Microaggressions are still serious in the workplace

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2024 | Disability Discrimination |

Typically, a microaggression is defined as something that is relatively subtle and may be an everyday act, but it still has a negative impact on certain groups of people. This may be done intentionally or even unintentionally. But it can be a form of discrimination or harassment.

It’s called a microaggression because it isn’t as obvious as other types of discrimination in the past. In the modern era, U.S. labor laws clearly state that discrimination is illegal, and business owners and employees understand this. But that doesn’t mean that these biased attitudes have always changed, and so microaggressions may still take place.

What could this look like?

A microaggression is often when someone points out something that makes a marginalized group of people stand out. The action or statement supports a negative stereotype.

For example, say that a company has all Caucasian employees. They hire an Asian American employee to join the team. One of the Caucasian employees mentions that they are surprised by how well the Asian American employee speaks English and compliments them on their grasp of a foreign language.

This sounds like a compliment, but it’s not. It is an insult because it relies on the stereotype that immigrants wouldn’t be able to understand English.

What’s more is that the Asian American worker may not even be an immigrant. Perhaps they are a second or third-generation immigrant and they’ve spoken English their entire life – while getting an education in America that is even better than their coworker’s. The microaggression is also based on a misconception.

Another example could be if someone makes a comment about someone’s disability such as saying they move fast for someone who uses a disabled parking space.

As you can imagine, these types of situations can get very complicated. Those who have been discriminated against need to know about their legal options.

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