What is Workplace Discrimination, Its Types and Examples, and How to File a Complaint

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Despite significant measures and great strides we’ve taken to ensure equality, workplace discrimination still takes place even with laws protecting workers against it. Sadly, this often concerns people of particular race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.

Therefore, it’s best to keep yourself informed about these issues so you can:

  • Avoid being someone who disfavors others;
  • Stand up for yourself if your employer is unfairly treating you; and
  • Help others get the support they need if they’re discriminated.

Dealing with this kind of issue is not simple, but it can be easier if you have the right knowledge and you know what to do. So, through this blog, let’s delve deeper into this issue—what workplace discrimination involves, its types, sample cases, and ways how you can take action against it.

What is Workplace Discrimination

As noted above, workplace discrimination happens when a worker is shown prejudice based on various factors. This is the type of discrimination against employees based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.

Enforced by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in hiring, discharge, promotion, referral, and other aspects of employment. Having that said; in 2020 alone, the EEOC noted 67,448 workplace discrimination charges. This proves that even during a global health crisis, issues of unfair treatment at work still happen.

Types of Workplace Discrimination

Check out this list of its types and year 2020 reports from the EEOC:

  • Retaliation: 37,632 (55.8% of all charges filed)
  • Disability: 24,324 (36.1%)
  • Race: 22,064 (32.7%)
  • Sex: 21,398 (31.7%)
  • Age: 14,183 (21.0%)
  • National Origin: 6,377 (9.5%)
  • Color: 3,562 (5.3%)
  • Religion: 2,404 (3.6%)
  • Equal Pay Act: 980 (1.5%)
  • Genetic Information: 440 (0.7%)

These types of workplace discrimination often shape people’s biases, whether directly or not. That’s why even in work setups, some receive unjust treatment. Think about its effects on their mental and physical state. To know more on such instances where discrimination at work takes place, read on.

Wooden Figures Of Man And Woman On Scales Depicting Workplace Inequality
What is Workplace Discrimination, Its Types and Examples, and How to File a Complaint 1

Instances of Workplace Discrimination

Based on the types above, these are some cases in point showing unfair treatment to workers:

  • A job applicant isn’t hired to take on a job post due to their race.
  • An employee who’s in his mid-40s is denied of taking a higher role because the firm would rather choose a younger one.
  • A worker is assigned to a different work area because of their physical traits.
  • One staff is intently left out during lunch breaks, work meets, and the likes.
  • An adept worker did not receive her deserved promotion due to her recent pregnancy.
  • A worker got the pink slip for disclosing her pay with a colleague.

How to Know if You are Being Discriminated

At times, some workers choose to stay silent about it, and that is the sad truth. It’s key for you to know that discrimination at work occurs uniquely from person to person, taking many forms. Note that it doesn’t have to be intentional to be illegal.

To help you find out if you’re being disfavored, check these two types the law prohibits:

  • Disparate treatment: This happens when an employer treats a job applicant or worker less fairly than others who are in similar posts. Such different treatment involves the person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran.
  • Disparate impact: This pertains to when an employer enacts guidelines or practices that may appear fair but have a quite negative impact on members of a certain protected group.

If it remains rampant, these lawless biases can lead to a hostile work environment. Further, these issues can affect an employee’s work conduct, and foster a tough work culture as well.

Filing a Complaint with OFCCP and EEOC

Know your workplace rights! Heed these steps toward filing a complaint.


If you believe you’ve been prejudiced against hiring or employment by an employer doing business with the Federal government, you can file a complaint with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs or OFCCP. If you also believe that the reason for such a case was based on your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran, you may follow these steps to take action:

Step 1: Download and fill out the complaint form. You may also find its foreign language versions here.

Step 2: Complete the form and submit it through these options:

  • File it online with the proper OFCCP Regional Office;
  • Mail or fax the form to the right OFCCP Regional Office; or
  • File the form in person with any OFCCP District or Area office.

Step 3: Call or visit any OFCCP office to know more about the process or if you need further support.


On the other hand, you may want to file charges with the federal EEOC if you believe your employment rights have been overstepped. Here are the steps you need to take:

Step 1: Prepare key details in filing charges. Those details are:

  • Your name, address, and phone number
  • Name, address, and phone number of your employer, agency, or other entity involved in the case
  • Brief report of the alleged violation, including the date(s)

Step 2: Send these details to the EEOC by calling them at 1-800-669-4000 to speed up the process. They will then forward your case to your nearest EEOC field office to contact and set you up for an in-person meeting. You may also file by mail with all your details in step 1, stating a report of why you believe you were discriminated against, and sign it.

If you wish to file charges in person, find the nearest EEOC field office to you. Bring in any proof to help explain your case, such as performance reviews or harassing emails. Also, it’ll be a big help if you can list the names and contact details of those who know about the case. You may choose to bring someone with you to the meeting, such as an attorney. It’s within your rights to inform the field office staff if you need some other special help.

Workplace Discrimination Against Female Employee
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Other things you need to note:

  • All charges must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days.
  • If the charge is also covered by state or local laws, the filing deadline is extended up to 300 days.
  • Federal workers must file within 45 days.
  • For charges relating to age, the deadline is not stretched if only a local law forbids age bias.
  • When in doubt, get in touch with the EEOC after you suspect such unfair acts by your employer.
  • Let an attorney help you file your case to help you ensure your rights are protected.

While issues like this need strict enforcement by law, employers and workers must also work hand in hand to put an end to workplace discrimination and work toward workplace equality. If you or someone you know faces this kind of unfair treatment, be sure to have apt case reports and have your proofs ready. Don’t think twice in opting to raise issues like this to the right agencies.

Stand Up Against Workplace Discrimination; Promote a Healthy Workplace Today

In times like this when such unfair treatment still happens, it’s a must for you to be a keen, smart, and aware worker. Help promote a healthy work culture by starting with yourself.

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