All Articles Tagged "workplace discrimination"

Workplace Discrimination And The Queer Black Woman

February 24th, 2016 - By Lauren McEwen
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According to a recent study from New York University, certain “LGBT indicators,” such as previous work experience with an LGBT advocacy organization or a past leadership position at an LGBT student organization, may make it more difficult for queer women to get a callback for job interviews.

Published in the sociological journal Socius, “Discrimination Against Queer Women in the U.S. Workforce: A Resume Audit Study” found that women who listed previous work experience at an LGBT organizations were 30 percent less likely to be called in for an interview. Researcher and study author Emma Mishel personally understands the plight.

“When you look at my work history, it’s a lot of LGBT organizations, so it’s pretty obvious that I’m queer,” she told Fusion in a recent interview.

But what happens when it’s pretty obvious you’re Black and queer? As the study’s introduction states,“limited research has examined hiring discriminations in the United States, and little to no research has examined hiring discrimination against LGBT (or queer) women specifically,” pointing out that the only two sizable resume audits done regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation either focused on gay men or “restricted their experiment to gay-friendly and/or left-leaning metropolitan areas, thus providing limited insight into broader patterns of discrimination.”

The need for more research into discrimination against queer women in the workplace is further demonstrated by past wage discrimination research which Mishel noted has shown that LGBT women “may in fact be favored over straight women in the workforce,” sometimes getting paid more than straight women or having more success in male-dominated fields. When it comes to Black LGBT women the data is even more limited.

“Right now, most diversity and inclusion efforts are about discrete identities—women, gay employees, employees of color, et cetera—but in reality, most of us have a bit of this and a bit of that,” said an anonymous financial services executive in the Center for Talent Innovation’s January study, “Out in the World: Securing LGBT Rights in the Global Marketplace.”

“I’m black, I’m a woman, and I’m queer. My issues are not going to be identical to a white woman’s issues, or a gay man’s issues.”

So far, a white woman’s issues are the most researchers have to go on. In her study, Mishel drew up two very similar resumes for two fictional women and applied for more than 800 administrative positions in Virginia, New York, Washington, D.C. and Tennessee. On one resume, she included a leadership role at an LGBT student organization (she explicitly spelled out the phrase “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” to be sure the hiring manager knew what the acronym meant), indicating that the candidate might be queer. The other resume, which acted as the experiment’s control, included a leadership position at a non-LGBT student group. The inclusion of an LGBT activity proved to be the defining characteristic resulting in the overwhelmingly large percentage of less callbacks.

“You would think that in 2016 people wouldn’t have to hide their beliefs on their resume,” said Ellen Kossek, a gender diversity, human resources and workforce expert who currently works as the director of research in Purdue University’s Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence. “There’s nothing about that that’s job-related unless you’re like a religious institution (and I don’t feel that you should hide behind that, but I have to respect other people’s beliefs). You should hire people for their skills and not based on their sexuality. That’s a private matter, so why are we making people hide who they are in order to get hired?”

This isn’t the first study to find evidence of anti-LGBT discrimination. According to a 2014 report co-authored by the Equal Rights Center and Freedom to Work, LGBT applicants who applied to positions with federal contractors “were 23 percent less likely to receive a call-back than their non-LGBT counterpart, even when the LGBT applicant was more qualified than the non-LGBT applicant.”

Job searching is already a pretty stressful experience. For many people, these anxieties are compounded by worries about discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation and gender expression and all of their intersections.


Cydney Brown is a senior psychology major and Swahili minor at Howard University, as well as the president of the university’s LGBT advocacy organization, CASCADE, which stands for the Coalition of Activist Students Celebrating the Acceptance of Diversity and Equality. Brown is androgynous, masculine-presenting and prefers women. When she graduates, she hopes to work in the nonprofit sector, specifically working with groups that advocate for LGBT youth of color.

“Right now, I’m focusing on comprehensive sex ed for young people between the ages of 13 to 24, making sure there’s adequate info in textbooks across the country so that people our age are able to make informed decisions about their own bodies,” Brown said.

Although she plans to head into a career in which she won’t have to worry about anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace, she has had concerns when applying for positions in the past.

“I started thinking about it because I’m masculine-presenting. The first thing I think about is, ‘Are they going to be OK with the fact that I wore a suit and tie to my interview?’ Most of the time, I come off as a black man, so there’s already that dynamic. Once they realize I’m a woman, it’s like a whole list of other factors has to go into this employer’s perception of me,” she said, noting she often worries about how to “navigate gender and professionalism.”

