The obvious types of discrimination that workers faced in previous decades are, thankfully, not as common as they once were. You’re not going to apply for a job and be told you can’t get it because of your race — at least, not outside of the most extreme situations. Most companies fully understand how they’re expected to treat workers and they do so.
However, that does not mean that you won’t face discrimination in other ways while you’re on the job. The issue could just be the constant presence of microaggressions.
What are microaggressions?
Overall, a microaggression is something that may appear minor but which really shows that there is a deep-held bias. It can make workers feel like they’re being discriminated against or that they have to endure a hostile workplace environment, even if no one comes right out and says that they’re not wanted or accepted in that environment.
Say, for instance, that your ethnic heritage is connected to a minority group in the area. You were born and raised in the U.S., but you are still part of this group and connected to this family heritage.
While at work, someone tells you that your English is excellent. You don’t even speak another language. Or they tell you that they can’t believe you’ve risen so far in the company or taken on such a challenging job — the implication being that the job is too challenging for someone of your race or background. Maybe they just make a “joke” about how you’re not like all those “other people.”
As you can see, microaggressions can be incredibly insulting, they can harm your self-esteem and they can make you feel like you are not getting fair treatment on the job. You may start questioning other things, such as whether or not you’re being paid fairly or if you’re really being considered for that next promotion.
What can you do?
When you experience discrimination in the workplace, you need to know what legal steps to take to protect your rights and your career. Don’t assume nothing is wrong when your gut tells you otherwise.