Would You Recognize Workplace Discrimination? 9 Examples of What It Could Look Like

Would You Recognize Workplace Discrimination? 9 Examples of What It Could Look Like


CPLEA interviewed Albertans and asked them for examples of discrimination at work that they have witnessed, experienced or heard about.

As you read these examples, keep in mind that these stories are from one person’s perspective and not necessarily the full picture. More information may be needed to prove that these experiences were discriminatory. Read more at the bottom of this list for possible actions you can take if you think you have experienced or witnessed discrimination in the workplace.


1. Discrimination based on gender

“My boss told me we don’t hire men because we are worried the girls will flirt with them.”


2. Discrimination based on physical or mental disability

“I work with people with autism spectrum disorder. They apply for jobs that they have the skills to do but bosses won’t give them a chance because of their disability.”


3. Discrimination based on perceived sexual orientation

“My manager interviewed someone and told me she decided not to hire him because his voice was too high-pitched and gay sounding. She thought it would get annoying if he worked here.”


4. Discrimination based on where you were born

“At work, the immigrant workers are always given the dirty jobs that no one else wants to do. Even though my coworkers and I have the same jobs and amount of experience, I am always expected to do the jobs that no else will do.”


5. Discrimination based on family status

“I was applying for a job and the interviewer kept trying to find out if I had any kids. I managed to keep dodging the questions but they were very persistent. I have heard that the company doesn’t like to hire new moms because new moms are reluctant to work late or overtime.”


6. Discrimination based on ancestry (where you were born)

“I work with multicultural youth. Many of them have a hard time getting a job. I worry that they don’t get called back because of their ethnic names. I’ve read about employers discriminating based on names.”


7. Discrimination based on race

“My boss told me that we had a bad experience hiring an Aboriginal employee in the past and now we won’t hire anyone that is Aboriginal because it’s too risky.”


8. Discrimination based on age

“I’ve heard people at work complain about hiring older people because they can’t learn new technology and they’re just going to retire soon anyways.”


9. Discrimination based on religion

“I was on a hiring committee, and we interviewed a woman who wore a headscarf. After the interview, someone said we shouldn’t hire her because the headscarf is a safety concern. I told them that there was safety equipment we could easily buy to accommodate her. My manager said it wasn’t worth the hassle and decided not to hire her.”


Taking action

If you experience or witness discrimination at work, there are actions you can take. The Alberta Human Rights Act protects people from discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • Gender, Gender Identity, Gender Expression
  • Religion
  • Ancestry
  • Place of origin (where you were born)
  • Age (if you are 18 or over)
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Family status
  • Marital status
  • Source of income
  • Sexual orientation

For more information, including possible steps that can be taken, read our infographic or visit the Alberta Human Rights Commission website.

Last updated: September 2019



All of the materials on this page were funded by the Alberta Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund (HREMF). This project was a result of a research project funded by HREMF. The research report is available here.

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