Examples of Discrimination in the Workplace

by Jim Welte

Every workplace consists of people who hail from different cultural, religious or social backgrounds. Sometimes, these differences may give rise to discrimination, regardless of the fact that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, enacts regulations to curb this vice. Discrimination in the workplace occurs in different forms based on characteristics, such as age, gender, race, marital status or ethnic background.

Age Discrimination

Age discrimination occurs when an employee receives unfavorable treatment due to his age. Such a person could be the target of offensive remarks about his age. It also arises when the workplace’s policies or practices impact negatively on employees age 40 years and older. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, however, does not protect applicants or employees who are younger than 40.

Religious Discrimination

Religious discrimination is the unequal treatment of employees based on their religious beliefs. This form of unfavorable treatment manifests itself through unwarranted dismissals, harassment, segregation or unequal pay. As part of religious discrimination, the victim does not get the chance to actualize his religious beliefs in the workplace, due to lack of a flexible work schedule, job reassignments or voluntary shift substitutions. This is contrary to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination on grounds of a person’s sex, color, religion, race or origin.

Sex Discrimination

Sex discrimination arises from unwarranted treatment of a person due to her sex. Examples of sex discrimination in the workplace include seeking sexual favors, unwanted sexual advances and physical harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual discrimination is also evident when an employee earns more money than an employee of the opposite sex, despite possessing the same expertise. The Census Bureau reported that the average salary for women was 77 percent that of men in 2011. Employment policies or practices can also be sexually discriminative, when they negatively affect employees of a certain gender.

Racial Discrimination

An employee who receives unfavorable treatment because of his race is a victim of racial discrimination. It also occurs when certain employees experience unequal treatment due to their possession of specific characteristics associated with certain races. Employees who are married to certain races may also witness racial discrimination based on these marital ties. This is the same case for people who belong to certain race-based groups. Racial discrimination in the workplace rears its head through derogatory statements, unfair policies, dismissals and conditions of employment.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images