How to Handle Discrimination in the Workplace

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Discrimination in the Workplace

As an employer, you have to protect your workers' safety, as well as your business. Protection includes ensuring there are no workplace discrimination claims. Discrimination entails treating a person or group of people less favorably than another person or group. With workplace discrimination claims on the rise, businesses need to invest in EPLI insurance, while implementing best practices to handle these claims as they arise.

The following are some examples of types of discrimination and what you can do to ensure that you avoid them.

1. Gender Discrimination

Despite the progress made over the decades to ensure gender equality in most workplaces, there is still much to do. When someone is treated worse than other colleagues because of their gender, that is gender discrimination.

Some examples of gender discrimination include failing to promote an employee, giving an employee low wages, treating an employee unfairly, and giving an employee less support because of their gender. All of the above are illegal practices.

While gender and sex usually do not mean the same thing, they are used together to mean the same thing in discrimination laws.

Although men have reported cases of gender discrimination, mostly women are the ones suffering from this practice. Here are the different types of gender discrimination that can occur while at the workplace.

Pregnancy discrimination

Companies may hesitate to hire female employees because they can get pregnant. When women get pregnant, they need to leave their place of work for some time. Many women will miss getting senior positions or even promotions because of this.

In some instances, employed mothers are earning less than their male counterparts. Regardless of their qualifications or experience, women are penalized when they take time off to give birth or receive prenatal care.


In this current male-dominated society, women are more likely to be the victims of harassment than men. While most of the cases are reported by women, men can experience harassment too, however.

Harassment can involve the use of derogatory terms or unwanted advances from a co-worker or boss.

Pay gap

Most employers will not be transparent about how they come up with their pay rates. However, under federal laws, "It is illegal for any employer to discriminate an employee based on their race, color, religion, or nationality."

Even still, studies continue to show that some women are earning less than men doing the same job.

Glass ceiling

Most women are not given a chance to hold senior management roles. Because of this, they end up hitting a glass ceiling in their careers, unable to break through and climb up the ladder. This means they won't be able to gain additional experience to progress their career.

Steps for employers to prevent gender discrimination

Making your workers feel comfortable and appreciated is a way of motivating them. The latter is done by increasing transparency and providing family-friendly insurance plans. Additionally, you can provide training on gender discrimination and introduce a zero-tolerance gender discrimination policy.

2. Ageism

Ageism is one of the least discussed types of discrimination. It is the discrimination of a person based on their age. Recent trends show that most people 45 years old and above are less likely to be hired than those who are younger, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Older employees are not given support to grow as employees. The lack of proper support could lead to older employees being removed from performing certain tasks like lifting or carrying.

Lack of socialization with young employees might lead to older employees feeling isolated. It's important for any company to work together. If some members are not feeling a part of the team, this affects productivity. Instead of being isolated, older employees should be seen as having experience that they can offer to the team.

Fighting ageism

Having a policy laid out for protecting and appreciating aging employees is essential. In return, younger employees will see the company as a long-term workplace and be loyal to the company.

Work to be more inclusive so that your business does not discriminate against or favor a certain age range. You can reassure applicants that they won't be discriminated against based on their age differences during the hiring process. The blind hiring system is an excellent way to ensure you're providing equal hiring opportunities.

In addition, you may want to have a well-thought-out retirement plan. A retirement plan is crucial as it shows employees you appreciate their services through the years.

3. Religious Discrimination

Religious discrimination is when a company treats employees differently based on their religious beliefs and practices. Treating employees differently due to a lack of religious beliefs, on the other hand, can also be considered religious discrimination.

Other than being illegal, religious discrimination can affect an employee's emotions, physicality, and mental health. Religious discrimination creates a hostile working environment.

Every employee has the right to exercise their religious practices and beliefs. Additionally, a lack of religious beliefs, like atheism, needs to be respected.

Refusal to accommodate religious practices is among the most common types of religious discrimination. Other instances can occur when someone is fired or terminated due to religious beliefs and practices.

Religious discrimination is a serious issue, and every employer should create a conducive environment for their workers no matter their religion. Be clear about your discrimination in your employee handbook, and offer workers religious discrimination training so they understand exactly what is unacceptable. Having a defined complaint process can make employees feel safer and even deter other employees from discriminating against someone for any reason.

4. Sexual Harassment

An employer's responsibility is to provide a working environment that is free from sexual harassment and other types of discrimination. Preventing sexual harassment is not only a legal requirement but also helps in increasing the morale of your workers.

Sexual harassment entails unwelcome verbal and/or physical conduct of any sexual nature and/or requests for sexual favors. The accuser's perception of conduct will always determine if it is sexual harassment.

Sexual conduct training will help employees recognize what behaviors are considered sexual harassment. An environment in which employees are free to raise concerns about sexual conduct is also essential. Having a good plan and policies to avoid sexual harassment in place will help educate your employees on sexual conduct and enable them to speak up when they feel discriminated against.

Preventing sexual harassment

Making the process of reporting sexual harassment more accessible is a way of preventing it from happening again. Companies should provide a variety of ways to report harassment. It is essential to provide training to your employees that focuses on what sexual harassment entails and what to do if you experience it or see it happening.

Studies have shown that most sexual harassment cases in the workplace occur between men in senior positions and women in subordinate positions. Note that this does not rule out a sexual harassment case where a man is the victim; it just points out that women employees are more likely to be sexually harassed.

Most sexually harassed employees fail to come out with the information because they are afraid to face wrongful termination]. Therefore, it is essential for you to create a system where reporting sexual harassment cases does not reveal the victim's identity. This can be achieved by setting up a human resource department and a committee of individuals to listen to and investigate sexual harassment cases.

How to Protect Your Business from Discrimimation Claims

Any of these discrimination claims can be an expensive reality for your company. An employer liability insurance policy for California or any other state will help protect your company from EPLI claims scenarios for various types of discrimination, wrongful termination, or even failure to promote. This policy will help you avoid liability when defending against lawsuits.

EPLI policies will help cover any claims, from injury to physical or verbal harassment. Having the right EPLI policies will cover the defense costs and also damages from such claims.

Contact a CoverWallet consultant to understand how we can help your company with EPLI coverage limits and protecting your business.