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2 examples of indirect discrimination in the workplace 

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Employment Law

Discrimination is conduct that puts people of a certain race, religious background, gender, sexuality or other protected characteristic at a disadvantage. Often, discrimination is direct- an individual or individuals are directly treated poorly based on protected characteristics. However, discrimination can also be indirect. 

Indirect discrimination involves workplace policies and procedures that apply to all workers, but place only some workers at a significant disadvantage. Outlined below are some common examples of indirect discrimination.

Indirect disability discrimination

Studies indicate that there are over 40 million people in America with disabilities. These disabilities range from minor to severe and have different impacts on employment. Disabilities do not necessarily impact an individual’s ability to carry out their job to a high standard. 

Indirect disability discrimination occurs when a policy applies to all workers, but negatively impacts those with disabilities. For example, if a company makes mandatory multiple choice training exams part of the job, it may put some people with disabilities at a disadvantage. This indirect discrimination could easily be avoided by allowing exams to be completed in different formats, such as in writing or verbally. 

Indirect religious discrimination 

Indirect religious discrimination occurs when a workplace policy applies to everyone, but negatively impacts only those who practice a certain religion. Often this type of discrimination relates to work schedules. For example, an employer may make it mandatory for all workers to come in on Saturdays. While this policy applies to everyone, it may only negatively impact those who require Saturdays to be a day of religious observance.

Again, this is an issue that could most likely be resolved by the reasonable accommodation of having a slightly more flexible work schedule. 

Just because discrimination is indirect, that doesn’t mean it is not a serious issue. If you feel you have been treated differently based on a protected characteristic, it may be time to seek legal guidance.