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Direct vs. Indirect Workplace Discrimination

In: Education

When you treat a specific person differently at the workplace, it comes under workplace discrimination. Discrimination can be seen everywhere it is in school, the workplace, shopping centers, or at family gatherings. Your friends, colleagues, boss, or teachers, all can be the people who discriminate against you. Discrimination can be based on many things, like height, weight, color, caste, race, or religion. It also includes your age range, gender, physical dependency, and pregnancy in the case of women. In addition, many people discriminate against you based on your income status as well. Workplace discrimination is categorized in two ways. The first one is direct discrimination, and the second one is indirect discrimination. Let’s have a look at both types of discrimination in detail.

Direct Discrimination

This discrimination includes discriminatory behavior toward a particular person. Direct discrimination is mostly done based on age, gender, and disability.


In the workplace, females mostly face workplace discrimination. It is very common to see that manger hire males for higher posts and offer them better salaries. Females are not preferred for leading the team. This gender discrimination makes it difficult for women to work well. If the company needs an employee, it should not matter if a woman is applying or a man. The same goes for when a manager hires any woman for the post, her colleagues do not bother her. But even a less qualified male person gets a higher job position. Deserving female candidates are usually ignored because of gender discrimination (Lucifora and Vigani, 2016). Pregnant women also face severe discrimination. Even though it is a very natural process. Every woman goes through it, and every man faces it at their home. But when it comes to the workplace, people behave so strangely. They start discriminating. At the time of hiring, managers do not prefer expecting ladies. If there is no effect on the workflow, there should not be any discrimination against pregnant ladies.


Disabled people are not hired for a good post, even if their disability has no concern with the type of work. It is a very bad practice to engage in such discrimination. There could be some genuine reasons for not hiring a disabled person. Like if the work type does not suit a disabled person, another role can be assigned. But if we look at recent times, most office work is done through computers. A disabled person can work well too. As he also has to use the computer like everyone else. Still, if the manager does not prefer you, it is direct discrimination even if you are well qualified.

In some cases, managers hire disabled people. Then these disabled people face discrimination from their colleagues. Their colleagues do not behave well. They do not prefer making such people their friends. This discrimination makes it difficult to work as well. Organizations should make sure that such cases should be avoided. They should protect the self-respect of all the employees.


When people already know about you, they do not behave well. Here we can take the example of class fellows. Sometimes this bond is very good, and sometimes, it becomes a cause for workplace discrimination. For example, when you both were good fellows in the class, you will probably work well together in any organization. But in the same way, if you were not good class fellows, you might not bond well in the workplace. As a result, you face discrimination.

In some cases, when your colleague knows something about you, he/she might use it against you. For example, if a person changes his sexuality from one gender to another, his colleagues get to know about it. They start avoiding that person. This is called discrimination of association. Those colleagues were associated with him and they knew about the changes he went through. This association became a cause of discrimination for him.


Sometimes it also happens that there is no reason like gender, disability, and association.  But people make a perception regarding you. They just assume something bad about you and did not change that perception. That assumption forces them to showcase discrimination. In such cases, colleagues should avoid making any useless assumptions about anyone.

Direct discrimination can be controlled differently. In some cases, the organization has to apply rules and regulations. While in other cases, colleagues should improve their behavior on an individual basis. They should work on their mentality, and personality as well.


A very common practice of workplace discrimination can be seen related to religion. Muslims face discrimination in non-Muslim gatherings. In the same way, non-Muslims face discrimination in Muslim gatherings. Organizations prefer to grant higher posts to the person having religious beliefs that they prefer. Like in the wine business, a Muslim is not preferred at all.

Indirect Discrimination

According to a dissertation help firm, the organizations make some rules and regulations for their workers. They ensure equality through these rules and regulations. But in practice, they do not follow it. This practice comes under the category of indirect workplace discrimination. Organizations and workers show that they are doing well, but in reality, they are not. It affects people very badly. Because of indirect discrimination, people lose many opportunities. For example, height, weight, and color have no concern with most of the work types. Yet many people are affected because of these factors.


In many organizations, managers specify the required height of candidates. Females are less in height compared to males (Cavico et al., 2012). So, because of less height, they cannot even apply for the job. It comes under indirect discrimination. This is an indirect way to avoid women within the workplace.

Job Advertisement

Many care managers do not let anyone know about new vacancies. Instead, they announce it in the office to specific people. That is why only a few people get to know about it and apply for it. This is another way to discriminate indirectly.

Experience in the Same Job

The companies asking for highly experienced people in the same field also discriminate indirectly. If any organization needs an employee, they should consider the person with the highest caliber. They mention the experience of 15 years. It means they are discriminating based on age. They do not want to hire any young people. Fresh graduates also cannot apply for such posts. Hence, this advantage is only taken by people in their old age. 


Cavico, F.J., Muffler, S.C. and Mujtaba, B.G., 2012. Appearance Discrimination, Lookism, And Lookphobia In The Workplace. Journal of Applied Business Research (JABR)28(5), pp.791-802. Retrieved from:

Lucifora, C. and Vigani, D., 2016. What if your boss is a woman? Work organization, work-life balance, and gender discrimination at the workplace. Retrieved from:

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