For example, when Brown had a government internship, her primary concern was the strict dress code. “They had very clear rules about what men and women can wear in the workplace, but as someone who kind of fluctuates on the gender spectrum, well, could I be more accessible this way? Would it still be appropriate if I wore this suit and tie with no tie?”

Although she eventually plans to go into the kind of work “where that doesn’t matter,” she noted that “masculine-presenting people are still a new thing in society.” She worries that a boss might be more “traditional or old-fashioned” and wonders how open she can be about her own family dynamic, since she was raised by two women.

“Because I’m a Millennial and it’s absolutely mandatory that wherever I work accept all of me for who I am, I’m not really in the mindset to sacrifice that, but I understand not a lot of people have that option. Being a part of organizations that work to foster a more affirming perception of different identities across the board is more important to me,” Brown said.

For 25-year-old Christina Lyles, interacting with male coworkers is more of an issue than dealing with an employer’s attitudes about her sexuality. Although she has never been a part of any LGBT groups that might tip employers off about her sexuality during the application process, she has found the retail industry to be “lesbian-friendly.”

In fact, Lyles said she’s only felt apprehensive about her sexuality when dealing with male co-workers finding out that she’s a lesbian, likening the experience to going to a straight club and having men instantly assume that she’s straight, available and interested in their advances.

“Of course, you tell one person you’re gay and everybody knows, which is fine, but then you find out that they know now and you’re kind of walking carefully because you don’t want them to say something awkward, or you’re wondering if that’s why they stopped speaking,” she said.

Some members of the LGBT community don’t even make it to the point of being discriminated against in the workplace, as Mishel’s study pointed out, the exclusion often comes before one can even get their foot in the door. To combat these issues, Kossek offered up these suggestions.

“First idea of inclusion is whether you could even have access to the job,” she said. If an LGBT-identifying applicant does get the job, the next questions that need to be asked are (1) would they be comfortable working there and (2) would they be able to perform to the best of their ability while dealing with the anxiety of feeling discrimination at work?

Follow-up studies that focus on how organizations are managed and how people are socialized to recruit people will be necessary to answer those questions, Kossek said.

“I would like to see a leadership study, including people of all backgrounds and keep an experiment keeping all of those controls in and see what happens with some relatively non-expensive inclusion training and recruiters and leaders speaking out.”

It’s About Time: New York Bill To Protect Pregnant Women From Discrimination In The Workplace Passed

May 21st, 2015 - By Nneka Samuel
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Being discriminated against in the workplace because of pregnancy is a burden no woman should bear.  That’s why New York will soon become the 15th state in the country to pass a bill that will protect the rights of pregnant workers. This bill will join laws already on the books such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.

The bill, which is part of a legislative package referred to as the Women’s Equality Act, will afford pregnant workers a host of accommodations so they can stay on the job. That is unless their employer can prove that working will create excessive hardship.  According to the bill, these accommodations include things like “a stool to sit on, extra restroom breaks, transfer-away from hazardous duties, a temporary reprieve from heavy lifting, or reasonable time for child-birth recovery.”  The bill also acknowledges that the state of New York has fallen behind when it comes to its role as a progressive leader on women’s rights.

According to a recent article published in Think Progress in reference to the bill, “Across the country, an estimated quarter million women are denied [pregnancy specific] requests every year, which means they often end up pushed onto unpaid leave, fired, or experience health complications including miscarriage.  More women don’t even ask for accommodations because they fear retaliation.”  Considering the extent of gender inequality in the workplace, the provisions outlined in the Women’s Equality Act are necessary and a definite step in the right direction towards fairness and equality.

In a statement released on May 5, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said this about the bill:

“Today, the Assembly passed two important pieces of legislation that strengthen New York’s role as a national leader in standing up for women’s equality. With the long overdue passage of bills that expand protections against both sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination, we are ensuring that equal rights are protected in New York. I was proud to introduce these two measures as part of the Women’s Equality Act more than two years ago, and I look forward to signing them into law as we continue to build a more fair society.”

Have you ever been discriminated against due to pregnancy?  What further steps do you feel need to be enacted to ensure the fair treatment of pregnant women in the workplace?

New York will become the 15th state in the country to pass a bill that will protect the rights of pregnant workers. in Madame Noire Polls on LockerDome

Leaked Documents Illustrate Target’s Workplace Diversity Struggle

July 23rd, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Corporations still struggle to present diversity training to their workers. Case in point: recently leaked Target diversity training documents in which theoretical scenarios are meant to teach its supervisors how to deal with, for example, workers who are scared of Muslims, stereotypes about African-American employees, and other situations related to diversity and discrimination that may come up in the workplace.

