Illegal forms of discrimination are still fairly prevalent in today's workplace. In fact, some reports indicate that while instances of illegal discrimination are slowly decreasing, the number of employees claiming illegal retaliation has increased drastically. In fact, of the 88,778 total charges lodged with the EEOC in 2014, the majority were rooted in claims of illegal retaliation.
5 Common Types of Workplace Discrimination:
- Illegal Retaliation: Retaliation connected to illegal forms of discrimination is the complaint cited the most often according to the EEOC. Retaliation occurs when an employee experiences tangible consequences because they complained or demanded their rights in the workplace. Retaliation that would fall into this category includes: demotion, termination, cut in hours, or cut in pay.
- Racial Discrimination: Some instances of racial discrimination may be obvious (i.e. being fired for racially related reasons, or being demoted, denied a fair salary, denied equal treatment in the workplace, refused employee training or benefits, or being harassed for racial reasons) There are also instances in which seemingly harmless statements, random comments, or criticism can have underlying meaning that evidence discriminatory intent. This is particularly true if it is part of a pattern of behavior.
- Gender Discrimination: Gender discrimination or sex discrimination occurs when an employee or applicant for a job is treated differently by the employer based solely on their gender. Gender discrimination laws cover a number of issues that employees find themselves facing in the workplace, including: sexual harassment, equal pay issues, stalled promotion or career development based on gender, pregnancy discrimination, marital status discrimination or parental status discrimination, gender identity and gender expression.
- Disability Discrimination: This type of discrimination can take many forms. In some cases, it may consist of comments about a disability made by a co-worker or manager alongside an adverse employment action like failing to promote, offering the employee less favorable working conditions, layoff of the employee, or termination or disciplinary proceedings. In some cases, the disability discrimination may be a failure to accommodate based on refusing to provide or discuss with the employee reasonable accommodations they need to be able to perform their job duties. At a minimum, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to engage in an “interactive process,” which is a discussion of proposed reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities in the workplace.
- Age Discrimination: Sometimes employers may aim age discrimination at older workers with comments about or pressure to retire from the workforce, or about needing a “young, energetic” workforce, or simply refusing to hire a qualified candidate based solely on their age. Employees over the age of 40 are protected from age discrimination in the workplace by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) amended the ADEA in 1990 offering even more protections for the older workforce.