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Direct Vs. Indirect Workplace Discrimination: Everything You Should Know 

kind of discrimination in the workplace

Discrimination in the workplace is one of the most unpleasant things an employee can endure. Things get even more complicated when employees don’t know they are being discriminated against.

While several employment laws in New York prohibit discrimination, it still happens. Most employees know what discrimination is, but not everyone knows the difference between direct and indirect discrimination.

This article will tell you everything about the kinds of discrimination in the workplace, the difference between them, and what to do if you experience workplace discrimination.

Direct Vs. Indirect Discrimination: Definition and Examples

Both direct and indirect discrimination are prohibited by law, and there are policies that help the victims take action against them. The main difference between these types of discrimination is that direct discrimination is evident. Indirect discrimination also affects employees, but in a subtle way that might go unnoticed.

Below we have explained both types of workplace discrimination in detail, along with examples.

What is Direct Discrimination?

Direct discrimination happens when the employer treats you differently or, to be precise, unfairly simply because of your protected characteristics. The protected attributes can include sex, national origin, race, age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, pregnancy, and more.

Other employees that don’t have any of these protected attributes don’t receive this negative treatment, which confirms that you are a victim of direct discrimination at the workplace.

However, direct discrimination is not always obvious. And it can be difficult to prove it because of its subtle nature. Discrimination in the workplace, even if it is aimed at a group of employees, doesn’t have to be blatant to qualify as direct discrimination.

In order to be unlawful, the discrimination must have happened in a situation that’s covered by the Equality Act.

Examples of Direct Discrimination

  • Direct Discrimination on the Basis of Gender or Gender Discrimination

You are a good saleswoman and suddenly receive a job shift from your employer because they think a salesman would be more suitable for the job. This could be a less favorable treatment on the basis of gender, and it qualifies as direct discrimination.

Also, if you lose the salary increment and other benefits because of your gender, it could be discrimination and similar discriminatory practices.

  • Direct Discrimination on the basis of Race or Racial Discrimination

A company proposes different times for a meeting for the white and black communities. This is a deliberate policy by the company to establish a difference between both communities. It is unlawful and qualifies as discrimination in the workplace.

  • Direct Discrimination on the basis of Pregnancy 

An employer rejecting your job application because you are pregnant can be considered workplace discrimination. Unfair treatment based on someone’s pregnancy status is unlawful as per the law.

  • Direct Discrimination on the basis of Someone Else’s Protected Characteristics 

If you are being treated differently in the workplace because your sister has changed their sex with surgery, it is direct discrimination. Not getting invited to social events, and not being allowed to associate with other employers, could be some obvious signs of this direct discrimination against you.

Do you suspect your employer is discriminating against you, and it can qualify as direct discrimination? Contact Levine & Blit, and our experienced employment lawyers will help you deal with it legally.

From sending a legal notice to your employer to representing you in court, we ensure you don’t suffer from discrimination anymore and get all the employment benefits you deserve as per the law.

Call us at 866-312-5923 for a free case evaluation.

What is Indirect Discrimination?

While direct discrimination targets individual employees with protected personal characteristics, indirect discrimination affects a group of employees. It may look like all employees are being treated in the same way, but the policies can be disadvantageous to a particular group.

Policies such as employees having to wear their hair in a certain way. It can negatively affect a group of employees with a different hair texture because they cannot comply with this policy.

Indirect discrimination happens subtly, making it go unnoticed most of the time, and employees don’t know they are being discriminated against.

As per New York and federal law, this type of workplace discrimination is unlawful.

Examples of Indirect Discrimination

  • Indirect Discrimination on the Basis of Sex 

A business recruiting for a head of sales only advertises the job among male job applicants, such as by sending them emails. Female employees aren’t involved in the hiring, irrespective of their capabilities. This means the business could be discriminating indirectly based on sex.

  • Indirect Discrimination on the Basis of Age

If the job advert for the head of sales includes a phrase that only people under 50 can apply for the job, it can also qualify as indirect discrimination.

However, if the job requires taking a lot of stress, or it might have some scientific reasons why people above 50 shouldn’t apply, then it does not fall under indirect discrimination. 

  • Indirect Discrimination on the Basis of Religion 

A company notifies its employees that no one can take leaves on Eid. Employees belonging to other religions might be unaffected by the decision, but it may negatively affect Muslim employees and their religious beliefs.

Where Does the Difference Lie and Why Does it Matter?

The primary difference between direct and indirect discrimination lies in “nature.” While direct discrimination is evident, indirect discrimination has a subtle nature. There are no other major differences between both.

Now, the point is, why does the difference matter? Well, there is a big difference between both types of workplace discrimination when it comes to proving them.

Due to its nature, it is easier to prove direct indiscrimination. On the other hand, proving indirect discrimination can be challenging. Most of the time, the victims fail to gather enough evidence to file charges against their boss or employer.

