12 Types of Discrimination in the Workplace

According to a report by Glassdoor, around 61% of U.S. employees have witnessed or experienced some type of discrimination based on race, age, gender, or sexual orientation. 

In 2020, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) settled more than 700 workplace discrimination cases and vetted more than $11 million in settlements for victims.

These numbers are skyrocketing as more and more employees fall prey to workplace discrimination. Some workers don’t even know they are being discriminated against or that there are federal and state laws protecting them from discrimination in the workplace. Unaware workers fail to take correct and immediate action against it.

Are you facing any type of employment discrimination, whether from your employers or your coworkers? Workplace discrimination is illegal and you can take legal action against it.

This article is aimed to enlighten you about 12 types of discrimination in the workplace and how to deal with workplace discrimination if it happens to you.

What Is Discrimination in the Workplace?

You might be familiar with the word “discrimination”, but do you know what it really means and how it applies in the context of your job or workplace?

Discrimination in the workplace means treating a person or a group of people differently based on their race, religion, culture, sex, gender, or other protected characteristic.


Employment discrimination is prejudicial treatment in the workplace that may have a direct or indirect effect on firing, hiring, promotions, responsibilities, or training because of race, age, gender, religion, nationality, physical or mental disabilities, and other characteristics of a protected class. 

Employment discrimination can happen anywhere at the office, outside the office (during some meetings outside the office premises), or in public places such as a subway station or a shopping mall. You, or the victim, can be discriminated against by coworkers, managers, business owners, clients, or other people directly associated with the company of employment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for protecting you and other employees from any type of discrimination in the workplace. Both federal law and local laws prohibit this and employees have the right to file a lawsuit if they are a victim of employment discrimination.

12 Types of Discrimination in the Workplace

The anti-discrimination laws in California protect employees who feel they have been or are being discriminated against in the workplace. Employees can file a complaint with the EEOC and pursue a claim with the help of an employment discrimination lawyer.

Workplace or employment discrimination isn’t limited to just these 12 types, but these are the most common types of discrimination current or prospective employees experience. 

  1. Discrimination Based on Race or Color

Racial discrimination involves denying equal rights to individuals or a group of people because they belong to a particular race or have characteristics associated with a certain race, such as facial features, hair texture, speech patterns, and more.

Discrimination based on color involves giving people with a specific skin color more advantages or fewer advantages as compared to people with different skin colors.

Color and racial discrimination in the workplace may also be taken against an individual that is associated with someone who belongs to a specific race or has a specific skin color. For instance, if an employee receives unfavorable treatment because their spouse is of a different race.

The outcomes of race and color discrimination can affect an employee’s or a group of employees’ hiring, job security, promotions, leadership opportunities, and respect at the workplace. They also might be experiencing harassment from coworkers or managers.

  1. Discrimination Based on Religion or Religious Beliefs

Religious discrimination involves denying a person equal employment rights or benefits other employees get because of the individual’s religion or religious beliefs. This type of discrimination in the workplace can take the form of discharging, refusing to hire, denying promotions, harassing, or not giving general perks to the person. It can also mean not making certain accommodations, like prayer breaks or days off, so the person can observe their religious beliefs.

  1. Discrimination Based on National Origin

If an employment practice or policy applies to all employees of the organization, but negatively affects the employees of a specific national origin, it is considered discrimination on the basis of national origin.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 prohibits employers from knowingly hiring, recruiting, or referring for a fee to any alien who is unauthorized to work. It was passed in an effort to combat illegal immigration and employment, but unfortunately, it has been used as an excuse to discriminate against all people of certain nationalities.

Many employers violate discrimination laws against employees or applicants based on their immigration status and citizenship or nationality. However, sometimes it is lawful if the organization’s authorities objectively prove the complexities involved in a certain employment position because of geographical location.

You should consult an employment lawyer from the Hershey Law firm to learn more if your employers have discriminated against you, or someone you know, based on national origin.

  1. Discrimination Based on Military Status

Discrimination on the basis of military status involves denying equal employment rights or employee benefits to a person because of their service or obligation of their past, current, and future membership in a uniformed service.

Military status discrimination can take the form of failing to reemploy, failing to promote, harassing, and other forms of discrimination against the person. It might also include not offering the benefits other employees of the same level get.

For example: 

Suppose an employee is fired because they leave their employment for a certain time period to fulfill their obligation of serving for a military deployment or training. In that case, it can be considered discrimination on the basis of military status.

  1. Discrimination Based on Disability

Discrimination on the basis of disability involves denying equal employment rights to people with specific disabilities. This type of discrimination may also take place during the time of hiring new applicants if the employers ask disability-related questions or request a medical exam even if what the job the applicants have applied for is unrelated.

However, employers do have the right to ask the employees or applicants disability-related questions or request a medical exam to support an employee’s request for reasonable accommodation at the workplace.

In some cases, a medical exam may be requested if the current medical condition of the employee is suspected to prevent them from safely and successfully fulfilling their job role.

Are you a victim of disability discrimination and want to know if you can file a lawsuit against the employers? Contact Hershey Law at 310-929-2190 and our experienced discrimination lawyers will evaluate your case to see if you should file a lawsuit. We’ll also assist you throughout the case to help you win fair compensation.

  1. Discrimination Based on Pregnancy

Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy may involve the denial of leave to the employee. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants employees 12 weeks of leave during pregnancy or childbirth or for any related medical condition that can occur during pregnancy or childbirth.

Discrimination may also involve denying equal employment rights because the worker is pregnant or is a new mother. Pregnancy discrimination can be in the form of failing to reemploy, failing to promote, terminating, or denying other employee benefits.

