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Companies Discriminate All The Time, And That's Bad For Your Career

By Julius Choudhury

Companies have a nasty habit of discriminating against the people who work for them - and that’s a bad thing. Firms find all kinds of reasons to push out workers, and sometimes what they’re doing is legal.

Photo: Yanalya, Freepik

When you think about it, the ability to discriminate actually makes a lot of sense for the powers that be. The government and top business officials want all the tools that they can get to maximise taxes and profit margins so that they can enrich themselves. If discrimination is a way of getting there, then so be it. Somebody has to take the fall. 

A good example here is dress codes. The majority of businesses do not have gender-neutral workplace uniform policies. Women usually have to dress a certain way, and so do men. There’s no room for compromise. 

Employers do this out of both habit and a fear of losing customers. They want to present their businesses in a way that maximises the chance that people will buy from them, not go on a social justice crusade. And here’s where things can get thorny. If you don’t like the dress policy, you don’t always have a legal right to challenge it. You either have to deal with it or find another job. There’s no middle ground. Employers have a right to ask you to dress how they want for work as it stands.

This attitude might be a good thing, though, financially speaking. Bosses may believe that how workers dress has a material impact on the overall performance of the firm. They could, for instance, have data that says that when women are in skirts and high heels, customers buy more products. This higher level of purchasing then translates into more revenue which then sustains employee salaries - the very wages that allow you to live a productive and happy life. 

There are, however, many cases where discrimination is bad for your career, according to a top law firm. Companies can do all kinds of things that make it hard to get ahead if you have a particular persuasion or characteristics. 

Let’s take a look at discrimination in more detail. 


Employers Who Discriminate Based On Your Credit History

Do you have a poor credit history? If so, then you might want to worry. Employers will often sleuth on their employees with private investigators, delving into their financial backgrounds. If they discover that you have a poor credit history, then they can use that as a pretence to deny you work. There are some rules around performing background checks on potential hires under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but the safeguards are limited. People who have a history of failing to pay off debts aren’t always welcome at companies. Career opportunities are blocked off for them. It’s a big problem. 


Employers May Discriminate Based On Your Weight

If you’re a little overweight, it can sometimes be a challenge to find employment. But have you ever wondered why? 

For many people with BMIs above 30, it’s not a coincidence that their job search is more difficult. Employers will often use weight as a marker of how productive they think you might be in years to come - and how much you’ll raise their insurance premiums. People who are overweight tend to be at a higher risk of disease and employers will often consider this when deciding whether to take on somebody or not. If two candidates seem identical on paper, but one of them is obese, and the other is slim, hiring managers have a massive incentive to employ the lean person. 


Employers May Discriminate Against You If You’re Unemployed

You would have thought that being unemployed would be a good thing for potential employers. Surely they’re looking to hire people who are currently seeking a job, not in one. It makes sense, right? 

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Unemployment discrimination is rampant across the country. The reason for this has to do with the ideas associated with being unemployed. Firms, for instance, worry that people out of work have lost their skills. They may also wonder whether they were fired from their past job. Unemployment is a marker that suggests that somebody might have a problematic history. 

Contrast that to people who are employed. In that situation, employers are much more likely to want to take them on. The fact that they currently work for another firm is not a big deal. It is a good thing. It is a sign that somebody out there already trusts them and is willing to pay them a salary for what they do. Hiring somebody who already has a job seems like a safer bet. 


Employers Might Not Like Your Political Views

In the US, you have a right to exercise free speech without the state cracking down on you or throwing you in jail. Most people think that that is a good thing. But First Amendment rights only apply in that context - they don’t matter when it comes to your employer. If you work for a company and say something that conflicts with the values that it holds, then you can lose your job. We’ve seen this happen multiple times over the past few years. First Amendment rights give you the freedom to say what you want politically. They don’t force employers to continue hiring you, though. That’s a significant difference. 


Employers Might Hire Their Children Instead Of You

Nepotism is a big problem in our society. People in positions of power will often give their children top jobs, even if they haven’t earned them. The current situation with Joe Biden is an excellent example of this. 

As an employee, nepotism is a big problem. It means that you’re automatically at a disadvantage. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are at your job, if one of your superiors has a family member that they want to promote, they’ll do it. 

So, in summary, workplace discrimination exists and is a part of having a career. Being aware of it can help you defend against it.

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