Common Types of Discrimination in the Workplace | LabourBlawg

Common Types of Discrimination in the Workplace

by Andrew Miller on January 27, 2013

workplace Discrimination

Workplace discrimination is when anyone takes adverse action against someone because of certain attributes that they possess. Workplace discrimination could be directed at an individual from their boss, their colleagues, their clients, or even prospective employers. The discrimination or harassment can also take on many forms including racial, gender, cultural, or sexual natures.  Read on to learn more about common types of discrimination in the workplace and what to do to prevent this type of discrimination from becoming an even bigger problem than it already is.  If this problem is already a common occurrence it is important to file a claim.

Overt Discrimination in the Workplace

Overt discrimination is discrimination that is very obvious in the workplace. Generally, when someone discriminates against another person because of the way they look or act, then that is overt discrimination. Put another way, overt discrimination harms stereotyped groups. Taking adverse action against someone because of their race, gender, age, cultural beliefs, religious beliefs or sexual orientation is overt discrimination and is, unfortunately, a common type of discrimination in the workplace. Surprisingly, discrimination against pregnant women has also been increasing.

In a study conducted in 2002, 46 percent of African Americans surveyed said that they had been treated unfairly in the workplace at some point. This is considerably higher than their white colleagues; only 10 percent of white individuals surveyed believed they had been treated unfairly.

Subtle Discrimination in the Workplace

Subtle discrimination is also common in the workplace, but of course, is harder to identify. Susan Fiske, a psychology professor at Princeton University, studied discrimination in the workplace and found that people will unconsciously discriminate against colleagues based on warmth and competence.

Fiske found that workers discriminate on their colleagues’ warmth, meaning they distinguish based on how positive or negative their intentions appear to be. As a result, we view others as either friend or enemy. Someone’s competency is also commonly judged, and we unconsciously rate how effective or capable we think someone is. Fiske states that someone with high warmth and high competence garners admiration, while someone who is viewed as being low warmth and low competence will likely be unconsciously discriminated against.

How to Avoid Workplace Discrimination

Even though there are laws in place that protect stereotyped groups and Human Resource workers within many companies, it is the employers who need to take action in order to prevent workplace discrimination. It is the responsibility of the employer to examine their company and look at whether there are any barriers to entry into the company and for advancement. Employers should practice equitable requiting practices and should encourage diversity within their company.

Discrimination in the workplace, whether it is overt or subtle, can negatively affect an employee’s physical, mental and emotional well being. No employee should ever have to put up with unjust dismissal, injury, verbal or physical abuse in the workplace.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of discrimination in the workplace, it is in the victim’s best interest to file a complaint and seek the experienced assistance of a legal professional. A lawyer will ensure your voice is heard and that you receive any monetary compensation that you are entitled to. Louthian Law Firm P.A. is a South Carolina law office with experienced workplace discrimination attorneys.  For more information about workplace discrimination, visit the website at

Previous post:

Next post: