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Understanding indirect discrimination at work

On Behalf of | Aug 27, 2022 | Workplace Discrimination

Many times, workplace discrimination is classified as direct discrimination. This refers to a situation in which the worker faces obvious acts of discrimination based on a protected class. An example could be if someone applies for a promotion and is then told they are too old to be considered, which is a type of age discrimination.

But there are also cases in which workers are impacted by indirect discrimination. What is this and how does it occur?

A dress code

One potential example of indirect discrimination is a dress code. The code itself may not specifically discriminate against an individual. But the provisions in that code may impact one person – or a group of people – more than other employees. This could make it discriminatory in nature, even though that discrimination is an indirect result of the dress code.

For instance, perhaps some of the employees at a company are part of a specific religion and they need to wear a certain type of clothing. A dress code that needlessly forbids them from wearing it could be seen as religious discrimination. 

Technically, the employer could claim that the dress code is fair because it prohibits all employees from wearing that clothing. But it is still discriminatory because it is obvious that only the workers who are part of that religion would have wanted to wear it in the first place, so they are the only ones who are really being banned from doing so.

If you do find yourself being discriminated against for any reason, whether it’s direct or indirect, be sure you know your rights as an employee. Discrimination does still happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it.