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Discrimination in the Workplace: Can an Employer Discriminate Against You for Your Own Good?

It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of certain protected characteristics, such as race, gender, age, and religion. However, some may argue that discrimination can occur for the employee’s own good. This raises the question: can an employer discriminate against an employee for their own good?

Understanding Constructive Dismissal

Before diving into the topic, it is important to understand the concept of constructive dismissal. Constructive dismissal occurs when an employer makes a significant change to an employee’s job, without their consent, which makes the employee’s job unbearable. This can include changes to an employee’s pay, job duties, or work location. In such cases, the employee may have the right to quit their job and still be considered “constructively dismissed.”

Can Discrimination be Justified for the Employee’s Own Good?

The short answer is no. Discrimination is never justified, even if the employer believes it to be for the employee’s own good. The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics, and this includes discrimination that is intended to be helpful or well-meaning.

For example, if an employer discriminates against an employee because they believe the employee’s religion is a hindrance to their job performance, this would still be considered discrimination. Similarly, if an employer discriminates against an employee because they believe the employee’s age would make them less capable of performing a certain job, this would also be considered discrimination.

What to do if you are a Victim of Discrimination

If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination in the workplace, it is important to take action. The first step is to document the incidents of discrimination, including the date, time, and details of the incident. This can include any statements made by the employer or any other witnesses.

Next, you should raise the issue with your employer. This can be done through a formal complaint or through a conversation with your supervisor or human resources department. If your employer is unwilling to address the discrimination, you may have the right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a similar state agency.

It’s also important to consider seeking legal advice, especially if you are considering leaving your job because of discrimination, as this might be considered constructive dismissal.

Discrimination Based on Performance

It’s important to note that discrimination and discrimination based on performance are two different things. An employer has the right to hold their employees to certain standards of performance and may discipline or terminate employees who do not meet those standards. However, this must be done in a non-discriminatory manner and must be based on objective criteria.

Discrimination Based on Health or Safety Concerns

In some cases, an employer may discriminate against an employee based on health or safety concerns. For example, an employer may refuse to hire an employee who is blind if the job requires the employee to drive a forklift. However, this would still be considered discrimination and the employer would have to show that the employee’s blindness would prevent them from performing the job safely.

In conclusion, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of certain protected characteristics. Discrimination, even if it is intended to be for the employee’s own good, is never justified. If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination, it is important to document the incidents, raise the issue with your employer, and consider seeking legal advice.

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