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Can biases negatively affect employees in the workplace?

Biases_at_Work_Florida.jpgFew people would openly consider themselves racist. However, that does not mean that many people in Florida and across the country do not have biases that could connect to race. You may have noticed these biases throughout your life due to your race or ethnicity, and it may seem shocking to you at times that those with these biases do not seem to think they are biased.

Unconscious biases are those that are deeply ingrained in a person's mind and that often affect the way the individual views others of a certain race, gender, age or religion. Commonly, these biases are based on stereotypes and can lead to negative views of entire groups of people. While bias may not seem like a serious problem, it is when that bias leads to discrimination, particularly in the workplace.

Are bias and discrimination the same?

While bias and discrimination are not exactly the same, one can lead to the other and result in negative effects on you and other workers. Some examples of how biases can affect workers in discriminatory ways include the following:

  • Passing a worker over for a promotion due to race, gender or age
  • Excluding employees from work-related events that could benefit their careers
  • Subjecting workers to racial slurs, insults or offensive jokes
  • Demanding changes to physical appearances, such as the way a person wears his or her hair, particularly natural hair or commonly Black hairstyles like dreadlocks
  • Making blatant threats against a worker

Unfortunately, discrimination can range from subtle actions to obvious and potentially dangerous behaviors, and these actions can stem from ingrained biases.

How can biases and discrimination be combated?

Business owners and employers should understand how biases can lead to discrimination and how they can combat unfair and illegal actions in the workplace. For example, anti-discrimination policies, bias training and workplace policies could go a long way in ensuring that employers and employees alike are aware of what could constitute discrimination and the company's stance on such actions.

Of course, even with such measures in place, work environments are rarely free from discrimination and biases. If you believe that you were treated unfairly on the job due to your race, religion, gender or other protected factor, you may want to look into your legal options. You may have reason to pursue a legal claim that could allow you to seek justice and compensation for damages.

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