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5 different types of discrimination in the workplace

It is unlawful for anyone to discriminate against another in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces laws intended to stop discrimination from happening. Unfortunately, many employees don't realize they are being discriminated against or what qualifies as discrimination. Before you can determine if you are a victim of discrimination, you must first understand what qualifies under the term.

1. Disability discrimination

If any entity or individual covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act is discriminated against because of the disability, it's unlawful. Even if an employer treats an individual differently after a disability, or feels the employee has a disability and treats her or him poorly, the employer may be discriminating. One example is an employee who is treated poorly when he or she comes back to work after a bout with cancer.

2. Age discrimination

If an employee or applicant is treated differently because of age, this is considered age discrimination. This condition only covers those over the age of 40. It is also illegal to harass any individual because of their age. Discrimination in the workplace is illegal when it comes to job assignments, training, layoffs, hiring, firing, promotions or any other term of employment.

3. Pregnancy discrimination

A pregnant woman should be treated as any other employee who is temporarily disabled. Pregnant women must be given disability leave, unpaid leave, light duty and alternative assignments when requested. Under the FMLA, new parents are also allowed to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave when a new baby is born.

4. Color and race discrimination

Any derogatory or offensive remarks, racial slurs of racially offensive symbols in the workplace are against the law. Joking, teasing comments and isolated incidents may not be considered discrimination, but if the joking turns to harassment because of one's race or color, it should be treated seriously. Harassment doesn't have to be from supervisor to an employee at a lower position; it can happen between any two people in the office.

5. Religious discrimination

No segregation in the workplace can occur because of someone's religious beliefs. Any grooming practices or clothing related to religion should not affect the way the employee is treated or what assignments she or he is given. If an employee's religious practices do not majorly disrupt the office and place a large burden on operations, then reasonable accommodations should be made for certain practices.

If you are concerned that you have been part of workplace discrimination or seen it in action with another employee, an attorney may be able to help you decide how to protect your job and end workplace discrimination.

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