Should You Report Discrimination You Witness at Work?
Should You Report Discrimination You Witness at Work?

Should You Report Discrimination You Witness at Work?

Discrimination on the job is illegal, and it not only harms the employees who are discriminated against but can also lead to a toxic work environment. When employees witness discrimination in the workplace, taking appropriate action is always well advised, and an experienced California discrimination attorney can help. 

Fear of Retaliation

Discrimination at work amounts to singling employees out based on some protected characteristic and treating them differently as a result. When other employees witness this discrimination, they often fear (quite reasonably) that reporting the matter can lead to retaliation (or being singled out themselves). When employers are willing to discriminate against employees, it is not a stretch to think they might also strike back against employees who report the matter. It is important to note, however, that – just as there are strong state and federal laws against discrimination, there are strong laws against retaliation, and dedicated discrimination attorneys are well equipped to skillfully protect the legal rights of employees who pay the price for reporting discrimination.

Protected Characteristics

Discrimination is not always a straightforward matter – with clearly defined parameters. In fact, discrimination can take many different forms and can be quite bold or very subtle, but it always harms those caught those employees caught up in it – and should be rooted out. In the State of California, all the following are deemed protected characteristics and can lead to discrimination claims:

  • Age (when over the age of 40)
  • Race, skin color, or national origin
  • Sex (including discrimination based on pregnancy, gender, gender expression, or gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Religion 
  • Genetic information or health status
  • Physical disability or mental disability
  • Military or veteran status

Discrimination in any of these categories is against the law, and employees who witness such discrimination are encouraged to report it – for the sake of the employees who are discriminated against and for the greater good. 

Signs that Discrimination May Be a Concern

As mentioned, discrimination can take many forms and is not necessarily obvious. There are, however, telltale signs that are often indicative of discrimination, including:

  • Inappropriate jokes that hinge on one of the protected characteristics listed above – jokes about an employee’s religion, race, or national origin, for example
  • Offices with minimal diversity
  • Offices with role ruts in which, for example, only men rise to top positions
  • Offices in which specific employees are consistently and conspicuously passed over for promotions
  • Offices that attempt to engage other employees in discriminating against their coworkers 

If it doesn’t feel right, it likely isn’t, and reporting the matter is the best course of action. 

California Discrimination Attorneys Help Protect Employees from Retaliation

Reporting workplace discrimination can lead to retaliation, but failing to report discrimination ignores a very real concern. The formidable California discrimination attorneys at Minnis & Smallets recognize the immensely damaging consequences of discrimination and retaliation and can be contacted here for skilled legal guidance.

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