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

Responses: 44


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.

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Share Your Thoughts

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

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.)

Company discrimination

My ex's company started with 7 employees and their promise to the group was: we'll reward the ones who help us to grow and build this company. Last year, almost 30 years later, it suddenly became clear that it was only the 2 who started the company who were to be rewarded when they sold the company for $millions. It never ceases to amaze me how "short memories are" and where "greed" takes over in the end! These are the same people who didn't want to give a raise to a hard working man because his son, now a doctor, is driving a Mercedez!
—Guest Goldy55

Lessons on Discrimination

Moving form the north to the south gave me lessons on discrimination I had not encountered so blatantly before. I became very anxious and developed hypertension.
—Guest Grace

Report Turned on Her

I wanted to report an incident confidentially and it turned out to be a nightmare. A childcare provider abused a child on the job and me being new and knowing that I saw her while she was doing it it was like omg. So when my bosses walked by, I said I need to talk to you about something and later that day I told her in so little words cause I just didn't know how to come out and say it. Anyway, the childers provider I was working with has been at this facility for 8+ years and I've only been there not even 90 days. At least that's what my bosses kept implying while we were going through the investigation. They were devastated when they told me they "fired Ms. R" and they still found it hard to believe coming from the "new kid on the block." They then gently laid me off and rumor has it Ms. R is to return to work on Monday January 16, 2012. (Is this an act that should have been reported to the police?)
—Guest Queen

Multiple Discrimination Patterns

I am a white female, and I was with a large corporation for over 25 years. Over the years there were discrimination practices, however the worst for me was the last 3 years with the organization. Because of my relationship with an African American male in the organization, I became a target. I was #3 in the country in sales and that didn't matter. They spent 2 years trying to destroy me. I filed at the EEOC, which is a joke to me. They are protecting the organization - period. I had over 5,000 documents proving the discriminatory behaviors from taking accounts, to taking away promotion opportunities while I was the most successful in the district. The position was given to another gentleman who was a 76%. The EEOC, accepted my statement after a grueling (6) hours in their office. The law firm was afraid to touch it due to the lack of filings under the definition of "discrimination due to association". In 2008 the economy crashed & they didn't want to risk. (I'd seek anther law firm.)

Family Discrimination

My mom is the co-manager so I am not allowed to work on the days she works. If she is working on a day that I am scheduled to work, then when I come in, I have to leave.
—Guest kb


Age discrimination is alive and kicking in the workplace. I was top of the scale in my area, and was terminated with causes that could easily have been fought in a court of law. However, the big corp KNOWS it is costly. Had eventually needed to pick up healthcare insurance and it was KNOWN. Not that I am a massive mess physically, but I am on meds and do need services. I have written to the state Department of Workforce Development and discussed the fact many workers within my organization were either bullied out of their jobs, or, let go for flimsy reasons. The good old "At Will State". Another big corporation. I am a GOOD worker who kicked butt and gave good care to patients. Despite, it doesn't matter. Yes, HR does go above and beyond what "can" be said. Especially in smaller towns. At the end of the line of my UI and at the end of my rope period. Big corps, big MEDICAL corps and insurance companies IMO, had a GREAT part to do with this economy. GREED GREED GREED and corrruption.

HR discrimination

Hr has has been rude and ugly to me for 2 years, because she is friends with my boss.
—Guest Judy

No Promotion

At the firing of my supervisor I was supposed to become the supervisor. I had been employed here almost 3 years. I was asked about me having kids. I was also attending community college at this time. But my youngest child is 18 and I had been going to school all this time, and still continuing to do my job. The position was given to someone that I trained and he had only worked here for a little over a month.
—Guest Charli

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

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