Forms and Types of Workplace Discrimination

September 30, 2014

baltimore, maryland age discrimination lawyerUnfortunately, discrimination is a apart of our lives. Not everyone is treated with equal respect or given equal opportunities in the same situations. The workplace is one of those areas where discrimination is a common occurrence. While employers keep inventing new loopholes to avoid being caught in the act, it’s still possible for employees to build a successful case and receive a generous settlement with the help of an experienced Maryland labor lawyer.

Forms of Workplace Discrimination

What exactly constitutes discrimination? Discrimination typically involves “unjust or prejudicial treatment” of a person based on his/her personal attributes, such as age, skin color, gender, etc. In a workplace, this unjust treatment may be expressed as:

  • rejecting a job candidate
  • denying a promotion
  • offering lower pay and benefits
  • firing someone
  • changing job responsibilities or demoting
  • denying basic human rights
  • offering different terms of employment
  • bullying and harassment

As you can see, not all of the above wrongdoings can be easily spotted. For example, salary information is confidential and is typically not shared between coworkers, so it’s difficult to compare. On the other hand, things like firing an employee or denying a promotion are not illegal and don’t always constitute discrimination.

Types of Workplace Discrimination

We’ve talked about which forms discrimination may take in a workplace. Now let’s discuss the personal attributes that can be used by an employer to make unfair decisions in regard to a particular employee or a group of employees.


If your age was the main reason why you were treated wrongly by your employer, then you have a discrimination case. While it can happen to anyone, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) only protects people who are age 40 or older. Older employees, indeed, are the most common victims of age discrimination. Because they are paid more and cost more in benefits than younger workers, employers often attempt to quietly lay them off on a pretense of downsizing.


Unfair treatment based on your gender or sexual orientation is considered discrimination. The famous pay gap between male and female employees in the same positions is a good example of sex discrimination. Pregnancy-based discrimination is another side of it, when pregnancy is treated by an employer differently than a temporary illness in a male employee. Sexual harassment cases also fall under gender-based discrimination.


Besides the obvious mistreatment of people with disabilities, this type of discrimination covers a few other categories of employees. Someone who has a history of disability (such as a cancer in remission) or a minor, temporary medical condition can also be discriminated against on the basis of disability.

Race, Color and Nationality

It is illegal to treat someone differently in a workplace because of their race, color or nationality. Even if you are not different in terms of race and color from your coworkers, your personal relationship with someone of different race/color may become a ground for discrimination.

Genetic Information

This is a fairly recent addition to the discrimination law, covering several types of genetic information. Things like medical history of an individual and his/her family or request of genetic services can’t be used against an employee in a workplace.


Your religious beliefs are protected by the law and it’s illegal for an employer to use them as a ground for mistreatment. And it’s not just major traditional religions like Christianity or Buddhism that are covered, but also other non-mainstream religious, ethical and moral beliefs.

Blatant discrimination is a rare occurrence these days. Most forms of discrimination have become subtle and more difficult to catch and prove. Proving discrimination might be difficult, but not impossible. And if you feel like you have been unfairly treated by your employer, it’s worth consulting with a knowledgeable Maryland discrimination lawyer to evaluate your options for getting justice.

Contact lawyers at the Singleton Law Group if you need representation in an employment discrimination case.

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