Indianapolis Employment Law Blog

Unconscious physical reactions to racial discrimination

When you experience racial discrimination and rejection, it impacts you in many ways. Some of these, you are probably well aware of. You feel angry. You feel frustrated. It makes you irate, as it should. Discrimination is not just illegal, but it is an attack on a personal level to things outside of your control.

However, did you know that your body responds in some ways that you may not even be conscious of? Researchers studied it, and one noted that "the race of the person who rejects you alters the responses to social rejection."

What does workplace retaliation look like?

One reason that employees sometimes fail to report things like safety violations and sexual harassment is that they worry about retaliation. If they make that report, is it going to negatively impact their career? Employees often feel like they have to choose between taking a stand and keeping a steady paycheck for their families. That allows a lot of issues to get swept under the rug as they pick their families and their careers.

That being said, retaliation is illegal. If you file a complaint, your company cannot take action against you. Employees still worry about it, and it does still happen, but those who experience it need to know that they have legal options.

Subtle forms of workplace discrimination

Many women face multiple forms of discrimination at work. You might think that this discrimination is glaring and bold, such as denying a woman a promotion or keeping them from executive-level positions.

While this is true in some cases, there are often more subtle forms of discrimination and undermining women face at work. The bigger, more clear forms of discrimination are wrong, but the smaller examples should not be ignored either.

Signs of sexual harassment for victims and harassers

If you're trying to keep an eye out for sexual harassment in the workplace, it can be a bit harder to identify it these days. Most people understand that it's illegal and that there are ramifications. That doesn't mean it won't happen, but they may try harder to hide it or to disguise it as something else.

To help you see what's happening, here are some signs that a person is being harassed:

  • They start missing shifts and failing to show up for work more often.
  • Employee turnover rates increase as people leave for new jobs.
  • They can't seem to focus on the task at hand.
  • They seem to have a low opinion of the job and low employee morale overall.
  • They wear clothes that cover up the physical signs of harassment.

The long-term impact of workplace discrimination

Workplace discrimination can have a massive impact on the rest of your life, even after you leave that workplace and avoid the constant abuse. It can change the way you think and feel for years to come. Naturally, it can also have a drastic impact on your career, which also leads to some of these mental and emotional issues.

For instance, while working as a delivery driver, one man said that he constantly got punished for little mistakes that other drivers were allowed to make. He alleged that it was because he was African American, while these other drivers were white.

The reason workers often accept dangerous conditions

When you look at workplace accidents and injuries, you often find that workers were forced to work in dangerous conditions for a long time before they actually got hurt. It can leave you scratching your head, wondering why they would put up with it when they risked life-changing and even fatal injuries. Why wouldn't they refuse to work or complain about the lack of safety?

It's very easy to say this after the fact. In retrospect, injured workers likely wish they had spoken up. Unfortunately, the reason that many of them neglect to do so is simple: They're worried about retaliation.

Social media may help to spur sexual harassment claims

It is impossible to count all of the ways that social media has changed how we interact and communicate in the modern day. This evolution of the internet has had a massive impact on all areas of American culture.

One thing that it is now being linked to is the growing trend of sexual harassment claims in the workplace. It may help to spur those claims, either by giving employees an outlet for their complaints or by giving the perpetrators another way to harass their victims. After all, messages and pictures sent on social media could constitute harassment in many cases.

Recognizing subtle forms of workplace discrimination

When many employees think of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, they think of blatant, obvious comments, actions or behaviors. However, workplace discrimination or harassment does not always take the form of an obviously inappropriate action.

According to a 2018 study, 64 percent of women across the country endured “microaggressions” in the workplace, or gender-based subtle discriminatory actions. Subtle forms of discrimination can be very damaging but more difficult to recognize. Additionally, it can be challenging to know what, if anything, to do about it.

Why does discrimination even exist?

You know what discrimination is when you see it. It's a worker getting fired because of their age. It's a promotion going to a man over a more-qualified woman simply because of her gender. It's a company giving all of the less desirable jobs to workers of a certain ethnicity.

But why does it happen? No matter what it looks like -- (those are merely three examples out of many) -- why do people engage in this type of behavior? Why is it something that workers have to worry about?

Sexual harassment is common in the medical community

The unfortunate reality, which has become more clear in recent years, is that workplace sexual harassment seems to be common in almost every single industry. If you thought there was a stereotypical industry that contained most harassment cases or that there were "safe" industries where that sort of thing did not happen, you're probably wrong. It can and does happen anywhere.

To really underscore this point, recent reports show just how common harassment is in the medical community. About four percent of male doctors and medical professionals claimed they had faced harassment in just the last three years. It's even higher for female medical workers, coming in right around 10 percent. Again, that's just in the last few years, so the percentages are likely higher if you consider harassment over the course of an entire career.

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