Obtained by The Huffington Post, “Diversity Scripts for Stores” is a 49-page internal document with explanations for how to deal with potentially inflammatory workplace issues. This as Target faces a discrimination lawsuit filed by three former employees earlier this month. Each script, which have titles like “‘Terrorized’ Team Member” and “No Hablo Español,” is composed of three parts: a set-up, a conversation and a debrief. According to Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder, these types of conversations can be “deeply personal.”

“Because of that, this resource was created to help ensure our team continues to handle diversity conversation in the most sensitive way possible,” she told HuffPo. “This was one element of a larger program designed to foster open, honest, respectful conversations.”

But according to Jim Beard, a human resources expert and a professor of management at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, these types of training methods are often used by companies to “cover their rear ends.”

Look at the scenarios, says Beard. “Each scenario laid out in the document is so specific, the scripts are probably based on real problems that Target has had to deal with in the past,” writes HuffPo. On the downside, many of the scripts may be “exacerbating some of these stereotypes rather than mitigating them,” Beard told the website.

These situations may or may not be fictitious but Target is dealing with a real-life discrimination lawsuit, one which mentions Target’s diversity training documents as evidence of the company’s insensitivity.  Three former warehouse workers suing the retailer in California’s Yolo County cite a document distributed to warehouse managers that addressed Hispanic stereotypes in their suit. The cited document, called “Organization Effectiveness, Employee and Labor Relations Multi-Cultural Tips,” actually notes that not all Hispanics eat tacos and burritos, dance to salsa or wear sombreros.

“According to their complaint, the workers took offense to the generalizations and claimed that their supervisors, who were nearly all Caucasian, frequently used racial slurs when talking to Hispanic employees,” writes HuffPo.

Target has acknowledged the document, but said it was used without approval from the corporate office at one warehouse and has apologized for its contents.

The other  “Diversity Scripts” are corporate-approved and distributed to Target stores.

‘Love & Hip Hop’ Argument Spurs Discussion of Discrimination in the Workplace

February 6th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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via Vh1

via Vh1

Those who tuned in to Love & Hip Hop this week may have caught an intense discussion between Jen Bayer and Raqi Thunda that culminated in a few statements that have led to backlash.

After getting the brush off from Raqi — “Have fun trying to get hot” — Raqi said, “I’m white honey. It will get done.” Both women continued, throwing around racially-charged language.

With that in mind, Black Enterprise takes a closer look at workplace discrimination and what you should do if you think you’re a victim of it.

“Experts recommend keeping a diary of events,” the article says. “Document any incidents of racism that happen to you in the workplace or that you witness.”

For more tips and advice on how to deal with this situation, click through to

Diversity in the Workplace: How To Handle Employment Discrimination

October 25th, 2012 - By Ann Brown
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Image: iStockphoto

Experts say it’s because the job market is so tight. That’s why the number of cases of job discrimination is up.  According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency responsible for investigating employment discrimination charges, the number of complaints from workers and job seekers hit an all-time high last year.

During the 2001 fiscal year, nearly 100,000 charges from citizens were made, “the most logged in a single year in the agency’s 46-year history,” reported The Huffington Post.  “The agency also managed to obtain a historic amount of monetary relief for alleged victims of job discrimination — $365 million, the most on record.”

So what to do if you find that you have been discriminated against because of your race, age, sex, sexual orientation? We asked workplace diversity expert Janet Crenshaw Smith, president of the Ivy Planning Group. LLC. “Contrary to popular belief, discrimination is alive and well in 2012.  However, today discrimination and bias is much more likely to show up in subtle ways versus overt ways,” she says.

    • Alert the higher-ups at your company:  “The corporate leaders that I work with are intolerant of discrimination.  They want to know if it is happening in their companies.  So I do believe that employees should make their companies aware when they are experiencing it,” Smith says. “The test of whether you should leave a company is how the company reacts when you raise the issue.  The company should be fair to all parties involved, and it also should not retaliate against you for raising the issue.”
      • Help change your firm’s corporate culture. “You can help to change the corporate culture at your job by speaking up, and speaking for diversity and inclusion. You start by showing the value of diversity and inclusion,” she explains. “You can demonstrate the value of difference by sharing your diverse network – in terms of employee referrals and customers.  You can open the eyes of your colleagues by letting them know the subtle ways they exclude – little things, micro-triggers – they probably don’t even know what they don’t know. Speak up. It helps you, your team and the culture.”


      • Make the complain official. If you have complained to the heads of your company or potential employer and the issue has not been addressed, file a complaint with the EEOC.


