Fred Geonetta
By: Fred Geonetta

One third of your life is spent at work. Considering the significant investment of your life this represents, it should only be fair that your work environment is one of mutual respect and cooperation. But quite often this isn’t the case and the work environment is actually a breeding ground for toxic discrimination.

The first step towards affecting change in the workplace is to recognize discrimination when it happens. There can be a lot of anxiety around identifying workplace discrimination, as people often worry they’ll lose their jobs or face harsh criticism for speaking up against the workplace’s culture. Thankfully there are checks and balances in place to help those looking to fight against discrimination in their workplace, as well as employment law attorneys dedicated to protecting your employment rights.

How Can I Spot Workplace Discimination?

Workplace discrimination can come in many forms. The most common are:

  • Favoritism from Management: Preferential treatment is a form of discrimination in which an employee or a group of employees is given better treatment (such as perks like nicer offices or preferable assignments).
  • Denied Promotions: Denied promotions don’t necessarily mean that there is discrimination at play but repeatedly being denied promotions you are capable of handling can be.
  • Degrading or Insulting Comments from Management: Management speaking to you in a degrading or insulting manner is a clear example of workplace discrimination that filters into the workplace from the top.
  • Demeaning or Insulting Comments from Coworkers: Demeaning or insulting comments from your coworkers should lead to management stepping in to address the problem. But if management overlooks these comments or underplays them, then they are promoting discrimination within the workplace.
  • Lack of Diversity: A lack of diversity is reflective of discriminating hiring practices. This results in a workplace where most people are the same race, gender or age and those that aren’t are typically made to feel token.
  • Inappropriate Interview Questions: Another sign that there is discrimination in the hiring process are questions that are inappropiate. These could be demeaning questions or questions which are predicated on stereotypes.
  • Positions That Never Change: Fixed positions can be a sign of favoritism. If there are people whose position never changes, despite their actions necessitating change, then it could be a sign of discrimination.

These are just the most common forms of workplace discrimination. How these forms of workplace discrimination manifest can come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. For example, insulting comments might come in the more readily noticeable form of racism or sexism but they could also come in the form of ableism or discrimination against an individual’s medical conditions, martial status or sexual orientation. These may manifest differently but they are all different forms of workplace discrimination.

Is Workplace Discrimination Always Easy to Identify?

Workplace discrimination is not always easy to identify. In fact, it can be quite hard to identify at times and this allows it to go untreated. Signs of discrimination such as a lack of diversity can be hard to spot in a larger company, as you may think there is more diversity in other departments. Likewise, a high turnover rate is often a sign of workplace discrimination but this discrimination could be happening in private and thus be hard to spot.

If you suspect that there is discrimination happening in your workplace then keep an eye out for the signs. They might not be immediately visible, such as with favoritism or promotion denial, but once you are aware of what to look for you’ll be able to more easily identify it.

One thing to remember is that discrimination may be hard to identify when looking at a single case, such as lack of diversity, but can be easier to spot when combined with multiple signs, such as if there is a lack of diversity, favoritism from management and a history denied promotions in the same workplace.

What Will Happen to Me If I Speak Up About Workplace Discrimination?

When faced with discrimination in the workplace it can be frightening. People worry that they will lose their job or have their reputation tarnished by coming forward. However, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act makes it illegal for your employer to discriminate against you on the grounds of:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Skin Color
  • National Origin
  • Physical Disability
  • Medical Conditions
  • Mental Disability
  • Gender or Gender Identity
  • Gender Expression
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Ancestry
  • Military or Veteran Status
  • Marital Status
  • Predisposition to Genetic Hereditary Disease

If you are being discriminated against on any of these grounds then the law is on your side and as such you are offered its protection for coming forth. Your employer is not able to retaliate against you, such as by firing you. If an employer does retaliate against an employer for reporting workplace discrimination then they open themselves up to further lawsuits.

A discrimination claim can be filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal employment Opportunity Commission. Both agencies cooperate with each other so you don’t need to file a claim with both. However, California’s anti-discrimination laws cover a wider range than the federal laws and it could be beneficial to file your claim through the DFEH. If you’re unsure how this is done, we’re always here to help.

What Should I Do if I am Being Discriminated Against in My Workplace?

Workplace discrimination doesn’t disappear on its own. When it isn’t reported it is left to fester and grow worse. If you have experienced discrimination in your workplace then you understand how humiliating and frustrating it can be. By speaking up about discrimination you stand up for yourself and your fellow workers, as well as any future employees the workplace may take on.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against in your workplace then you should reach out to an attorney that is well versed in employment law and discrimination cases.Geonetta & Frucht, LLP has a lot of experience in fighting against workplace discrimination and are ready to help. Reach us by calling 510-250-2743.

Fred Geonetta
By: Fred Geonetta

Frederick J. Geonetta is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of Law. His legal practice is entirely devoted to litigation. Mr. Geonetta has spent the past 25 years in private practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants who have been harmed or wronged by the actions of others or who have been falsely accused of causing harm to others. He represents clients across the U.S. and international clients who seek U.S. legal advice or representation.