Despite laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against workers, many continue to do so and get away with it. This is because discrimination can often be subtle, making it easy for people to miss unless they know what to look for.
For example, when reading a job posting, applying for a position, or reviewing your current employer’s policies, you should be mindful of red-flag words and phrases that could indicate bias or discrimination.
Example: Age-related words
A company probably won’t explicitly say that they discriminate against older workers, but they can send that message with certain words, for instance through:
- References to recent grads
- Use of generational slang, like “vibes” or “bet”
- Requiring a school transcript for a job
The above can serve as codes to discourage or leave out older workers. Thus, if you see these or similarly exclusionary terms in work-related materials, they could be signs of bias in the workplace.
Excusing bad behaviors
Companies sometimes use phrases to make themselves appear fun or competitive, but those phrases could indicate acceptance of harassment and other harmful workplace behaviors.
For instance, watch out for companies looking for workers who are:
- Capable of taking a joke
- Willing to put in extra time or effort
These words could suggest that a workplace may be offensive or that the company routinely asks workers to perform job duties without appropriate compensation. In either case, these words may point to a toxic environment.
Poor organization or operation
Company- and job-related materials could also convey that the business does not have appropriate resources for effectively managing workers. Watch out for the following:
- Having to “wear multiple hats”
- Vague job descriptions
- Excessive demands on candidates
- Compensation packages that are overly complicated or too good to be true
These phrases in a job posting or internal materials could signify that the company is struggling with its management and retention or has unfair or unrealistic expectations of workers. These problems often go hand in hand with inadequate policies for handling claims of discrimination, harassment, and other misconduct.
Hopefully you can avoid companies that engage in discriminatory practices. However, if you are currently experiencing such issues, you should consult an attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.