shadow A person of color experiencing microaggressions in the workplace
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Microaggressions in the Workplace

What you are saying to others while at work may be bothering them a lot and you may not even know it. Many of us make comments that seem well-intentioned but are actually microaggressions attacking a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

First of all, you may be wondering, “What is a microaggression?” Microaggressions are verbal, nonverbal, and environmental insults that target people based on their marginalized group membership. What exactly does this mean? It means making a statement that may seem flattering but actually degrades a person. You make assumptions based on a co-worker’s appearance or skills, and these statements make for a toxic work environment. They can lead to harassment and discrimination claims.

Microaggressions can be hard to spot, so it is important for managers and employers to identify them and avoid them. Read on for some examples of microaggressions and what to do if you are the recipient.


Examples of Microaggressions in the Workplace


An example of a microaggression would be your employer telling an employee of color that he or she is “so articulate.” While this could be seen as a compliment, it is actually implying that a person of color would not usually be articulate.

Telling someone that they do not look gay or transgender is also out of line, as it implies that being either of these is undesirable. Calling a female boss hysterical or crazy is also unacceptable since it implies that women are illogical and unfit in management roles.

Asking a person of a different race where they are from can also be misconstrued. While you may simply be curious, it assumes that a person does not belong here in America simply because they are a different color from you. If you work with a person with a disability, telling them they are an inspiration, while it may seem like a compliment, can be degrading. It shows that you have low expectations of them, which can be hurtful.


What You can do About Microaggressions


Acting out with rage is not the right way to end microaggressions in the workplace. First, try to be empathetic of the situation. In many cases, the person making the comment is unaware that he or she is out of line. You can also let the person know that you took offense to the statement and explain why. In many cases, this will clear things up and prevent future incidents. If the comments continue, however, it may be time to let your manager know, especially if the microaggressions are now becoming more overt and bordering on discrimination or harassment. If no actions are being taken, consider seeking legal help. Do not quit your job before getting legal advice.


Contact a New York Employee Discrimination Lawyer


Microaggressions are common in workplaces, but the recipient does not have the suffer in silence. While it is important to have a sense of humor and not take every slight so seriously, working in a toxic environment can be stressful. Over time, it can lead to emotional and physical problems.

If you have informed the offender and your manager without remedy, it is time to escalate the matter. Seek legal help from the experienced New York employment discrimination lawyers at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. We can assess your case and alleviate your stress. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at (347) 464-8694.

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