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Readers Respond: Have You Witnessed or Experienced Discrimination in Your Workplace: Even Subtly?

Responses: 52


I'm on a lifelong mission to help people focus on their similarities, not their differences. It's a tough road because discrimination is often subtle, rarely talked about, and usually, unwitting. Otherwise caring, educated people would be shocked to recognize how their upbringing, world view, and environment influence their thinking – often unintentionally and unknowingly. Won’t you take a moment to share your discrimination stories? Have you or someone you know been discriminated against in the workplace because of “differences” due to race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, or another characteristic that differs among people? Have you witnessed acts of discrimination by others, wittingly or unwittingly? If so, share your discrimination story.

See More Reader Responses.

Was a manager

Being the only female manager, all managers took a trip together every year, I was never invited or compensated otherwise. Was told that weren't going to stick a skirt in with the men. All managers received a managers bonus, except myself, I got same bonus employees got. I believe this is wrong.. Was recently laid off permanently and was told I was the only female manager in the company.
—Guest Charlene

Society and Diversity

Always, always 'with preferences to age, cultural diversity, etc.: Societal standard has its own politics in the workplace yet makes it difficult for everyone to fit in accordingly...! Sadly, some of the best potential is 'summed up' DROPPED to keep in tune with their own status quo preferences.
—Guest williamwendel

My company only hires "US born"employees

You are not alone. This company blatantly shows in their home page that they only hire "real Americans" born in the US. What if you are already an American citizen? I'm afraid that someone may find out and shut down our company because of lawsuit causing all of us to lose our jobs.
—Guest tammy r taylor

Discrimination in the 21st Century

I had a job where everyone has to fit the mold, and you need at least one of these to qualify: You must be married and/or have children (in that order!) and/or take care of pets or elders. If you don't have those, then you need to be over 40, male and/or good at entertaining your co-workers. If you are younger, white, female, single, and childless, though you are a contemplative, career-oriented, perfectionist and productive individual, your co-workers will treat you like you are a child, make snide remarks about you, and criticize what you do or say. If you take time off for medical reasons, your co-workers will chide you for it because to them you're not yet old enough to have any medical issues. I never said a bad word or was rude to anyone because that's unprofessional. I just don't conform to 20th century sex roles, and in some work cultures, that's their whole life. If you don't subscribe, they think you have no life. They are unwilling to accept other valid ways of life.
—Guest RC

Can't tell or I would suffer

My boss told me if I hired a black person. I was fired. Later he became a cop of energy police he said he would get rid of all of blacks.
—Guest Brian woll

I just don't fit in...I don't get it

Coworkers decorate each other's cubes for their bdays and work together as teams....but exclude me. I take ownership and work on tasks solo. When I ask questions to confirm things about procedures etc, I usually get a "look". Granted this could just be "that person", but for more than 2 yrs? I've been in my field for 18 yrs, worked for the competitor for 7. I'm told & described as being a true, open minded, laid back, funny person. I think before I open my mouth...especially at work. My boss is aware of the politics. I'm not here to be anyone's bf, but a little camaraderie goes a long way. Only thing I can think of is they are just a clicky, non-empowered group that feels threatened. I have been keeping logs of work instances of being treated unfairly, etc. This may seem petty to some, but having dealt with isolation issues in my personal past, this doesn't make me feel so good with myself & effects my day....I feel I'm in jail.
—Guest DaisyMoto

Hard to swallow

In the last year or so my employer has switched to online learning for some BIG stuff. I have extreme difficulty learning this way. I brought it up to my supervisor and he said, "Everyone else is doing it." I told him that I wasn't trying to get out of it, but I need a more structured learning environment to no avail. I no longer look forward to a job I loved, as a matter of fact I am looking for another job and it's killing me to think I'm having to consider this. Is this discrimination, or should I just suck it up?
—Guest Tommy

Assistant manager

I have been working with a store for 4 years. I started as a cashier and have been assistant manager for 2 years but I'm still making $7.35 an hour. That's what I was making when I first started but every other assistant gets $8.50 and bonus checks and if you work at least 32 hours a week, which is full time there. you get a weeks vacation but I have not had a vacation nor a raise what can I do. (Speak up and point out the disparity.)
—Guest a big fool


I have asked my supervisor over 4 times to switch me to another property because I feel unsafe where I work. She said when something comes up she will let me know. Since then I have found out about 4 positions and asked for them all. Her response was you do not have enough experience for this position, yet the next day she wanted me to cover for the same position I just applied for. I feel everyone else in this company can be moved up, but when I ask, it's always no. What should I do. (Leave.)
—Guest apartment manager

