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Defending yourself against discrimination: Your rights at work

Discrimination has no place in a work environment. You should be able to go to work each day confident that you're not being discriminated against or facing struggles due to your age, skin color or other protected factors.

There are numerous types of workplace discrimination that you could fall victim to. Fortunately, they're easy to recognize, so you can immediately report them and get better control of the situation.

Discrimination factors

Some different kinds of discrimination include discrimination based on:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Skin Color
  • Relationship to someone who could experience discrimination
  • Planning for parenthood
  • Pregnancy
  • National origin
  • Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Genetic information
  • Physical disability
  • Mental disability

What happens when someone faces discrimination?

It depends on the situation. For instance, someone applying for a job may experience discrimination and not be hired due to his or her perceived heritage, age or other protected factors. That's discrimination, even though the person was not working for the employer.

Discrimination can also occur when a person is getting close to retirement, maternity leave or disability leave. A person should not have to worry about being treated differently because of a disability, giving birth or because of aging into retirement.

Employers are not legally able to deny employees compensation or benefits because of the above protected factors or to pay them differently as a result of those factors. Employees can't be discriminated against in how they're allowed to use company facilities, when looking to promote or when people are being laid off.

Here's a good example. If the company has to lay off 20 people of its 300 members, the organization should base the layoff on factors unrelated to things like gender, age or other protected categories. If all 20 people are females in their 20s, then they would have a good chance of lodging a complaint against the company for unfair treatment.

Another example would be if the company has only white male workers despite receiving applications from Asian, Black and Mexican applicants with the same or better qualifications. It would definitely raise eyebrows and make people wonder why the business did not include minorities or other genders when it hired. There would be a good case for discrimination.

Discrimination is not fair and should not impact you in the workplace. If it does, keep in mind that you should collect evidence and prepare to file a complaint. It's possible to stop discrimination with the right help.

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