jobs get the same pay and benefits.
- Pregnancy discrimination: A woman who is or might become pregnant cannot be turned down for a promotion or job. In one case, an assisted living aide was fired when she announced she was pregnant to her boss. That’s not allowed to happen.
- Racial and ethnic discrimination: Your race or ethnicity is not grounds for discrimination either. If you must wear a hijab as part of your culture, an employee cannot use that to prevent you from receiving a promotion.
- Religious discrimination: Religious discrimination is a form of unfair or unequal treatment due to your religion. In one 2021 case, a number of Muslim workers asked for time to pray at sundown, as their religion requires. They were fired for requesting the accommodation.
- Retaliation: In one situation, a sales worker for a real estate company overheard his co-workers using slurs after he took on a multiracial family as a client. He refused to join in and was harassed by those same employees and started losing commissions, leading to his termination.
- Sexual orientation discrimination: Sexual orientation protects anyone from discrimination in the workplace based on whether they are straight, bi-sexual, gay, etc. You cannot be told the company only hires cisgender people.
- Veteran status discrimination: If you’ve applied for a job lately, you might notice the question asking if you’re a veteran. Veterans cannot be discriminated against either. A company couldn’t say they cannot hire anyone with service-related PTSD, it’s illegal.
How Do They Impact Your Career and Career Advancement?
Employees who are victims of workplace discrimination are less likely to receive equal pay, be considered for promotions, or be hired for a job opening. If you witness discrimination and report it, you face retaliation that also affects your chances for a promotion.
Some of the examples listed above delve into how these discriminatory practices can lead to job or promotion loss. It can also create a hostile workplace that makes workers quit or refuse to apply for open jobs, so it can destroy a business’s reputation, too.
One of the biggest cases recently settled involved over 2,800 women who’d been denied promotions and higher pay based on their gender. The financial firm that failed to provide equal pay or promotions agreed to pay $215 million in settlements. The case took almost 13 years to reach this settlement which will find each woman getting about $47,000.
Employers and Workers Need to Team Up
Company owners and management need to create a healthy, equitable work environment. It’s important to build a solid reputation as a fair, enjoyable workplace, as that trickles down to the community and boosts support for your business.
Workers need to feel comfortable going to their managers and knowing they will be heard and treated with respect and also in a lawful manner. It might mean training your managers well to ensure problems are addressed quickly and appropriately, but it’s important to take the time and even money to have these training sessions. If you have problem managers that workers tell you about, it’s important to look into it and not automatically take a manager’s word over that of the employees.
As an employee, it’s important that you’re calling out bad behavior. It might seem daunting to be the one to speak up, so consider going in a group. Use the safety-in-numbers approach. If you’re all fired, immediately file complaints with the EEOC or California Civil Rights Department. Don’t let it worsen or hope it will get better, as it often just trickles down to the next person.
Don’t Ignore Issues, Report Them!
If you witness or are the victim of employment discrimination, do not ignore it. Stand up for someone else or yourself and speak up. That’s often overlooked. You don’t have to be the victim to file a complaint, you can witness it and call out the bad behavior.
File a complaint with your HR team, if you feel you can safely report issues, otherwise file your complaint with the California Civil Rights Department or talk to an attorney who specializes in California worker rights. Employment discrimination ruins reputations and careers, and it’s time to put a stop to it.
Shegerian Conniff’s team of expert employment law attorneys offers the advice you need. You don’t pay us until we take your case and win for you. Our payment comes from your award or settlement. Don’t let discrimination keep you from your career goals or receiving fair treatment at work. Give us a call for a free consultation.