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How discrimination may manifest in the workplace

A study released in March drew on the experiences of 500 people who had faced workplace discrimination related to factors such as their age, gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, pregnancy or marital status. In some cases, the discrimination was subtle. The researchers identified a number of different ways that discrimination might manifest in workplaces in New York and throughout the country.

Some people felt pressure to hide aspects of themselves. As an example, researchers pointed to a gay woman who felt she could not talk about her wife at work. Some employees said they felt they were perceived as less competent because of their age, race, gender or other factors. In other cases, employees were criticized for qualities, such as aggression, that might have been praised in young white male employees.

Some employees reported discriminatory comments that were then passed off as a joke. In other cases, managers and coworkers made discriminatory comments about customers or others and believed this was not a problem since they were not disparaging fellow employees. Employees also reported being shut out of conversations or meetings or being treated more harshly than other employees. A 2016 report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that supervisors should be held accountable for preventing harassment and that all employees should be trained in avoiding being discriminatory and in reporting discrimination.

People who believe they are being discriminated against at work might want to talk to an attorney to ascertain whether they are in a protected class and what their rights might be. They might want to document the discrimination and go through channels at work to report it, but if their workplace does not put a stop to it or if the victims face retaliation, the attorney may be able to help.

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