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How to recognize subtle forms of discrimination

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2021 | Employment Law

When you think of discrimination in an Ohio workplace, what can come to mind are blatant and obvious actions that make it clear an employer has a bias against a person of color, certain gender, behaviors, orientation or other actions. The fact is, most discrimination in the workplace is subtle and it may be difficult to recognize.

Leading interview questions

There are federal and state employment laws that prohibit an employer from asking questions in an interview that could be used to target a protected class. Questions that may be discriminatory in an interview include those related to:

  • Age
  • Genetic information
  • Country of origin
  • Citizenship
  • Birthplace
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Family
  • Pregnancy
  • Race, color or ethnicity
  • Religion

Lack of diverse staff

An employer may be practicing discrimination if everyone in the workplace is the same gender, age, race or sexual orientation. This may mean their hiring practices are discriminating against those who do not fit a certain mold or look. You may also notice that the managerial roles are held by the same gender, age, race or sexual orientation. For example, if all managers in a company are white men, it is possible the company is discriminatory.

Questionable communication

If those in your company who are of color, of a different sexual orientation or are a member of another protected class are constantly belittled, hear offensive jokes or treated more harshly than those who are not of a protected class, they may have a case for discrimination. Although this may seem to be an obvious sign, the communication may not be blatantly discriminatory, but could be subtle or used in the form of a “joke.” If you are a member of a protected class and have key responsibilities taken away or given tasks that are impossible to complete, you may have grounds for a discrimination claim under employment law. This is especially true if you suffer repeated discipline when impossible tasks are not completed. In fact, unjust discipline, when you are punished or criticized unfairly, is another sign that your employer is acting in a discriminatory manner.