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Female employees still face subtle discrimination

As some Indiana employees may know, workplace discrimination can be subtle. There are laws against expressions of overt bias against people on the basis of factors like age, gender and race, but biases that are less obvious can still be damaging. Women may face particular challenges in the workplace that they might struggle to legally define as discrimination.

From the outside, one sign that a company might discriminate against women is a difficulty in hiring or retaining female workers. The company may not be doing anything wrong on the surface, but there might be an atmosphere within the company that discourages women who work there. This atmosphere might involve referring to women as overly emotional or criticizing the way women look. A woman's colleagues, co-workers and subordinates may also tend to focus on her personality with a degree of scrutiny that men do not receive.

A woman who feels she has been discriminated against in the workplace in these ways might still think she does not have a legal case. However, an attorney might be able to pinpoint gender discrimination based on these more subtle interactions. An employee who feels she has been on the receiving end of this type of treatment may also get more leverage with an employer once she retains an attorney.

Female employees facing subtler forms of discrimination may wish to bolster their cases by documenting incidents in writing as well as discussing them with human resources. This ensures that if the case goes forward, there is a record of the event with human resources. Many companies would prefer to avoid the negative publicity that may accompany gender discrimination cases, so there are avenues women can use to protect themselves even if the behavior is not blatant.

Source: Bloomberg BNA, "Employers Need to Be Aware of Subtle Forms of Discrimination Facing Female Execs", Caryn Freeman , June 23, 2014

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