If you’re facing discrimination on the job, it may be hard to speak up. It takes time to work up the nerve to say something, especially if you’re worried about ruining your relationship with your employer or losing your job.
By the time you do say something, though, you may find that your employer is all too quick to make excuses. Rather than apologizing, they try to explain the situation away. Rather than addressing ways that change is needed, they act as if the discrimination isn’t a big issue.
This can put you in a complex situation where you may need to take legal action. As such, it’s important to know what types of excuses people tend to make.
It was just a joke
One of the most common excuses is that whatever was said was not discriminatory, but was just a joke. Your employer and/or coworkers will state that you’re overreacting, that it was said in jest and that you never should have been offended in the first place. You know the problem with this hostile work environment is real, but they’ll try to act like it’s not.
There was another reason for the action
Often, employers will claim they had other reasons to do what they did. For instance, if you get fired for speaking up, that’s an illegal retalitory firing — one of the most common discrimination complaints. But the odds are good that your employer is going to claim there was another reason for them to fire you, such as claiming that your work hasn’t been good enough or that they can’t afford to keep you.
You’re reading too far into it
Sometimes, they’ll just try to gaslight you and act as if the whole issue is in your head. They’ll accuse you of reading too far into the situation. You may find yourself questioning what really happened, when you were initially sure that you were being discriminated against.
What can you do?
No matter what excuses employers make, the reality is that no employees deserve to be subjected to discrimination or harassment. If this happens to you, there are numerous legal steps you can take.