Often, discrimination in the workplace finds its roots in a stereotype that is in no way true, but that the person believes anyway. They then act on that stereotype in an unfair manner, assuming it applies to workers who actually don’t share these traits.

For instance, a female employee may be the hardest worker at a company, as well as the most capable leader. When picking a new supervisor, though, the male CEO may believe that women are not as effective at leadership as men. He could then ignore the worker’s actual traits and qualifications, instead choosing to discriminate against her and hire someone else to the position.

In a lot of cases, stereotypes actually get recycled and used again as things in society change. For example, people who buy into racial stereotypes sometimes accuse African American workers or Latino workers of being lazy. Not only is this not true, but it’s not even original. Immigrants from Ireland and Eastern Europe used to face the exact same claims about being lazy when they were coming to America. These claims faded out of fashion as those groups assimilated into a general Caucasian majority, but the ideas did not go away. They just shifted over to other minority groups where they saw continued use.

Stereotypes exist for almost everyone, no matter what characteristics they really have or what group they may be part of. They even exist for those of certain ages, all other factors aside. When these stereotypes show up as discrimination in the workplace, it’s very important for workers who are being treated unfairly to know what steps they can take.

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