What Are the Signs of Discrimination?

There are different signs of discrimination of which you should be aware of as a worker. These signs include explicit discriminatory language, language that discloses an illegal bias, improper hiring practices, disparate pay for the same work, assumptions about a workers’ abilities or plans, disparate application of discipline or policies, unfair promotions, unfair work assignment, and pretextual reasons not to hire job applicants or provide promotions to employees with protected traits. Most situations are complicated and difficult to parse. As a worker, you may not be entirely sure of your employer’s intent. At Phillips and Associates, our seasoned New York City employment discrimination lawyers provide free consultations to workers who believe they might have a claim.

Many companies are aware of the risks of openly discriminating against employees. Accordingly, it's important to pay close attention and document what's happening in your workplace if you sense you are being subject to discrimination.

Explicit Language Is a Sign of Discrimination

There are situations in which an employer or one of its agents speaks in an explicit manner regarding the reasons for an important employment decision taken against an employer. For example, pregnancy discrimination is illegal in New York City under the New York State Human Rights Law, the New York City Human Rights Law, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If your employer tells you that the reason you're not being promoted is because you're pregnant, even though he's previously suggested you were up for the promotion, you may have a pregnancy discrimination claim. You should document this verbal comment or preserve the email or message that contains it as evidence.

Employers’ Words That Reveal Illegal Bias May Be Signs of Discrimination

More often than explicit language, employers use coded language that suggests bias or prejudice. As a member of a marginalized identity, you may recognize subtly biased language used against you. However, you may not be able to put into words why you feel it's wrong. There are also situations in which workers we represent have not picked up on biased language leading up to a clear act of discrimination. In that case, our lawyers may pursue the testimony of other witnesses such as coworkers or clients, performance reviews, and the employer's own testimony in order to establish employment discrimination or harassment on your behalf.

Generally, remarks by an employer's agents that stereotype those with protected traits or suggest that those with protected traits are not good workers because they possess the protected trait may be evidence of bias:

  • If you are disabled and your manager insults the ability of disabled workers to do their jobs, this may suggest biased or discriminatory intent towards disabled employees or job applicants.
  • If you are pregnant, and your supervisor has commented about a woman's ability to work after she becomes a mother, this is suggestive of gender, pregnancy, and familial status discrimination.
  • If you are Asian American and your employer has made remarks that Asian Americans do not make good leaders, this may be a sign of national origin discrimination. Similarly, if you are Latino, and your employer comments on your accent or a coworker’s, this may reveal discriminatory intent towards workers of other national origins.

Disparate Pay in New York City

You should not be discriminated against with regard to pay based on your protected traits. The federal Equal Pay Act expressly mandates that women and men in the same job should be paid equally for equal work.

When employees of certain groups are not provided equal pay as other employees from different groups, this inequality may be a sign of illegal discrimination under federal, state, or local laws. For example, if Black servers at the restaurant at which you work are paid less than white servers at the same restaurant, this might be a sign of illegal race discrimination. While this factor is not necessarily determinative, it may tend to prove discrimination with regard to a different adverse employment decision such as an employer’s failure to promote.

Assumptions About Your Abilities

Our attorneys also notice that employers who discriminate make assumptions about the talents and abilities of a protected group. You should look out for an employer's assumptions about your abilities based on a protected trait:

  • It could be a sign of age discrimination if your employer assumes you're going to automatically retire at age 65.
  • It could be a sign of pregnancy discrimination if your boss assumes you will be able to perform your job duties while pregnant or after your child is born. You and your physician should have conversations about the work you can do during pregnancy or afterword, but these issues are not for your employer to dictate.

Disparate Application of Workplace Policies in New York City

Some employers may not admit to bias, but they enforce workplace rules only against workers of specific groups and thereby discriminate. For example:

  • If your employer enforces its policies about rest breaks when it comes to women, but does not enforce those policies when it comes to men, you may have a claim for sex or gender discrimination.
  • If your employer refuses to allow you reasonable accommodations such as days off for your Muslim religious practices, but allows other religious observers to take off for their religious observances, this could be a sign of religious discrimination.

Hire a Tenacious Employment Lawyer

Working up an employment discrimination lawsuit is a time-intensive process that requires significant legal knowledge and experience. In most cases, there is a lot at stake for a worker with one or more protected traits who goes up against a more powerful employer who has mistreated him or her.

As a worker, you may fear being blackballed from your industry or having your career derailed through no fault of your own. You may be wondering what the signs of discrimination are. Accordingly, it is critical to retain a tough New York City employment discrimination lawyer. You should talk to Phillips & Associates about grounds for a discrimination lawsuit. We represent sexually harassed workers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, or Nassau County. Call us at (866) 229-9441 or complete our online form.

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