The workplace should be comfortable for everyone, where every person can strive to be themselves and to do their best. Unfortunately, sometimes, employees are discriminated against because of their religion, race, age or gender. The Ministry of Manpower encourages fair employment practices but there are incidents where individuals fall foul of these rules.
Here’s what you should do if you think you’re being discriminated against at work.
1. Keep A Diary
Make a note of the incidents that have taken place. This is for two reasons – so you won’t forget details such as what happened and who did it, and so you have proof that it happened more than once (although you can still report it if it only happened once). Also take note of whether there were any witnesses so that they can be called upon to help your case, if needed. Documenting it also shows that you’re taking the discrimination very seriously.
2. Talk About It
Discuss the incident/s with someone you trust, whether it’s your spouse, close friend or family member – but not anyone who works with you, even if you’re friends with them. Just lay out the facts and get their opinion. The idea is to get a ‘neutral’ point of view, as to whether what you’re going through can be considered as discrimination. This is because what you think is discrimination could just be someone being ‘mean/unfair’ to you because they don’t like you. That isn’t against the law; it’s when they’re doing it because of your race/gender/age etc that it’s a problem.
3. Decide Your Approach
The ‘easiest’ option is to quit your job but since it’s not exactly convenient to just leave without getting a new one, it’s not a choice that’s available to most people.
Another thing you could do is approach your boss and tell him/her how something they’ve said/done is offensive to you. Be honest and don’t be confrontational. Or report the incident/s to your immediate superior, if this isn’t the person that has discriminated against you.
Look through your employee manual to see if there’s someone in the company who specifically handles discrimination cases and talk to them. Some companies have explicit anti-discriminatory policies so read through that first. If the discrimination is very serious and you can’t see anyone in your company being on your side, engage a lawyer to take action.
If you need advice or assistance on workplace discrimination, contact the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) – www.tafep.sg
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