Understanding Direct Vs. Indirect Workplace Discrimination 

Personal Injury News | March 23, 2024

Discrimination in the workplace in New York may take various forms and occur for different reasons. No matter how someone experiences discrimination in the workplace, it is prohibited. Identifying discriminatory practices in the workplace and taking action under New York employment law will lead to better protection from prohibited behaviors in the workplace.

New York Law Protects Against Discrimination

Discrimination is the unjust or prejudiced action toward an individual or class. These actions lead to treating an individual or group differently than another. New York labor laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace, and a New York labor lawyer will fight against these injustices impacting employees.

While some acts of discrimination are obvious or direct, other actions are not as evident but are still a form of indirect discrimination. Looking at each type of discrimination and the examples below will help employees identify these practices and seek help immediately.

Direct Discrimination and Who It Impacts in the Workplace

The treatment of an employee that is different or unfair based on specific protected characteristics is a form of direct discrimination. Some of these protected characteristics include:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Marital status
  • National origin, citizenship, or immigration status
  • Predisposed genetic characteristics
  • Sex or sexual orientation

Even though this discrimination is direct, it may not always be apparent. Any prohibited act under the law may be identified as direct discrimination.

Example of Direct Discrimination

John is a high producer for his team and surpasses Bill in sales, as well possessing the ability to lead and follow company guidelines. Bill’s sales often lag behind John’s. Bill periodically comes in to work late and has noted deficits in his quarterly performance reviews.

John has a natural hairstyle reflecting his African descent. All employees are required to wear the same uniform. When a management opportunity arises, John is passed over, and the position is filled by Bill, with the hiring authorities stating that Bill’s appearance reflects a professional standard. John’s exclusion from this management position may be impacted by his natural hair texture and style and likely result from direct discrimination practices.

Indirect Discrimination and Who It Impacts in the Workplace

Groups of employees are impacted by indirect discrimination. The appearance that workplace decisions are not targeting one individual can make it challenging to identify acts of indirect discrimination aimed at particular groups. Acts of indirect discrimination may appear subtle, making them more challenging to pinpoint. Unfortunately, indirect discrimination often goes unnoticed in the workplace.

Example of Indirect Discrimination

A management position is rumored to be opening up in the new year in a company dominated mainly by males. Midway through January, male employees are discussing the new management position and the application deadline for the job.

However, the few female employees discover they received no job posting announcement, excluding them from the possibility of applying for the position. Without discussing the email announcing the job, the female employees may have remained unaware that only male employees were targeted as potential hires, resulting in indirect discrimination.

Take Action Against New York Workplace Discrimination

If you or a group of individuals are experiencing discrimination in the workplace, take the steps outlined in this post. Begin documenting the discriminatory act immediately.

A lawsuit may be necessary to address discrimination in the workplace. Support and options are available to protect against these illegal practices. Request a free consultation today.