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The Effects of Workplace Discrimination on a Family

Updated January 22, 2019

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.

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Tangible Effects

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 Distress

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.

Displaced Anger

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.

Family Reputation

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.

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About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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