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How to Deal With Discrimination at Work

How to Deal With Discrimination at Work

It is not so easy to find a job you like, and the job that fulfills your ambitions and your financial needs is considered to be a real blessing for any person. The thing that can spoil it all is discrimination. All kinds of religion, age, disability, gender identity, race or sexual orientation discrimination are not just something that you can easily deal with.

Several studies on race discrimination in the workplace found out that 28 percent of African Americans, 31 percent of Asians, and 22 percent of Hispanics suffered discrimination at least once during their working hours in the U.S. (compare it to 6 percent of Caucasian Americans).  Most of these cases were left unreported.

Another study has found that up to 68 percent of gay people have dismal experience in the workplace. And almost 90 percent of women have to change job because of workplace problems.

So discrimination is a problem. If you are the one who is being targeted, we have some advice for you.

Talk to someone you trust (but not from your work)

The first thing you need to do is to explain your situation out loud and to ask someone whose opinion you can trust for help. You need someone to look at the situation from the side. It can be your spouse, your friend, your shrink, whoever can be helpful. Most of the cases are not legally viable: your boss may be a jerk, but you cannot sue him for this. But if your boss is humiliating you because you are a member of a minority, then it is against the law. When you try to analyze the problem all by yourself, it is not always easy to see the difference between these two situations. Especially, if there was only a single comment or a single event that you find humiliating.

Decide what you want

Decide what you want

If you have a problem you cannot tolerate, you can always quit the job. But in most cases this is not an option: either you have certain benefits from your job you do not want to lose, or you have the ambition to be promoted to a better position soon, or maybe you are afraid that you will not be able to find a decent job fast enough. Whatever are the reasons, you have three options:

Option one: go to a lawyer

If not only you but also your friend finds your work situation critical and inappropriate, you can call a lawyer. Sometimes, it can be very important not to delay your decision. In any case, the sooner you start collecting the facts, the better. Everything you can document (emails, reviews, notes) should be documented. The lawyer would also recommend you to do this.

Find your company’s anti-discrimination policy, make a copy of the document. Add every act of discrimination to a kind of a diary: date, time, who was the witness, the details and what actually occurred. Find what does the law has to say about this kind of harassment or discrimination. You can also call the local Department of Labor.

When you come to a lawyer, bring all the documents you have to prove that you are being discriminated. You (or your lawyer) can also make an appointment with the EEOC. The worst thing that can happen is that they say that you do not have enough proof to start a case. In any case, you should give it a try.

Option two: solve the problem yourself

It can happen that the person who attacks you at your working place is just a jerk. You cannot sue a person for being an asshole. In the majority of cases, a personal conversation can help. You do not need to confront them, just let them know that their words are offensive and you would prefer they never say it again.

Remember, you hardly can change the person, and it is not your job to teach them good manners. All you need is to make them respect you and do not spoil the working environment.

We would recommend you not to go to HR-management. Though it might look like an obvious option to do so, the Human Resource department is there to protect the company’s interests, not yours.

Option three: quit the job with no regrets

All the conversations can be useless if your offender is your boss or any other person in power. More than this, it can be dangerous. Do not forget to document everything you can and then plan your escape. If your skills are not appreciated, maybe this place is not worth working at. There is another place where people will judge you by the results of your work, not by your personal features.

It is not so easy to leave your job if you have some obligations (a family, loans or bills to pay), so we would recommend talking to a lawyer anyway.

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