Advertising
Advertising

5 Steps To Deal With Workplace Discrimination

5 Steps To Deal With Workplace Discrimination

Your job is probably not the funnest part of your day on any normal day, but if you’re experiencing workplace discrimination on top of it, you’re probably in a uniquely uncomfortable and miserable experience. After all, who wants to raise trouble with the people who give you a paycheck? How much do you have to weigh the risk of unfair retaliation versus the need to speak up?

The anxiety of disrupting the flow of your place of employment pitted against allowing your rights to be trampled can be overwhelming for many people. Luckily, many laws exist to protect against such bigotry. Here are five steps to take to deal with workplace discrimination.

Document everything

As soon as you believe you may be experiencing discrimination, begin documenting notable events.[1] This is crucial to identifying any trends you believe you are experiencing and to proving your case when you are asked to (and you will be asked to). You will likely need a combination of direct and circumstantial evidence in order to make your case, as you will be unlikely to get enough direct evidence of any discrimination from most people.

Advertising

Documentation includes saving or keeping a record of any rude or discriminatory texts, emails, memos, or conversations, and noting when and where they occurred, as well as between who. This should be kept somewhere safe, secure, and private rather than shown to multiple people.

Educate yourself on your legal rights

Once you have documented evidence of an observable trend of discrimination from a coworker or employer, begin educating yourself on your rights. Different states will have different rules regarding an employer’s right to fire employees, but all states are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ensures that employees cannot be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, nationality, sex, or religion. Subsequent acts also federally protect against ageism and disabilities without an attempt at reasonable accommodations.

However, businesses with less than 15 employees have exemptions.[2] You need to be aware of what your company’s size is as you search your legal rights, since smaller employers are often exempt from discrimination laws.

Advertising

Speak to a supervisor

Whether formally or informally, you need to make a supervisor in your company aware that you feel discrimination is taking place. This can be in a conversation with your boss, or it can be in a meeting with your company’s Human Resources representative. Your company will not take action until you directly ask them to.

In the conversation you must convey that you believe you are experiencing discrimination, not just uncomfortable or in a dispute with a co-worker. Make sure the company understands you believe your rights are being violated and ask for a follow-up, or for the company to take steps to address your claims.

File an official report

If a conversation with a supervisor does not prove fruitful, you will want to file an official report of discrimination with the company’s HR department. In this report you must include all evidence, circumstantial or direct, of discrimination to your company who should evaluate it according to their own procedures. Ask them to investigate your complaint and provide a written report following the evaluation.

Advertising

If the report decides to dismiss your claim or you are unable to file an official report outright, you should consider turning to federal options for protection, including contacting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and file your grievance with the government.

Seek legal counsel

If your employer will not help you in your discrimination case or is the source of discrimination, you can turn to legal counsel to receive legal compensation in court from your company, including back pay, front pay, lost benefits, emotional distress, or punitive damages. An attorney may specialize in a field, such as disability discrimination[3], which might be more pertinent to your case. An attorney can also explain your state’s employment and discrimination laws to you and help you decide what path to take to address your discrimination complaints, whether it includes a lawsuit or not.

Your workplace shouldn’t be a place of harassment, bigotry, or discrimination. If you think you’re experiencing that at your job, consider looking into your options for addressing workplace discrimination to bring an end to unfair treatment.

Advertising

Featured photo credit: Getty Images via thebalance.com

Reference

[1] http://smallbusiness.chron.com/discriminated-against-workplace-16173.html
[2] http://employment.findlaw.com/employment-discrimination/dealing-with-discrimination-tips-for-employees.html
[3] http://summitdisabilitylawgroup.com/salt-lake/

More by this author

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With 8 Signs You Have A Strong Personality That Might Scare Some People How to Achieve Quick Success at Work Even If You’re Lacking in Clear Direction You’ll No Longer Be Fooled by Skillful Liars If You Know This Concept How I Kill Boredom at Work to Regain My Productivity

Trending in Communication

1 40 Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place 2 6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak 3 How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic 4 How to Stop Living on Autopilot with Antonio Neves 5 The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

Advertising

Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

Advertising

How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

Advertising

Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

Read Next