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Workplace Discrimination: The Different Types and How to Avoid Them

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We see discrimination every day but the one place that is supposed to be a safe zone against discrimination is your job. Unfortunately, discrimination in the workplace is still relevant to this very day. And if it’s handled incorrectly, it can cost a company lots of money in lawsuits and irreversible reputational damage.

Whether you have just one employee or several, it’s extremely important to not only understand what workplace discrimination is but to also understand how to avoid it as well. This is especially important for small business owners who wear multiple hats, including human resources.

So, in order to avoid workplace discrimination, you must first understand what it is and the different types of workplace discrimination there are.

What is Workplace Discrimination?

Workplace discrimination is a prejudice treatment to an employee that can affect their salary, promotion opportunities, job security, and benefits solely based on their age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and disability, etc.

There are laws in place that protect employees and prospective employees from discrimination in the workplace, and if someone feels that they’re experiencing workplace discrimination, whether they’re an employee or prospective employee, they can file a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and potentially sue that company… Those are problems you don’t want to have to deal with.

Types of Workplace Discrimination

Age Discrimination

You would think that a person’s age shouldn’t matter as long as they’re able to do their job, right? Well, you would think so but there have been companies that have discriminated against employees and prospective employees because of their age in the past. Because of that, there is now a law in place called the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). It’s this act that makes it a violation to discriminate against current and prospective employees over the age of 40.

Equal Pay

The Equal Pay Act requires employers to pay employees the same pay for the same job, regardless of how old they are, their race, or gender, etc. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. There are cases every day of gaps in pay among genders. According to the Institute For Women’s Policy Research, women only earned 82 cents for every dollar that men made.

This is actually quite sad simply because women make up almost half of the workforce and are the primary source of income for families with children. Plus, they earn more college degrees than men, yet somehow, men get better pay. It’s not fair but gaps in pay is something that is still going on and will more than likely continue.

If you’re unsure what to pay your employees, look up average salaries to get a better idea and also consider if a level of education is required.


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Pregnancy is supposed to be a beautiful experience for women but sometimes their jobs can get in the way of their beautiful experience. One thing that tends to be apparent with discriminating against pregnancy is the aspect of whether or not the pregnancy is naturally conceived or not.

Legally a woman is not required to let her employer know about her pregnancy until 15 weeks before her baby is due. But for women wanting to conceive through IVF treatments, employers tend to look at that a little differently just because it may require a little more time off or adjusted days for the treatments…

Employers tend to be a bit more accommodating to women who conceive naturally versus women who opt for IVF treatment, and that is discrimination, and a lot of it has to do with not understanding the process. That’s why, ideally, it’s recommended for women seeking IVF treatment to have a plan in place before speaking with their employer.

6.1 million experience infertility in the US and it’s very important for you to be understanding of that to not have any lawsuits filed against you for this type of discrimination.


Discrimination against religion is protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits an employer from discriminating against someone for their religious beliefs. Religion is something that shouldn’t be discussed in the workplace anyway but if an employer discriminates against someone because of it, it can lead to a world of trouble for that business.

In addition to not discriminating against someone’s religion, the employer must also make reasonable accommodations to the employee for religious practices unless it’s an inconvenience to the business.


All there is in the world is men and women, and an employer should not discriminate against any person because of their gender… it’s as simple as that. This is especially important today with sexual orientation.


The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also speaks to the aspect of race as well. There are people of all different colors and of different races, and an employer should not discriminate against a person due to their race… it’s as simple as that as well. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. It’s not only about skin color but also about hair texture and style as well.

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