Employment discrimination

How To Identify Employment Discrimination

By Douglas Lipsky

All employees have a right to a workplace free of discrimination, however, discrimination is an ongoing problem in many companies in New York and around the country. While some forms of discrimination are obvious, others can be subtle and difficult to identify unless you know the signs. The best way to protect your rights is to have an experienced employment attorney on your side. 

Let’s take a look at some subtle and obvious signs of workplace discrimination. 

Inappropriate Questions During a Job Interview

An early sign of a discriminatory workplace is if a hiring manager asks a candidate inappropriate questions during the interview. These questions may involve a candidate’s age, marital status, or disability or making offensive remarks or assumptions about their sexuality or gender identity.  For example, if you’re aged 40 or older and an interviewer makes remarks about your age and tech skills, this could be a sign of a discriminatory workplace.

Lack of Diversity 

A more obvious sign to look for is if the company lacks diversity in its workforce. For example, if you notice the employees are all of the same race, age, or gender, this may be an indication of a culture of discrimination. Diversity and inclusion are hallmarks of a positive culture because a company should understand people’s differences and the value of the unique skills and experience they can bring. Ultimately, there should be no bias in the hiring process. 

Harsh or Demeaning Communications

The way your employer or colleagues communicate with you is essential. While people like to make jokes, offensive comments about a person’s race, gender, or other protected characteristics are signs of discrimination, as are harsh or belittling comments. Offensive remarks that are severe and persistent can create a hostile work environment, and your employer can be held liable for discrimination if this occurs. 

Unequal Pay

Employers often prohibit their employees from discussing their salaries with their coworkers because it may expose unfair pay practices. However, you have a right to discuss your salary under federal and state law. If you learn that a coworker who has the same position and experience as you earns more, this may be a sign of discrimination, especially if the other person is of a different gender, age, or race.

Unfair Promotions 

In addition to unequal pay, another sign of workplace discrimination is employers that overlook certain workers for promotions. Employees should have a fair chance of being promoted when it is deserved. If you’ve been working hard for years and have the skills and experience for a higher position but get passed over in favor of someone less qualified, you may have a basis for an employment discrimination claim.

Unjust Disciplinary Actions

Discriminatory conduct in the workplace can also occur when managers and supervisors take unfair disciplinary actions against an employee. Employers often use this strategy to build a case to terminate an employee who complains about discrimination, harassment, or wages. 

The Takeaway

Workplace discrimination can impact anyone and have lasting repercussions, including lost career opportunities and reputational harm. Despite federal, state, and local laws that prohibit discrimination, many employers continue to discriminate in their hiring and employment practices. If you believe that you have been treated unfairly by your employer, contact an experienced employment lawyer today.

About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.