Workplace discrimination used to be very overt. A white worker may tell an African American worker that they don’t want to work with them; a hiring manager may tell a female worker that she’s not going to get hired because they want to hire a male worker. People often did not worry much about how these attitudes came off because they were very widespread and, unfortunately, often accepted.
That has changed. Discrimination is now illegal. More workers know their rights. Supervisors and managers know that they cannot act that way, regardless of their personal feelings.
Here’s the problem: Those feelings aren’t gone. Those attitudes aren’t gone. People still feel the same way and they still, many times, want to act the same way. They just know that they cannot do so in the modern era. They can’t be as obvious. They seek out more subtle ways to discriminate. Examples include:
- Not promoting minority workers, even though they still get hired to work for the company and have all of the qualifications to get promoted.
- Giving minority workers the jobs that no one else prefers to have. This may be done simply to hand off work that no one wants or to make the person miserable so that they quit in an effort to avoid illegally firing them.
- Not hiring minority workers in the first place, though making excuses about qualifications, the fit with the company or something else of this nature.
- Hiring minorities but sticking to the bare minimum. This is done to give the appearance that the hiring procedures are fair and just when they actually are not.
- Bullying people in the workplace and then claiming that it was all just a joke and that the person is taking things too seriously.
Essentially, rather than actually treating workers fairly, people will often try to just cover up the unfair behavior. They’ll try to keep it subtle. They’ll have an excuse or a story to make it appear that they’re not biased.
This makes discrimination more complex than it used to be, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that means it doesn’t exist. Many workers experience it every day, despite the illegality of it. It just looks different than it did for previous generations of workers.
If you have faced this type of discrimination, make sure you still know what legal rights you have. No matter how someone tries to hide it, treating you poorly because of things like race and gender is still illegal. You need to know what steps you can take.