Also, in order to make your complaint, you need to set out a specific type of discrimination in the form. The law also requires you to explain the facts of how you are a victim of workplace discrimination. Getting it right is important because you cannot amend your complaint once you submit it for the jury’s consideration.

Sometimes, a company’s policy might not be discriminating against the employees, but the employees think that they are being discriminated against.

For example:

A mining company might introduce policies that prevent hiring employees over the age of 50. While this may look like age discrimination, it is not! The strenuous job requires younger candidates who can spend more time working on the site.

Here’s a table that shows the difference between indirect and direct discrimination and why it matters.

What if My Case Isn’t Indirect or Direct Discrimination?

There may be some instances where you may think your case does not qualify both as direct and indirect discrimination. However, it does not mean that you are not being discriminated against. Here are some other types of discrimination that might be affecting you:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Victimization
  • Workplace harassment
  • Not making reasonable adjustments (not having facilities that can accommodate people with disabilities)

Deciding what type of workplace discrimination is affecting your professional and personal life can be difficult. However, with the help of professional employment attorneys in New York, you can understand if you are a victim of discrimination and what action to take next.

Call Levine & Blit at 866-312-5923 for a free case evaluation. We are expert employment attorneys that are well-versed with the New York and federal employment laws such as the Civil Rights Act. We don’t afraid of the “big names,” so you can count on us to get justice.

State and Federal Anti-discrimination Laws

There are plenty of laws in the United States that prohibit employers from discriminating against employees. Here are a few laws to protect you from discrimination in the workplace.

  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963

As per the Equal Pay Act, any employer in the USA cannot discriminate against their employees based on any protected class when it comes to wages. For example, the employer must pay every employee equally for the same role irrespective of gender identity and disabilities.

  • The Equality Act

The Equality Act protects employees, even outside the workplace, from pregnancy discrimination, disability discrimination or being discriminated against based on their protected attributes, such as gender, age, sexual orientation, and more.

  • N.Y State Human Rights Law

The State also has some laws in place, such as the “New York State Human Rights Law” to prevent workplace discrimination. The law prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees based on certain protected attributes in employment, credit, housing, and places of public accommodations.

Regarding employment, this State law makes it an “illegal practice” for an employer “to discharge or to bar from employment or denying hiring or employing” because of an individual’s protected attributes.

And there are multiple laws that prohibit workplace discrimination in any form. It’s important to hire a professional attorney when filing a discrimination charge against your employer. 

Contact Levine and Blit to explore the available options and file a complaint with the right department, such as EEOC or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Are the Employment Benefits You Receive for Direct and Indirect Discrimination the Same?

While there are differences between direct and indirect workplace discrimination, the benefits you receive are almost the same. If your employee is paying you or a specific group differently from other employees, it can qualify as direct and indirect discrimination.

The employment benefits you receive by filing a charge of discrimination are the same irrespective of the nature of discrimination.

However, in order to receive the benefits, it is essential to prove your discrimination claim. The chances of proving your claims are higher in case of direct discrimination because of an abundance of evidence.

On the other hand, proving indirect discrimination is daunting, so there is less chance of receiving employment benefits.

Irrespective of the type of workplace discrimination you are experiencing, it is important to hire professional attorneys that understand the employment laws.

How to Fight Direct and Indirect Discrimination

Fighting both types of workplace discrimination has a similar approach that we’ve discussed below. Irrespective of the type of discrimination you are experiencing, you can follow these steps to fight against it.

Contact the HR

The HR should be your first point of contact. Talk to your HR regarding the discrimination you are experiencing. Sometimes things sort out within the first phase, such as you can get an explanation from HR related to your salary.

Gather Evidence

If the discrimination doesn’t stop even after talking to HR, it means you should file a complaint against it. Gather any evidence, such as emails you have received, pay slips, and more that can help you prove your claims.

✍️ Note 

Under New York’s eavesdropping law, it is illegal to record someone’s telephonic or in-person conversations without their consent. In order to make your claims valid, you need to take care of this.

Hire an Attorney

A legal professional will help validate your claims, such as if there is enough evidence to stand a case against your employer. Also, employment discrimination lawyers in New York explain the anti-discriminatory laws to you while telling you about the available options.

File a Complaint

With the help of a workplace discrimination attorney, you can file a complaint against your employer with the right department. The lawyers will take care of all the paperwork while helping you get all the employment benefits that you deserve.

Contact Levine & Blit for Any Type of Workplace Discrimination

Whether you are a victim of direct or indirect discrimination, you should stand against it. At Levine & Blit, we assist you with all the legal help you need to send a notice to your employer or file a complaint.

Our experienced employment lawyers will help you decide what action to take keeping in mind your best interests.

Call us at 866-312-5923 to speak to one of our expert attorneys, and discuss your case in detail.

Contact Levine & Blit, PLLC

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