While work is often not the cheerful and passionate environment we all wish it would be, the least of your worries should be that you are being unfairly treated. Workplace discrimination has been put under the spotlight lately with more people coming out and braving the consequences. Dealing with it can be scary. After all, it’s intimidating thinking we’d upset those handling our paychecks. But any form of discrimination is never okay. If you feel you are being treated wrongly, here’s how to deal with discrimination in the workplace:  

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Decide how you want to handle it

The first thing you should consider is whether you want to stay and fight for your position, or decide to seek better opportunities elsewhere. Of course, the latter option is easier said than done. Not everyone has the privilege of being able to quit impulsively. But even if you do choose to leave, it’s a good idea to take action anyway. Someone needs to expose the discriminatory behaviour prevalent in your company so no one else will ever have to go through what you did.

Keep a record of what is happening

No matter the form of discrimination you’re experiencing, always document the notable events that support your claim. This will help you identify trends of repeated behaviour, especially if it involves several different people. Things you should document include items like text messages, emails, verbal conversations and any other form of contact you may have had. Also ensure you record the time and date. Keep this information stored somewhere private and secure.

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Talk to the person

This is the most obvious (but terrifying) course of action. It can be incredibly nerve-wracking trying to reason with a person you’ve grown to be intimidated by. But the conversation doesn’t have to be as confrontational as you think it does. Just be honest, assertive, and let them know their behaviour is offensive. Realise that you are in the right. Being treated with respect in any work environment is a right all employees should have.

Talk to a supervisor

If directly approaching your toxic boss or co-workers proves unfruitful, it’s time to take it to the higher-ups. Meet with your supervisors, whether formally or informally, to make them aware of the toxic environment their company is for you. After all, they will not consider taking any action unless notified of wrongdoings. Make sure that you stress on the fact that what you are experiencing is indeed discrimination and not just an uncomfortable dispute. Let them know you feel your rights as an employee are being violated.

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File a report and seek legal action

If confronting people and talking to your supervisor doesn’t change anything, consider filing an official report of discrimination to the HR department. Include all the evidence you’ve compiled and make your case. Ensure that they investigate your complaints and provide an evaluation.

However, if talking to HR doesn’t work either, you still have the option of taking this case to court. You can hire an attorney specialised in the field who can help explain your country’s employment and discrimination laws to you so you can better decide what path to take to address your complaints and whether or not you want to file a lawsuit.

Discrimination is never okay and should not be taken lightly. Follow the above steps and seek further professional advice if you believe you yourself are in the midst of a toxic office environment.

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