Tip Toeing On The Edge: Is That Discrimination?

We’ve covered plenty of ground in our discussion about discrimination. ICYMI:

Figuring out if what you’re experiencing really is discrimination may be harder than you think. Even though you are protected under a variety of anti-discrimination laws, the burden of proof often falls in your (ie. the victim’s) lap. Especially if you are pursuing an age discrimination claim.

We researched sources ranging from the US Department of Labor to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to this really cool employment lawyer to get our info for this story. Yes, we realize that the EHRC is based in Britain but its advice, for the most part, is still valid for our country. Don’t fear the redcoats!

Let’s do a little Q & A and start with the most basic question – How do I know if I’m being discriminated against?

You don’t like something your employer said or did. Is that discrimination? Not necessarily. If it falls into one of these two clearly defined methods of discrimination however, it may be against the law:

Disparate treatment – when you get treated differently from someone who is comparable to you in job classification, skill set, education or other measurable standard because of your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.

Disparate impact – when an employer has a policy or practice that has a discriminatory affect on the protected classes mentioned above. Whereas ‘intent’ is the key to proving disparate treatment, the ‘affect’ a policy has is key to proving disparate impact. Head to nolo.com for further explanation – they break it down really well.

 What does illegal employment discrimination look like?

 The EEOC lists some of these examples on its website (click on this link to head to the full list):

  • Denying paid sick leave to female employees recovering from childbirth but allowing paid sick leave for employees recovering from knee surgery
  • Assigning all Hispanic employees to a particular work area
  • Paying women less than men for the same work

 What do I do if I think I’m being discriminated against?

We’re not lawyers so we can’t give you legal advice, but we can steer you toward some legal websites that have good information. Try this page at FindLaw.com or this attorney’s advice.

I didn’t get a job because I have bad credit. Was I discriminated against?

That’s certainly a hot-button issue at the moment, but most states say it’s OK to not hire someone based on poor credit. This is being examined closely by the EEOC because some people feel that more women and minorities don’t get jobs because they have higher rates of bad credit. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that there is legal discrimination and it falls under these categories, according to Donna Ballman, an employment attorney and creator of the blog ‘Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home’:

  • Credit History
  • Nepotism
  • Weight
  • Favoritism
  • Political Views
  • Bankruptcy
  • Unemployment
  • Appearance

What do you think about employers using your credit history as a deciding factor in whether or not you get a job? We’d like to hear your perspective. Perhaps it would make a great blog post!

This entry was posted in Background Screening, General, Human Resources, News by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
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