What is discrimination in the workplace?

Employment discrimination can be considered a form of workplace injury. This refers to discriminatory employment practices such as bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, and compensation, and various types of harassment. This discrimination is not limited to certain traits or characteristics, for discrimination can take place against anyone for anything dependent on the work environment and those who are discriminating.

Workplace discrimination is regulated by both federal and state laws, so it can vary from state-to-state.
Federal laws, regulated by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), protect against most kinds of workplace discrimination.

Federal law prohibits employers from making professional decisions based on the following:

• Age
• Disability
• Genetic information
• National origin
• Pregnancy
• Race
• Religion
• Sex

According to the EEOC, there were a total of almost 100,000 charges filed during 2011 alone with racial discrimination representing the largest group at 36.2 percent of all charged discrimination. Closely following racial discrimination was gender discrimination, holding 30.7 percent of all charged discrimination.

Although these are the two most commonly “reported” areas of discrimination, it does not necessarily mean these are the two most discriminated against. Despite laws and regulations protecting workers from discrimination, it is very difficult to take a chance reporting discrimination and jeopardize your current position with your employer. Not all employers are the same and will react in the manner they are supposed to, thus making it very difficult for the victims of discrimination to take that risk in this job economy.

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