Not Related or Best Friend to Anyone

I work at an ESOP in Northern Kentucky. It seems only family MEMBERS or best friends to management become managers. 2 persons were asked to LEAVE. One (family) because the would show up to work STONED (track marks in arm). Two friends, a man who verbally threatened other employees (that he was going to SHOOT them) were given 6 months for the stoned lady, 1 year for the man. Later, they were allowed to come back and work for the company, all transgressions swept under the rug. All SENIORITY REESTABLISHED! With no say from anyone other than MANAGMENT friends and family. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Another case: Assistant G.M.'s husband works there as well, if he is not sitting down texting on his phone (which is against company policy), he is hiding somewhere to get out of work. If anything is said to him he RUNS to his Wife And CRIES how he is being picked on. I NEED SOME HELP HERE, THIS IS GOING TO DESTROY OUR COMPANY OR AT LEAST OPEN US UP TO A LAWSUIT! Any Info?
—Guest non-related or best friend to managment

No respect / organization

I worked at this hospital and supervisors here talk shit, not aware of other peoples feelings, even one said go f___ yourself, hearing layoffs, and they comment, are you going to your hometown? While I'm not aware if I will be included, they do not update us on the new schedules and some workers are allowed to go home so many times /and up to now still employed. Just wondering.
—Guest Guest Kim no m aLice


Still today I am haunted by an interview I had earlier this year. I am Black, and my specialization is Android Development. Any and all interviews are generally more nerve-racking than normal because I have yet to meet another Black programmer! This poises a number of conflicts, particularly with expectations. My haunting interview was with a reputable tech company. I felt that the interview went very well. However, at the end of the interview as I made my exit, I overheard the interviewers in the room talking about me. One person said, "for who he was, he was actually pretty smart" to which the others agreed wholeheartedly. The words have haunted me ever since. Mostly because they are too vague; he did not flat out say he was surprised that a Black man was intelligent. Either way, I am sick of the judgement! My Asian programmer friends mock me because they make twice my salary, it takes them 1/10th the time to find work, they are never asked about if they completed school, etc. Sad...
—Guest Black Programmer

IT Networking Company Santa Clara, CA

After 9 months of continuous racial, sexual and nationality harassment, I was eventually forced to leave. My manager abused me for being Asian Indian and a mother with an infant. I reported to HR and the Director several times and they told me to work on it as I would work on a bad marriage and make compromises if I want to work in that company. When I said I will not be able to tolerate any of the comments and will look for other positions within the organization, the manager and HR told me that I resigned. The HR told me that's what I am supposed to say to my peers and social and professional circle - 'I RESIGNED'. I did that but after a week my friends told me that it's not right and I should report to EEOC. I did that but the company did not respond to any of the EEOC letters. Now EEOC is very inadequately staffed and will not be able to investigate the case until they resolve the backlog cases since 2010. As I am under arbitration with the company, not sure what to do? Please advise. (I suggest that you hire an attorney as I am unfamiliar with Labor Law in CA. Make sure you have complete documentation of every incident that you experienced at work. I hope that you file for unemployment and tell your side of the story.)

Rehabilitated and Still Discriminated

I'm a 43 year old female, an ex-felon, and received awards for providing excellent customer service. When I resided in Arizona, though nothing showed up on the background check, I was honest. I was given the opportunity and was hired where in training I passed and became HIPAA certified and moved up to assisting new agents when Medicare Part D came out. My honesty about my background led me to better employment elsewhere. When I returned to California, I submitted my resume, passed the phone interview, passed the typing and customer service test, and while waiting to be interviewed by Fry's Electronics Call Center supervisor, the team leader came up to me and stated he had to escort me from the building. I have been off parole for over 10 years, a productive member of society. I voted, and pay taxes only to be humiliated and escorted from the building because I was honest on my application so I didn't deserve a chance or even to be seen. I feel this is an issue that should be included.
—Guest Andi

Part Time Employee

Hired by Kraft Foods in January, 2012 and was told I would work 332-40 hours per week on part-time with no benefits. In the two months I've been there, they hired 2 more part-time employees in March. They work more hours than I do. I have been cut down to 8-10 hours a week while they work. I think that is unfair and would appreciate your input. (Susan says that my only advice is to talk with the supervisor to find out why this has happened. When I have run into this type of situation it is often because they work harder, smarter, faster or in some way add more value. I can't speculate in your situation, but that is where you must start - with the supervisor. If that doesns't give you an answer, perhaps involve HR.)
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