What is casual racism in the workplace?

Though overt racism does still happen from time to time in the workplace, it is far more common to experience casual racism. Workers and employers understand that the overt racist beliefs held in the past are now illegal; whether they feel that way or not, they're far less likely to act on their feelings.

Casual racism, though, still permeates a lot of workplaces and can lead to some very serious issues. How is this different?

In a very general sense, experts note that traditional racism is more about racial superiority. It is about the person thinking their own race is better than someone else and acting accordingly. This leads to discrimination like refusing to hire minorities due to the belief that they can't do the job as well.

Casual racism focuses more on negative stereotypes and prejudices. It's not as much about superiority, but just buying into these negative beliefs about others. This may not lead to overt acts like firing people of color intentionally, but it can lead to things like:

  • Social exclusion
  • Off-handed comments
  • Off-color jokes

These types of things can still create a hostile workplace where those being discriminated against do not feel welcome. These three issues may also come up if there is a more overt act, such as firing a specific worker, and that worker then begins looking for proof that the racist attitudes in the workplace led to their termination.

Have you experienced any type of discrimination on the job? If so, it is very important for you to know what legal options you have.

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