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What form does workplace discrimination take?

Workplace discrimination can affect you at all stages of your employment -- even though discrimination due to numerous factors, like your race, religion, national origin or gender, is illegal under both federal and state laws.

You may know that workplace discrimination is against the law, but do you know how to spot it when it happens? Many workers do not. Their lack of familiarity with the issue makes them doubtful about whether or not their employers have done anything wrong or if they even have a case.

Here are some common situations that are actually discriminatory:

  • Advertising jobs with the description "digital native," "Generation Z," or "recent graduate" (implying rather clearly that older people aren't welcome to apply)
  • Firing immigrants (or refusing to hire them) because an employer doesn't "want trouble from immigration"
  • A company dress code that discriminates against people of African American heritage because of hair grooming policies or an arbitrary policy about how much weight an employee can lift that discriminates against women
  • An employer who won't make accommodations for an employee's religion, like banning hair coverings of all kinds for no particular reason
  • Refusing to make accommodations for a disability because it will aggravate other employees in some way, like denying someone who has trouble walking a preferred parking spot because those usually only go to employees with seniority
  • Allowing a manager to cut the hours of an employee who becomes pregnant or allowing other employees to harass the pregnant worker over her condition or breaks

Ultimately, you may not know whether an employer's actions were discriminatory or not under the law without taking the issue to an experienced attorney. If you feel like you've been discriminated against, it's worth finding out more.

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