Types of discrimination in the workplaceAccording to statistics kept by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), instances of workplace discrimination continue to decline. For 2017, 84,254 discrimination charges were filed with the EEOC—the lowest number in a decade.

Nevertheless, discrimination continues to occur. In this article, we highlight some of the most pervasive types of discriminations in the workplace in the hopes of raising awareness among American workers that they do not need to tolerate discriminatory conduct.

Common Forms of Discrimination in the Workplace

Federal law prohibits discrimination according to varies protected characteristics. This means that an employer cannot take an adverse employment because of some characteristic about who you are. According to EEOC data, the following were the most common types of workplace discrimination:

  • Race
  • Disability
  • Sex (including pregnancy)
  • Age
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Color
  • Genetic information

There are many types of negative employment actions an employer could take, including:

  • Failure to hire
  • Termination
  • Demotion
  • Failure to promote
  • Reduction in pay or hours
  • Denial of training or mentoring
  • Less desirable assignments

It is important to realize that California protects more characteristics than the federal government. For example, California also protects against discrimination on the basis of gender expression, gender identity, marital status, and other characteristics.

If you believe your employer has discriminated against you illegally, then you might have a valid legal claim.


To help fight discrimination, the government protects employees from retaliation for reporting violations to the government. For example, if you believe your employer has engaged in racial discrimination, you should be able to report it without fear that your employer will fire you or subject you to other punishment.

Unfortunately, the reality in many workplaces is that employees who speak up suffer punishment, so they stay silent, even when they have evidence of discrimination.

One key aspect of retaliation protection is that it applies even if you did not personally suffer the discriminatory action. For example, your boss might have laid off your colleagues because of their sex. You can still report this discrimination and enjoy protection from retaliation.


Harassment is also a form of discrimination that is protected by the EEOC. The most common type of harassment is sexual harassment, but it can include harassment based on any protected characteristic, such as race, sex, age, color, national origin, religion, and disability.

There are two types of harassment:


  • When suffering the harassment becomes a condition of employment.


    1. For example, a quid pro quo sexual favor to gain a promotion or to not be fired. This is blatantly illegal harassment.


  1. A hostile workplace. Workers are entitled to a workplace free of harassment, and they can sue if the workplace becomes too hostile, oppressive, or insulting.

Of the two, hostile workplace claims are the harder to prove because every workplace has tension. Anti-discrimination law is not a general civility code, and you do not have a valid lawsuit every time you feel uncomfortable.

Nevertheless, at some point, a workplace becomes so hostile that a reasonable person would not feel comfortable working there. The amount of harassment will depend on the context. Although one stray joke or remark probably does not qualify, multiple insults might.

Try to identify the following:

  • Slurs
  • Jokes
  • Put-downs
  • Epithets
  • Offensive pictures
  • Gross generalizations (“all women think that way….” etc.)
  • Threats
  • Intimidating conduct

If someone physically touched you without consent, then that conduct might create a hostile work environment all by itself. For example, if someone gropes you, then this conduct alone probably makes the workplace offensive.

Employees Do Have Options

If you have suffered any of these types of discrimination in the workplace, you might be entitled to compensation. You are not required to suffer in silence. Instead, you might be able to hold your employer responsible.

California and Federal law aim to put you in the position you would have been in had the discrimination never happened and to compensate you for all the economic and emotional injuries you’ve suffered. The remedies you can obtain include:

  • Being awarded back pay and benefits
  • Being placed in the position or job you were denied
  • Compensation for emotional and/or medical injuries caused by discrimination
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Court costs
  • Expert witness fees

In some situations, you might also qualify for punitive damages to make an example of your employer so he never discriminates against anyone else. The amount of such damages can depend upon how injured you were, how bad your employer’s conduct was, your employer’s number of employees and your employer’s net worth.

Contact Workplace Rights Law Group Today

Discrimination affects far too many people, and few employers truly suffer the consequence of violating these important laws.

At the Workplace Rights Law Group, we are committed to securing a fair and non-discriminatory workplace for all California residents.

To that end, we help clients file discrimination charges with federal and state agencies and pursue court cases to get our clients the relief they need.

To find out more about how we can help, please contact us today. We offer a free case review which you can schedule by calling 818-925-1572. Please avoid delay.

Employees who have suffered discrimination have a limited amount of time to file a complaint.


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