The word 'discrimination' being written on a transparent screen

Describe ways in which discrimination may deliberately or inadvertently occur in the work setting

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

Discrimination occurs when people are treated differently and often negatively because assumptions are made about them or a group to which they belong or appear to belong to.

Some examples of discrimination include:

  • Labeling – giving a ‘label’ to a group of people because of characteristics e.g. an individual being labelled as ‘Indian’ based solely on the colour of their skin
  • Stereotyping – assuming traits and characteristics of a group of people e.g. all individuals with Autism are highly intelligent
  • Prejudice – not liking somebody because of the group they belong to e.g. racism, sexism, homophobia etc.

Direct or deliberate discrimination occurs when individuals belonging or assumed to belong to a certain group are treated differently to others. This is usually quite easy to notice. For example, a landlord refusing to let a flat a homosexual couple.

Indirect or inadvertent discrimination is not so easily noticeable and is often unintentional. For example, if an employer makes a policy that all employees must work on Saturdays, this could be discriminatory towards a practicing Jew because Saturdays are a religious day in Judaism. The employer may not have known that they were being discriminatory.

Example question and answer

Explain the differences between intentional and unintentional discrimination.

Discrimination is often considered to be a deliberate unkind act carried out by racists and misogynists, however it can also occur unintentionally.

Deliberate Discrimination

Harassment, bullying, verbal and physical abuse and even jokes aimed at an individual’s differences should not be tolerated.

There is no place for this type of discrimination in society, let alone the workplace – it is morally and ethically wrong and it is illegal.

If it does occur, your employer should take immediate disciplinary action.

Inadvertent Discrimination

Inadvertent or unintentional discrimination can occur if a rule, policy or action prevents an individual or group of individuals from participating.

For example, if an individual that uses a wheelchair cannot access a restaurant because the doorways aren’t wide enough.

Businesses and care workers must do everything they reasonably can to ensure discrimination does not occur.