The Different Types of Discrimination

By: Eva Zelson
On: January 29, 2024

Zeff - Workplace Discrimination

What qualifies as workplace discrimination?

Workplace discrimination occurs when a person experiences disparate treatment at their place of employment because of certain protected characteristics. Put differently, an employer cannot treat employees differently because of (among other things) the color of their skin, because they are aged 40 or older, or because of their gender. Workplace discrimination can take many forms: You can be discriminated against by your boss, your coworkers, or by the owners of the company you work for. It can consist of perpetual harassment, a feeling that you are the target of discipline when it is unwarranted, or a sense that you are not being treated equally amongst your coworkers. Discrimination is a complex area of the law that requires a knowledgeable workplace discrimination attorney to navigate. But with someone on your side to guide you, you can seek justice for the wrongful discrimination you have experienced.

Talk to a Legal Expert

What’s the difference between unfair treatment and discrimination in the workplace?

The key difference between unfair treatment and workplace discrimination is that discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by law. Federal and state laws clearly state that employers cannot make employment decisions – such as who to hire, fire, or promote – based on protected characteristics. Unfair treatment, while frustrating, is not a basis for legal action. For example, you might have been passed over for a promotion because your boss recently hired their best friend. Even though you may have worked hard for that position and deserve the job, office politics and favoritism are not prohibited by law.

What are the four main types of discrimination in the workplace?

When we talk about workplace discrimination, there are four general categories of discrimination that might occur:

  1. Sex/Gender Discrimination
  2. Age Discrimination
  3. Racial Discrimination
  4. Disability Discrimination

Remember there are other kinds of prohibited discrimination that can occur that are prohibited by law. Consequently, if you feel that you have been unfairly treated at work, you should speak with a workplace discrimination attorney to discuss the legal options available to you.

What’s an example of each type of discrimination in the workplace?

Discrimination is not always obvious. However, there are certain fact patterns that might indicate that you are being discriminated against for improper reasons. Below are examples of each of the main types of discrimination identified above. There are countless ways that you be discriminated against however, and the best way to evaluate your discrimination claim is to speak with a workplace discrimination attorney.

  • Sex Discrimination: Unequal pay between men and women who have the same job title, experience, and work ethic is a very common example of sex discrimination.
  • Age Discrimination: If you are demoted without any performance issues and your former job is filled by an individual who is far younger than you, you may have been discriminated against based on your age.
  • Racial Discrimination: For example, your boss and your coworkers use a variety of racial slurs in your presence during work hours. This is especially egregious if you expressed a desire for such comments to cease or have reported them to a supervisor and the behavior does not change.
  • Disability Discrimination: If you ask your boss for a reasonable accommodation to help you perform your job (such as asking for a roomier desk space to allow wheelchair access) but your boss refuses, that can be an example of disability discrimination.

Additional Types of workplace discrimination

Beyond the four main types of workplace discrimination, there are additional types of discrimination an employee may experience in the workplace.

  • Sexual Orientation – It is illegal to discriminate against an employee because of their gender identity, including transgender status, or their sexual orientation.
  • National Origin – Employees cannot discriminate because of national origin, including accents or the appearance of a certain background.
  • Religion – Unfair treatment of an employee based on their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, is illegal.
  • Pregnancy – Negative employment actions are illegal if they are made on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.
  • Parental Status – Whether an employee is a biological parent, or an adoptive or foster parent, or not a parent at all, it is illegal to discrimination for this reason.
  • Genetic Information – The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 says employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of their genetic information.

If you feel that you have been the victim of any kind of workplace discrimination, schedule a free consultation with a workplace discrimination attorney to discuss your legal options.

How do you tell if your boss is discriminating against you?

The best way to tell if your boss is discriminating against you is to compare how your boss treats you compared to your coworkers. If you begin to notice patterns between how your boss treats you and how he or she treats your colleagues, and that pattern indicates that you are consistently treated unfavorably for arbitrary reasons, workplace discrimination may be in play. Remember, that your boss can still take negative actions against you if your work product is poor and this does not violate the law. However, if there is no apparent reason for the poor treatment, then there is a good chance that your boss is discriminating against you.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

Is it difficult to prove discrimination in the workplace?

Proving workplace discrimination can be a difficult task. This is because in most cases, there are no blatant or obvious signs of discrimination. Instead, the evidence used to demonstrate discrimination is usually circumstantial. Put differently, the evidence relied upon allows a jury to infer that the motives behind a specific employment action were in fact motivated by with discriminatory intent. Fortunately, experienced workplace discrimination lawyers will be able to help you identify compelling circumstantial evidence and build your case against your employer.

Zeff Law Firm has experience workplace discrimination lawyers in Philadelphia

Zeff Law Firm has successfully handled workplace discrimination lawsuits and obtained numerous favorable awards for its clients. We believe that everyone should be treated equally at their workplace and we take pride in helping people seek justice when that isn’t the case. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case with a workplace discrimination attorney and review your legal options.

Take Action & Contact Us Today

All Consultations are Free and Confidential

Get a Free Consultation