There are a few different ways to look at workplace discrimination. Clearly, if someone tells you that you can’t have a promotion due to your gender or that they’re not going to hire you due to your race, that’s discrimination. But, if you shook your head at those examples and assumed no one would be that blunt, you have a point. And that’s why there are smaller issues — often known as microaggressions — that you do need to consider.
Microaggressions are somewhat controversial because there are those who think they only signify oversensitivity on the part of the person being discriminated against. However, they are very real and need to be taken far more seriously.
For example, a microaggression could be an insensitive comment that shows that the person thinks of you based on stereotypes. Maybe you’re part of a minority group that is often stereotyped as being uneducated. When you bring up a complicated intellectual topic at a work meeting, someone may say that they’re surprised that you knew anything about that — even though the other people in the room have also mentioned intellectual topics without the same response.
Did the person act in an outright hostile manner? No. They may really have been surprised. But what they did was still wrong because it shows that they think of you as “less” than the other workers. When events like this happen all the time, you can definitely feel like you’re being discriminated against.
If you do face any type of workplace discrimination, it’s critical for you to understand the legal steps you can take and the rights that you have as an employee.