Discrimination is a major problem in all segments of society. When it happens in the workplace, it can deprive someone of their ability to earn a fair living or even destroy their careers.
It’s bad enough to be discriminated against for one factor – like your race, gender identity or national origin – but what if you’re the victim of discrimination because of more than one factor combined? That’s called “intersectional discrimination,” and it’s a serious (but often overlooked) issue.
How does intersectional discrimination work?
Essentially, intersectional discrimination means that you’re treated differently than your coworkers because of some bias that combines two (or more) legally protected characteristics.
Typically, researchers say, this is seen most often when it comes to women who are over the age of 40. While older male workers may suffer from ageism in the workplace, women suffer from “gendered ageism.” Some employers assume that older people have less investment in their jobs and less energy. They also assume that women have significantly less attachment to their careers and less stamina than the average man. Combine the two, and it’s a “double whammy” of discrimination.
Other stereotypes can play into intersectional discrimination, however. For example, an assertive, single Black woman could be the victim of bias based on gender and race — especially if they’re stereotyped by an employer as the “angry Black woman” archetype.
Intersectional discrimination is tough because the law forbids both types of discrimination, but not necessarily the combination of the two. If you’ve been victimized by this type of workplace discrimination, find out more about your legal options today.