Workplace discrimination can harm careers is a great injustice to anyone who suffers from it. Unfortunately, it’s more common than many people believe. If you believe you or someone you know is suffering from workplace discrimination, it helps to know some of the most common types to help you better identify it. It’s vital to know when it is happening and prepare yourself to take action if you’re the victim of it.

What is Workplace Discrimination?

Workplace discrimination refers to the unfair treatment of an employee due to a personal trait that has nothing to do with their performance. Common targets of discrimination are a person’s

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • And more

Workers are also subject to discrimination in instances of retaliation, such as if they have made compliant about a company practice and are unfairly targeted for speaking out. These characteristics may be discriminated against by an employer in the following ways:


Workers are able to make complaints about workplace discrimination without facing retaliation from their employer over it. If you have made such a complaint or participated in someone else’s discrimination lawsuit or case and find that you are facing sudden problems from your employers, you could be suffering from workplace discrimination.

Unfair Treatment

One of the most common ways workplace discrimination is manifested is through the unfair treatment of employees. If a worker seems to be treated differently by management for no discernible reason, such as in small talk, in day-to-day activities, or when it comes time for promotion, the reason may be they are a victim of discrimination.


Joking is common in the workplace and can help build team spirit and camaraderie. However, when the laughs come at someone else’s expense, it could be a form of discrimination. Sometimes the harassment is more explicit and involves slurs used by fellow employees. Even if these aren’t directed at a particular employee, they could reveal an underlying discriminatory mindset that could be negatively affecting employees throughout an organization.

Denial of Reasonable Accommodations

Employees can seek reasonable accommodations from their employer that lead to modifications in their workday or environment if they have a disability or certain types of religious practices.If an employer denies these, they may have a valid reason to do so. However, in many cases, they don’t, and the denial amounts to workplace discrimination.

Improper Questions

Employers are allowed to ask a wide range of questions during the interview process or over the course of their employment. However, some things are off-limits, such as your genetic information, certain questions about your personal life, and more. If an employer crosses this line, it’s important to make note of it and consider your options, because they may be gathering information to discriminate against you.

Does At-Will Employment Allow for Discrimination?

While an employer has more leeway to hire and fire employees under at-will regimes, they do not have the ability to hire or terminate employees on a discriminatory basis. Even if other factors are at play in an employee’s hiring or firing, if there is an element of discrimination, a victim may have a case against an employer.

Bottom Line

Workplace discrimination is unsettlingly common, but there are steps that you can take to address it if you’re a victim of it. A labor and employment lawyer can review your evidence and determine if your employer’s actions are based on discrimination. You may be entitled to compensation if your workplace is engaged in discrimination against its employees. Getting the help you need is the first step to remedying the wrongs you could be facing due to workplace discrimination.