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Passive Discrimination in the Workplace: Forced Assimilation

When asked to define discrimination in the workplace, many people would do so by citing examples in which demotion, pay cut or other definable negative outcomes happen. Many people do not consider that workplace discrimination can in a sense be passive. It is more difficult, but it is possible to allege discrimination by being forced to conform, also known as forced assimilation. In this article, we will cover a few common types of discrimination in the workplace as it relates to forced assimilation at work.

Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

Many employers have dress codes and other similar policies, and normally, employees are expected to conform to those policies without exception. However, there are common religions that suggest or require a certain way of dressing or the wearing of certain items. These cases are all protected under Title VII. Unless accommodating the practice would constitute an undue hardship to the employer, it must in fact be accommodated. This does include religious wear used by “non-standard” practices, including those that may seem “unreasonable or illogical” to others.

One common way employers attempt to avoid these requirements is to question whether the employee’s religious belief is in fact “sincerely held,” but this is actually not relevant to the question. If an employee experiences religious discrimination in the workplace based on practice or attire, what matters is the appearance of discrimination—not whether the belief was sincere or not. The rationale is that even if the employee’s belief is not sincerely held, if they were discriminated against, then the employer likely would not think twice about discriminating against an employee who does believe in something sincerely.

Sexual Discrimination in the Workplace: Orientation and Gender Identity

It is still common in the United States to either quietly discourage employees to come out or to enforce a work environment that may prove hostile enough to remain closeted. Recent statistics report more than half of U.S. LGBTQ workers hide their sexuality at work, due to pressure or signs from management that the revelation would not be welcome.

It is possible, though difficult, to allege a hostile work environment in this type of situation on the basis of sexual discrimination in the workplace. However, in South Carolina, it may be even more difficult, because as of this writing, the state has no protections for LGBTQ employees against workplace discrimination or retaliation by employers. It would in theory be plausible that an LGBTQ employee could file a charge alleging a hostile work environment and then be terminated as retaliation with little repercussions coming to the employer. If you are pursuing a sexual discrimination in South Carolina, you should consult an experienced workplace discrimination attorney.

Get Help from a South Carolina Workplace Discrimination Attorney

Passive workplace discrimination can be difficult to identify and harder to fight. Consulting a knowledgeable South Carolina workplace discrimination attorney can make all the difference. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and his Charleston firm of Hitchcock & Potts have years of experience with such cases, and we are happy to offer suggestions for your future path.

Contact us today to for a consultation on your case.

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