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  • 3 Very Real Forms of Discrimination Employees Face at Work

    people-1209916_640Employment discrimination is a battle some people face daily. You may know the more common types of employment discrimination such as discrimination based on race, but did you know there are lesser-known types people face as well? You may even have come up against one of the three types discussed below without realizing it was discrimination.

    1. Part-Time Employee Discrimination

    Employees who don’t work a full-time schedule of 40 hours a week or more are considered part-time employees. Part-time employees may be stereotyped to be less productive and even lazy when compared to their full-time counterparts.

    Your coworkers may think you aren’t serious about the work you do and treat you differently because they feel you aren’t committed to the job and aren’t serious. Your employer may pass over you for special projects or other opportunities because they see you as not dedicated.

    This type of discrimination may feel like it’s no big deal because it didn’t prevent you from getting the job, right? While the employer likely hired you knowing you would be a part-time worker, that doesn’t mean you don’t face discrimination. Studies have found that full-time employees resent the flexibility part-timers have, which may lead to discrimination.

    1. Family Responsibility Discrimination

    It may sound strange that your family can be the basis of discrimination, but in many cases, it is, particularly in the case of the working mother. Most of the time, working parents prefer a more flexible schedule because family emergencies could come up at any time or one of their children could get sick and they suddenly need to stay home with no notice.

    Family discrimination lawsuits have been presented in courts for years and may include anything from mothers or fathers being denied family leave or being penalized because they took family leave. They also cover pregnant women being denied jobs because they are going to have a baby. A more recent complaint is caregivers of elderly parents, who may claim a hostile workplace when they feel they face discrimination for taking care of their parental duties.

    1. Gender Discrimination

    When people think of gender discrimination, they may think of women being discriminated against or sexualized in the work place. The truth is gender discrimination happens to both men and women, and can be a real problem.

    Some forms are more subtle, such as a male being expected to work long hours because he has a family to support and doesn’t need to spend a lot of time at home because that’s the mother’s role. Or women may be held back from leadership positions because they are perceived as emotional and sensitive, two traits not fit for a leader in management’s eyes.

    Other forms of discrimination are more blatant, such as expecting the females in the office to take care of “housework” type tasks such as:

    • Answering the phones
    • Planning office parties
    • Taking notes during a meeting
    • Ordering lunch for everyone

    On that same note, men could be less likely to get a secretarial-type job position they apply for because that’s not seen as a job for a man.

    In some cases, women break through that maternal wall and get a position seen as traditionally male, but they still face discrimination. This is called prescriptive bias. A woman who can show strong leadership and acts forcefully may get labeled uncaring or cold. Furthermore, women are expected to be modest and not brag about their accomplishments or self-promote while men are generally expected to flaunt their achievements, even if they are uncomfortable doing so.

    What Does Discrimination Look Like?

    Employment discrimination can result in a number of different things, including:

    • Missing out on promotions
    • Earning less for the same work
    • Losing your job
    • Not getting the job even though you’re very qualified
    • Facing harsher discipline
    • Dealing with harassment at work

    These are just some of the ways discrimination presents itself and causes problems for employees, but remember this isn’t an exhaustive list and you could be dealing with other ways discrimination shows up in the workplace.

    Find Someone to Confide In

    Every case of employment discrimination varies in severity, so what each person should do may vary. First, you should talk about your situation with someone you trust. They can help you get perspective on the situation and determine if you’re facing discrimination or not. A few pointers:

    • Don’t talk to a coworker or anyone at your workplace no matter what your level of friendship is.
    • Present the facts and try not to cloud them with extreme emotion and venting.
    • Let your friend tell you their opinion and try to look at the situation objectively so you can make a decision.

    How Should You Address Discrimination in the Workplace?

    What comes next will be up to you and likely vary based on your personal feelings. You can choose to document everything and talk with a lawyer. If you decide to take it to a lawyer, you should do so immediately because the statute of limitations can be short.

    Another option is to handle it personally. You may choose this in cases where the person is being thoughtless and their actions are illegal yet you think they’re simply unaware. A few pointers:

    • Be non-confrontational but direct.
    • Let them know that what is happening is offensive.
    • Tell them the behavior must stop.

    The final option is to leave the job and put the discrimination behind you. You should still document everything that happens while you work on your escape. You don’t want to just leave the job abruptly without a plan. If you decide to leave for a better environment, you may still want to talk with a lawyer.

    Explore Your Options If You’re Facing Discrimination

    These are just three of the types of employment discrimination that may not be as widely known. It’s important to note that even a more common form of discrimination, such as gender, can take on different forms that aren’t widely recognized as discrimination. Either way, if you are facing discrimination at work, know you do have options and shouldn’t feel like you have to deal with the unfair treatment for the rest of your career.

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    Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and Digital Marketing Specialist. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to sharing advice on navigating the work world. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success in their careers, she shares advice on everything from the job search and entrepreneurship to professional development, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum

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