Don’t suffer due to discrimination in the workplace, hire the best pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Hershey Law and get your job back or the benefits you deserve.

  1. Discrimination Based on Genetic Information

Genetic information is defined as the information related to the genetic testing of a person or people associated with that person, such as family members.

Workplace discrimination on the basis of genetic information may involve treating an employee differently because of their genetic information, such as their family’s medical history or other things mentioned in their genetic report.

Disclosing the genetic report without the person’s consent can also cause workplace discrimination because it may or may not affect their respect in the workplace. It is illegal to share the genetic information of current employees and applicants.

However, there are two exceptions when the employers can share such details, including if a court order requests those details or if any officials from any government agency investigating genetic discrimination claims ask for these details.

  1. Discrimination Based on Sex

Discrimination on the basis of sex involves denying equal employment rights or opportunities to an employee because of their sex. This type of discrimination in the workplace may also include treating an employee differently because they are pregnant or based on gender stereotypes.

Additionally, sex discrimination can include treating an employee less favorably than others because of their gender identity or the gender identity of the people they associate with at work or outside of work.

This workplace discrimination can take the form of terminating, refusing to hire, harassing, failing to promote, or making derogatory comments about an employee because of their gender identity.

For Example

If an employer provides fewer benefits to the female staff because of their sex, it is illegal and falls under sex discrimination in the workplace.

  1. Harassment

Harassment can be of different types, but the most common type people experience at their workplace is sexual harassment. It is illegal to request sexual favors, make uninvited sexual advances, or harass someone verbally, such as using sexist remarks.

If the employer or anyone in the workplace harasses or retaliates against an individual because they denied their request for sexual favors, this is considered discrimination. Moreover, discrimination can happen against a person who testifies, files a complaint, or participates in an investigation of harassment charges.

Harassment in the workplace violates three laws, including:

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Federal Law)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act 1967 (ADEA)

Some other examples of harassment in the workplace are:

  • Derogatory jokes
  • Unwelcome comments
  • Ethnic or racial slurs
  1. Retaliation

This type of workplace discrimination occurs when an employee or group of employees suffer a “detriment” or they feel that they are a victim of harmful behavior because they are exercising their employment rights and are suspected of doing one of the following things in good faith:

  • Supporting a complaint of discrimination against anyone within the workplace.
  • Making an allegation of discrimination against the managers or higher authorities.
  • Giving evidence relating to a complaint of discrimination in the workplace.
  • Doing anything for the purpose of supporting a harassment claim, such as testifying to an employment tribunal investigating discrimination or communicating with HR about employment discrimination or harassment.

You or any other employee could be a victim of retaliation if you do any of the things listed above. The consequences of pursuing a complaint can be being ignored, left out, denied promotion, not accommodated, and more. A discrimination lawyer can help you get the rightful benefits you deserve. Give Hershey Law a call at 310-929-2190 and we’ll assist you in filing a workplace discrimination lawsuit against the offenders.

  1. Discrimination Based on Age

Suppose an employment practice or policy negatively affects an employee or prevents them from getting the basic benefits other workers get because of their age. In that case, it is considered discrimination on the basis of age.

This type of discrimination may result in failure to reemploy, termination, unexplained layoff, no training, refused promotions, poor job assignments, shorter lunch breaks, and more because of the employee’s age.

According to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), age discrimination in the workplace against people older than 40 is considered illegal and punishable. File a lawsuit with the help of an age discrimination lawyer and fight against wrongful termination or other outcomes of workplace discrimination due to age.

  1. Discrimination Based on Family Responsibility

Family responsibility is an umbrella term for discrimination in the workplace based on biases about how employees with caregiving responsibilities are acting or should act. Employers may act upon discrimination biases when a worker’s family responsibilities change, such as when a family member falls ill or a child is born that requires caretaking.

For Example

It can be considered family responsibility discrimination if an employer refuses to reemploy or give assignments to a worker because of their caretaking responsibilities. This can also include such employees being treated differently or offered lesser benefits than other employers or the benefits they used to get before such conditions arose.

Are You a Victim of Workplace Discrimination? What Should You Do?

If you or someone you know has been subject to discrimination in the workplace by the employer, managers, co-workers, HR, or anyone else in the workplace, you should do the following things:

Document Everything 

Take note of everything that happened and describe in detail how the discrimination against you in the workplace affected you and your job performance. Be sure to also collect and save any pictures, videos, emails, memos, or other documented evidence that can help you prove the charge.

Go Through Your Employer’s Anti-Discriminatory Policies 

It would be great to read and document the employer’s anti-discriminatory policies listed in the employee handbook or on their website. For example, some employers make it mandatory for applicants to go through a medical examination because it’s related to how to perform the job. Therefore, it may not be considered workplace discrimination.

Contact the EEOC 

You should contact the EEOC (state or federal agency) at the earliest in order to file a complaint of discrimination against the involved people. You should also file the complaint with the internal HR department.

Hire discrimination lawyers

Hiring an attorney who specializes in employment law and discrimination cases is indispensable to seeking legal help and filing a lawsuit against the offenders. An employment lawyer will know the ins and outs of California employment laws and can thoroughly explain your options. They can assist in winning compensation for specific benefits you deserved, but did not receive.

Hershey Law Is Here to Help!

If you have been a victim of any type of discrimination in the workplace, the lawyers at Hershey Law are here to assist. We are experienced, confident, and reputed employment lawyers in California that fight for the rights of our clients and help them get justice.

Raising your voice against workplace discrimination is important, so give us a call at 310-929-2190 to request a free consultation and discuss your discrimination case or to learn more about discrimination law.

Our law firm will leave no stone unturned in assisting you with your claim and use all our knowledge and experience to help you get the compensation you deserve.