Incidents of workplace discrimination can affect many more people than just those in the workplace. If an employee is the subject of workplace discrimination, it can disrupt his family unit in several ways. In addition, the families of the organisation's owners may also feel the effects of workplace discrimination, particularly if a discrimination lawsuit receives publicity.
The results of workplace discrimination can be termination or discharge, excessive absenteeism or suspension. When a family is solely dependent on one source of income and that income becomes nonexistent due to changes in employment, the tangible effects of workplace discrimination can be devastating. Even a two-income family that experiences the loss of one-half of the household income can suffer the consequences of workplace discrimination. In addition to lost wages, the loss of benefits such as health coverage puts the entire family in a precarious position.
Emotional strain can be another consequence of workplace discrimination. Subjects of discrimination report that they feel devalued, unappreciated and demoralised when they are victims of workplace harassment. Those feelings will inevitably disrupt the family structure by displacement of the emotional strain the employee experiences as a victim or discrimination. Emotional strain can lead to a form of detachment that alienates every other member of the family. While a spouse may react differently simply because of the level of understanding, children may not understand the complex nature of discrimination and how it affects the psyche.
Victims of discrimination may have feelings that imitate anger and malcontent. Transferring these feelings to family members can trigger the same feelings among family members. In other words, when someone comes home angry and is unable to release those emotions, those closest to the subject of discrimination may also become angry. Sharing these feelings with family members can lead to an understanding of how discrimination affects families. Explaining the effects of discrimination can also help the family counteract the negative aspects of discriminatory treatment.
Inability to Find Work
Once workplace discrimination disrupts the family structure and places a strain on it, the employee may need to consider finding employment with another employer. Looking for another job affects the family in more than one way -- the loss of income, the cost of a job search, and the stigma of having complained of discrimination. All of these factors can have a tremendous impact on everyone in the family, especially the victim of discrimination. The job seeker could possibly be blackballed from finding employment in his field or simply feel emotionally incapable of finding another position.
In workplace discrimination matters that evolve into a lawsuit, the publicity alone can be damaging. Publication of the family name can cause others to question whether the discrimination claims are truthful. The family's social circle may shun them or be very critical of the plaintiff when there is the possibility of a large sum awarded by the court.
- Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems: The Citizenship Harms of Workplace Discrimination
- CNN Money: Supreme Court Hears Age Discrimination Case
- Today's Workplace: Gender Stereotyping in the Workplace and the Discrimination it Creates
- Princeton University: Work-Family Balance, Family Structure and Family-Friendly Employer Programs
- University of Massachusetts, Amherst: Unions' Responses to Family Concerns