How microaggressions create a hostile work environment

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2022 | Employment Law |

When many people think of discrimination in the workplace, they assume that it means that an employer refuses to hire someone because of their race, religion, age, or sexual orientation. They may also think of things like someone not getting a promotion because of their race, sex or religion or being fired when all of the workers of a a similar class are kept on.

But this isn’t always how it works. Your employer may not discriminate against you at all, and you may not face anything as overt as a firing. But you may still have to deal with a hostile work environment created by microaggressions, which may come from your coworkers on the job.

What are microaggressions?

Microaggressions are more minor instances, which may happen on a repeated basis. Some of the more obvious examples include insults or disparaging comments being made around you or directly to you.

But they can be even more subtle than this. If they’re based on some sort of stereotype or discrimination, they’re still microaggressions.

For instance, a co-worker may comment that you seem very articulate and that you speak English well. They say it as if it’s a compliment, but you know it’s because of your ethnicity. They don’t realize that you’re actually from the United States, and they’re making assumptions about you based on the way that you look. They are also ascribing to a stereotype that people of your ethnicity will not be articulate, and they are implying that you are the exception to the rule. This can still be seen as discrimination and can make you feel like an outsider in the workplace.

If you are in a hostile work environment, you need to know what rights you have. Discrimination is not always as obvious as many people assume.