HUMAN RESOURCES / DEC. 01, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How to Deal with Discrimination

Discrimination is the unfair treatment of someone on the basis of certain characteristics that define them. This could be race, gender, age, religion, disability or ethnicity. Many people have experienced different forms of discrimination in the workplace. Some have been passed over for promotion due to their age or ethnicity, while others have been dismissed from their jobs due to pregnancy.

Here are some tips for dealing with discrimination:

1. Be sure you are dealing with discrimination

At times, someone might wrongly perceive that they are being discriminated against. Therefore, before making an accusation against an organization or an individual, confirm if your claim is valid. Analyze the situation from different angles to determine if indeed you were a victim of discrimination. Look at your national and local laws regarding discrimination, as well as your company’s discrimination policy. If necessary, you could talk to a legal professional or lawyer.

2. Think of the consequences

Reporting discrimination could result in unfavorable consequences. For instance, your manager might seek to have you dismissed if you report cases of discrimination in your organization. Therefore, before blowing the horn, find out if the laws of your country are able to protect you from such consequences. Reporting incidences of discrimination could end up protecting future employees from further victimization.

3. Collect evidence

Before reporting a case of discrimination, be sure to collect as much evidence as possible. This could be copies of documents such as termination letters, performance appraisals or warning letters. However, make sure you are not violating any laws while collecting this evidence. At times, it might be difficult to get hard evidence of discrimination. For example, you cannot document a claim that you were overlooked for promotion because of your age or gender. In such cases, you could simply write down what happened, the date and time it occurred, and who witnessed the incident.  

4. Reporting discrimination

Discrimination should be reported in accordance to your company’s discrimination policy or grievance procedure. You could also consult a human resource professional or a lawyer before making a formal complaint. Don’t minimize the issue or make it look less serious than it is. Be assertive and make it clear that the behavior you are reporting is unacceptable to you. Back up your claims using the evidence collected. If you feel that your company is not taking the complaint seriously, you could consider approaching a regulatory or government agency.

5. Coping with discrimination

At times, issues of discrimination might take a long time to resolve, if at all. In some cases, raising a complaint could result in a backlash from organization, boss or co-workers. Therefore, you need to learn how to cope with the resulting hardship or stress. For instance, if the discrimination makes you angry, you could use anger management strategies to manage your emotions. You could also reach out to family members and friends for support. Having such support will help you deal with feelings of isolation and stress.

Facing discrimination at work can be very traumatic, frustrating and stressful. However, applying the tips mentioned above can help you deal effectively with such situations.

 

Image: iStock

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