How to Avoid Workplace Discrimination

You already know that workplace discrimination is a serious problem with no easy solution.  Employees who are forced to endure workplace discrimination often suffer humiliation, anxiety, anger, fear, or financial problems due to injustice.  These individuals must go through lengthy and often difficult procedures to repair the injustices that deprived them of their rights.  Thus, the best way to combat workplace discrimination is to prevent it from occurring altogether. 

Stop employment discrimination before it starts.  You can avoid the hazards of employment discrimination by using simple techniques during your job search.  That way, you will not be vulnerable to discrimination in your future career. 

InjuryBoard has created this article to help you learn job search and interview techniques so you can avoid situations where employment discrimination is likely.  By reading this article and using the strategies presented, you can ensure that you will find an employer that will welcome you into a comfortable work environment.

Do Your Homework

You wouldn’t buy a car without first conducting research, so why would you apply for a job without doing the same?  You can save yourself loads of aggravation by investigating a job prospect before you submit an application.  Women and minorities can especially benefit from this practice by reading magazines such as “Working Mother” and “Fortune 500,” which provide readers with lists of the best places for women and minorities to work. 

You can gain valuable clues from the internet.  It may be a good sign if the company’s website features a separate link for diversity.  Look at the pictures on the website.  If the photos are all of one race of people, it may indicate that the company does not engage in diverse hiring practices.  The website will probably list the names of the employees who hold management positions.  You may be able to discern whether the company has women in positions of power.

Your investigation should continue into the interview.  When you arrive for your interview, look around the workplace to see if the employee population is diverse.  Do not be afraid to ask the interviewer how many women and minorities hold management positions with the company.

You can also investigate to discover which companies have unfriendly hiring practices toward women and minorities.  For example, Toyota, Coca-Cola, Merrill Lynch, Texaco, Denny’s and Mitsubishi have had workplace discrimination lawsuits filed against them.  However, you should not place too much emphasis on discrimination lawsuits filed in the past.  Some companies, once known for hostility toward women and minorities, are now praised for their diversity.

KEY STRATEGY – By conducting the proper research prior to your interview, you can obtain valuable information about a company’s attitudes toward different groups of people. 

Limitations on Interviewers

You have rights as a potential employee.  The protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 apply during interviews.  Thus, there are several subjects about which the interviewer may not legally inquire during the interview.  The interviewer may not ask you birthplace, nationality, religion, maiden name, marital status, which church you attend, whether you have (or plan to have) a family, whether you need time off for a religious holiday, whether you are pregnant, whether you are the head of a household, or whether you have physical disabilities. 

KEY STRATEGY – By knowing the questions interviewers may not ask, you can shield yourself against improper questioning, voice your concerns, and gauge the response to determine whether you would like to work for the company.

Tips for Diversifying the Workplace

In some cases, an employer does not realize that workplace discrimination exists in the company.  Employers can utilize several techniques for complying with Equal Employment Opportunity laws. 

First and foremost, managers of companies should formulate diversity-related goals and convey to employees the importance of inclusiveness.  If upper-level management and CEOs are not active in encouraging diversity, it is unlikely that lower level management and other employees will take initiative to include all types of people in company endeavors. 

Next, companies should design and distribute to all employees a detailed discrimination policy that unmistakably states the circumstances under which an employee should be disciplined or terminated.  After distributing the discrimination policy, the company should ensure that all employees understand the policy by holding discrimination policy training sessions.  It may help promote understanding to devote some time to teaching employees about cultural distinctions, such as religious holidays.

After the policies are in place and diversity is achieved, companies may wish to calculate any unforeseen financial gains that occurred as a result of diversity.  This may help tie rewards and monetary gain to effectively diversifying the company. 

By creating caucus groups to discuss workplace issues and come up with suggestions to improve working conditions, companies may gain valuable insights that they would not otherwise have had.  For example, a group of women or African Americans may have certain experiences that men or Caucasians do not have.

Lastly and most importantly, companies should instruct employees to notify managers when they learn of discrimination against themselves or any other person.  If the company has a formal procedure for reporting discrimination, the worker should utilize that procedure.  Taking action is integral to preventing future discrimination.  For companies to attract highly intelligent and experienced employees, they should have formal anti-discrimination policies in place.

CLICK HERE - for more information and tips to prevent workplace discrimination

KEY STRATEGY – Companies that do not have formal anti-discrimination policies and procedures can easily remedy the problem by following simple tips and instituting simple policies.

How Employers Discriminate Against Employees

If you are aware of the ways employers discriminate against employees, you will be better equipped to identify discrimination and remove yourself from negative situations.  First, you should have at least a cursory understanding of the federal laws in place to prevent workplace discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) interprets the federal laws currently in place to prohibit workplace discrimination.  These bodies of law include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.  Detailed discussion of these laws is beyond the scope of this article, but please refer to the link below for more information on these laws.

CLICK HERE - for in-depth explanations of the disicrimination laws

The laws listed above are designed to protect applicants and employees from discrimination in hiring and termination, recruitment, job advertising, job assignment, promotion, layoff, transfer, recall, compensation, classification, use of company facilities, testing, benefits, training and apprenticeship programs, pay, retirement plans, disability leave, or other terms of employment.  Employees are also protected against employer retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination.

CLICK HERE - for more information about federal laws that prevent employment discrimination


Read the next article in the series: What to Do When Discrimination Occurs 

Contact an attorney in your area.