Female Restaurant Workers Struggle Against Bias, Lack of Pay

February 15th, 2012 - By Charlotte Young
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A new study may make you think twice the next time you think about stiffing the waitress because she didn’t refill your water fast enough. Restaurant Opportunities Centers United or ROC United, released the study, “Tipped Over the Edge” on Capitol Hill to highlight gender bias in the restaurant industry. The report found that women face “systematic discrimination, poverty wages, a lack of sick days, and five times more harassment than the general female workforce.”

According to the report, restaurant lobbyists have successfully kept the federal minimum wage for servers and other tipped workers at $2.13 an hour for the past 20 years. This means that the low wage has disproportionately affected women restaurant workers.

Women comprise 52 percent of all restaurant workers, and 66 percent of tipped employees. Men tend to get hired for higher-paying positions such as chefs, even though traditionally women are perceived to do the cooking in the home. In addition, women servers generally work at lower-paying restaurants as opposed to fine dining establishments where they stand to earn better tips. This means that a majority of women in the same position as men end up making only 68 percent of what male servers make in a year. Women restaurant employees also face unpredictable work schedules. This affects their ability to find reliable child care as they are unsure of when they will be available.

Now this last statistic will make you think twice on a lot more than doubling your tips: a whopping 90 percent of restaurant workers report that they do not receive employee paid sick days or health benefits. Unable to afford taking off from work, two-thirds of them report that they are forced to work and prepare or serve food while sick.

Feds Sue TX Company Where Workers Hung Nooses

September 27th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(San Antonio Express) — The federal government has sued two San Antonio companies, accusing one of racial discrimination and the other of age discrimination.  Since at least January, African American employees at AA Foundries Inc. routinely experienced a racially hostile work environment that included the display of a “hangman’s noose,” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit filed Friday. A superintendent also is alleged to have frequently used the “N” word when addressing black workers. A company lawyer said it will fight the lawsuit.

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City to Pay $30 Million, Hire 111 Black Firefighters

August 17th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Chicago Sun Times) — Chicago will hire 111 bypassed black firefighters by March 2012 and pay at least $30 million in damages to some 6,000 others who will never get that chance, under a court order expected to be approved Wednesday by a federal judge.  Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed that African-American candidates did not wait too long before filing a lawsuit that accused the city of discriminating against them for the way it handled a 1995 firefighter’s entrance exam.  A federal appeals court affirmed that ruling in May and remanded the case back to the trial court to implement a hiring remedy the city had been stalling.

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25% of Blacks Feel Discriminated Against at Work

June 10th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(BET) — Twenty-five percent of African-Americans reported feeling discriminated against in their current job, according to a new CareerBuilder survey of diverse workers that found continued inequalities in pay, career advancement and feelings of bias. CareerBuilder questioned more than 1,300 workers from six diverse backgrounds, including African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women, workers with disabilities and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) workers for the Diversity in the Workplace survey. The study focused on larger economies and workforces, targeting the top 20 markets in the U.S. by population. The information was gathered between February 21 and March 10, 2011.

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Black Journalists Trade White Newsrooms for Black

May 26th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Columbia Journalism Review) — It started as a trickle. Sylvester Monroe resigned in 2006 as Sunday national editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and, two months later, joined the staff of Ebonymagazine. In 2008 the renowned byline of Jack E. White, the first black columnist at Time magazine, began to regularly appear on The Root, where Lynette Clemetson, formerly ofThe New York Times and Newsweek, was managing editor. By March of this year when Constance C. R. White, once an influential New York Times fashion writer, was named editor in chief of Essence, the trickle had swelled into a river of prominent African-American journalists streaming to black-oriented media.  The names of veterans like Lynette Holloway and E. R. Shipp, formerly of The New York Times; Teresa Wiltz, Natalie Hopkinson, and Michael Cottman, all of The Washington Post; Joel Dreyfuss, formerly of Fortune and PC Magazine, and Amy DuBois Barnett ofHarper’s Bazaar and Teen People, are turning up in places like Ebony, Jet, and Essence; at, a division of Reach Media, Inc.; and at The Root, the online site spearheaded by Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr. and published by The Washington Post Company.  Some of these moves were prompted by layoffs and buyouts; others by disillusionment with mainstream journalism or a desire to delve more deeply into African-American issues. Whatever the reasons, with increasing frequency, African-American journalists are reversing the once common trajectory from the black press to the mainstream. New ventures like HuffPost Global Black, a vertical for Arianna Huffington’s widely read website that will be launched in partnership with Sheila Johnson, cofounder of Black Entertainment Television, are likely to quicken the pace.

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