Being passed over for a promotion or not being hired for a job can feel like an intensely personal slight. While there are many reasons why you might not have gotten the job you wanted, there is a possibility the decision was discriminatory. However, it can be very difficult to tell the difference.
Identifying discrimination on an individual basis can involve looking at the situation from a larger perspective. Doing so can help you spot a few signs that an employment decision involving you was possibly discriminatory.
- Lack of diversity among other workers and positions: If you work in a place where all the women seem to stay in the same job while men are promoted quite often, that could be a red flag. If you see that a company has few or no minority employees, that too could be a red flag. In these situations, there may be an argument made that the decision to deny you a position was discriminatory if you are, for example, a Hispanic woman.
- Imbalance in performance reviews: If you are seeking a promotion, your employer will likely base the decision on your past reviews and performance. Discriminatory employers may purposefully give adequate or less positive reviews to employees they don't want to succeed. If others are being praised and promoted while you are being more harshly critiqued for similar performance, you may have a discrimination claim.
- Everyday conduct: Employers aren't exactly open with their discrimination when speaking with you about a job. However, you can gain some critical insight into the decision-making process by paying attention to comments and behaviors that happen outside of that process. For instance, does your employer make racist jokes? Are your co-workers allowed to hang up anti-religious materials at their desk? Do you regularly overhear mean or negative comments about people of a certain gender or sexual orientation?
If you have seen or experienced these situations, there may be grounds to argue that an employment decision was rooted in discrimination. Working with an attorney to investigate these claims and build a case against a discriminatory employer can be crucial in protecting yourself and your professional future.