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What does workplace discrimination look like?

Discrimination occurs based on a list of protected grounds, which are set out in human rights codes across the country (and in federal human rights law for federal employees). While the list varies between laws, these generally include grounds such as age, race, creed (similar to religion), gender identity and expression, marital status, family status, and disability just to name a few.  Workplace discrimination may not be as obvious as some of the incidents that we think about from the 1950s, and may be harder for those not discriminated against to detect. A perfect example are jokes or comments made around the office. Jokes about a colleague’s name, wardrobe, or lunch that they brought from home may be made without a second thought, but can cause that employee deep shame and embarrassment to be among their colleagues.  Workplace discrimination is not always about what is said, but sometimes it’s about what isn’t said. Policies that mandate attendance at certain dates or times may appear universal, but unless exceptions are made they may inadvertently prejudice those off for religious observance, or parents who are unavailable because of their childcare duties. Similarly, failing to invite or carelessly excluding an employee from a company social event because they are female, for example, is also an example of discrimatnion. 

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