If you ask your boss if they’re biased against any group of people — people of a certain age, ethnic group or religion, for instance — they’re almost definitely going to tell you that they are not. However, you may still think you see discrimination in the workplace. How can this happen?
Unconscious biases creep out in many ways
One answer, of course, is that your boss is biased and won’t admit it. Discrimination is illegal, after all. They may just be trying to hide it, even if they know it’s there. But let’s consider something a bit less malicious. Maybe they really think they aren’t biased at all. If they still discriminate, it could just be that they have biases that are invisible to them.
The American Bar Association notes that “everyone is a little bit biased.” These things are easier than you’d think to overlook or deny. But if everyone has biases, then they need to work to overcome them, and they should never treat employees differently based upon them.
It could be simple. Maybe an older worker comes in for an interview and your boss dismisses them out of hand, assuming they can’t understand the technology being used or that they won’t fit the office culture. Maybe a minority candidate applies and your boss assumes that they’re not educated enough to do the job.
It’s not illegal to avoid hiring someone who can’t do the job or who isn’t qualified educationally. The problem is assuming those things about people without giving them a fair shot. Your boss may not even consciously decide to do this, but it does happen.
What are your rights against workplace discrimination?
If you face any type of workplace discrimination, it violates your rights as an American worker. You need to know exactly what those rights are and what steps you can take to protect them.