Examples of Microaggressions That Can Be Considered Discrimination

Microaggressions are statements, actions, or incidents that are often subtle or unintentional that negatively target a marginalized group or individual. Microaggressions are a subtle form of discrimination. Microaggressors may mean no harm toward the marginalized group or individual and might include people from various backgrounds, positions, or roles. At work, examples of people who can engage in microaggression include employers, supervisors, coworkers, and even strangers. Sometimes, microaggressors do not even realize they are engaging in behaviors, actions, or comments that constitute microaggression. Regardless, microaggression can be harmful. Microaggression can create a hostile work environment. When microaggression crosses the line into discrimination and creates a hostile work environment, the victim may have the right to pursue legal action. Employees who belong to marginalized groups need to be aware of examples of microaggressions. Below, we share some examples of microaggressions that can be considered discrimination.

Gender-Based Microaggressions

Gender-based microaggressions are a significant issue in the workplace. These microaggressions convey negative messages towards people based on their gender. People of all genders can be victims of gender-based microaggressions. The following are examples of gender-based microaggressions in the workplace;

  • Commenting on appearances: For example, suggesting that a woman’s clothes are not feminine enough or a man’s appearance is not masculine enough.
  • Stereotypical assumptions: For example, assuming that men are more suitable for leadership roles and women are more suitable for support roles.
  • Making inappropriate jokes about a person’s gender.
  • Unequal expectations: For instance, expecting men to be aggressive and women to be accommodating or nurturing.
  • Exclusion: For instance, excluding someone from discussions based on their gender, assuming that their input is not valuable.
  • Microinsults: For instance, attributing a man’s success to his gender instead of his qualifications or skills.

Race-Based Microaggressions

Another significant issue in the workplace is race-based microaggression. Often, racial microaggressions stem from unconscious biases. Race-based microaggression can take various forms, including the following;

  • Colorblindness: When someone says, “I don’t see color” or insists on treating everyone the same, it negates the importance of a person’s racial identity.
  • Inferiority assumptions: This entails making comments that imply some racial groups are less intelligent or competent than others. For example, saying, “You speak such good English for someone of your ethnicity.”
  • Microinsults: For instance, asking an Asian coworker, “Where are you really from?” 

Sexuality-Based Microaggressions

These are microaggressions that convey offensive or derogatory messages related to an individual’s sexuality. Examples of sexual-based microaggressions include;

  • Sexualized jokes or comments: For example, commenting about an individual’s body, appearance, or sexual orientation.
  • Sexual stereotyping: For instance, assuming a person’s sexual orientation based on their behavior or appearance.  
  • Unwanted advances or attention: This can be through comments or gestures.

Religion-Based Microaggressions

The following are examples of religion-based microaggressions in the workplace;

  • Stereotyping: For example, assuming that an individual of a particular faith has specific lifestyle choices.
  • Microinvalidations: For instance, scheduling crucial meetings on a religious holiday without consideration for accommodation.
  • Exclusion: For example, excluding individuals from work-related activities because of their religious practices or beliefs.
  • Making insensitive remarks: For example, commenting about someone’s religious clothing.

Legal Help is Available

If you have experienced any form of microaggression, our qualified New Jersey employment lawyer at The Trabosh Law Firm can work with you to determine if you have grounds for a legal claim. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your case. 

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