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42 Examples of Discrimination

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Discrimination is the process of making unfair or prejudicial distinctions between people based on aspects of their identity, status or characteristics. This is often based on identity factors such as race, gender, nationality or religion but can also be based on any characteristics of a person such as their appearance or perceived memberships. The following are common types of discrimination followed by illustrative examples.
Racial discrimination
Ethnic discrimination
Age discrimination
Religious discrimination
Gender discrimination
Disability discrimination
Language discrimination
Socioeconomic discrimination
Appearance discrimination
Health status discrimination
Mental health discrimination
Political affiliation discrimination
Citizenship status discrimination
Family status discrimination
National origin discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination
Sexual orientation discrimination
Marital status discrimination
Veteran status discrimination
Genetic information discrimination

Detailed Examples

The following are illustrative examples of discrimination.
Police who unfairly target individuals based on their race.
A student who is harassed by peers due to their ethnicity.
A coworker who harasses a teammate after they become pregnant.
A landlord who won’t rent to single mothers.
A hiring manager who won’t hire anyone over 40.
A student who is ridiculed for their socioeconomic status.
A nightclub that excludes people based on their appearance.
A neighbor who is hostile to a family because they are immigrants.
A flight attendant who is unfriendly to a Mandarin speaking customer.
A shop employee who avoids serving customers based on their appearance.
A manager who prefers hiring candidates who are married.
A healthcare worker who makes assumptions about a patient’s lifestyle based on their race.
A waiter at a restaurant who is unfriendly to a customer wearing traditional clothing.
Classmates who socially exclude a classmate with a disability.
A fashion company that has an unspoken rule that they will only hire slim people.
A food retailer that builds locations only in predominantly white neighborhoods.
A company employee who rejects a proposal from a supplier based on the LGBTQ+ status of a salesperson.
A judge who heavily favors a particular gender in family court proceedings related to parental rights.
A repair person who generally charges women more.
A teacher who systematically gives higher grades to one gender over another due to a bias.
A landlord who doesn’t respond to inquiries from someone based on their language accent in a phone message.
A real estate agent who shows a couple low grade and unpopular properties due to their race or perceived socioeconomic status.

Levels of Discrimination

Discrimination can impact individuals or entire groups. This can be based on the prejudices of a individual or can be built into systems.

Interpersonal Discrimination

Discrimination in social interactions such as a disabled person who is sidelined and excluded by peers at work or school.

Individual Discrimination

Unfair treatment of a person based on their attributes such as race, appearance or affiliations. For example, a particular manager who doesn’t hire someone because of their weight.

Systemic Discrimination

Institutions, policies, processes and practices that perpetuate discrimination against certain groups of people. For example, light penalties for crimes of the upper class and severe penalties for crimes related to poverty.

Structural Discrimination

Structures of society that create systemic discrimination. For example, a justice system based on laws that unfairly impact a particular ethnic group.

Discrimination vs Prejudice

Discrimination specifically relates to unfair actions, decisions and treatment of people based on their identity and other characteristics such as perceived social status. Prejudice goes beyond this to include thinking that is biased and unfair.
Overview: Discrimination
Definition (1)
The process of making unfair or prejudicial distinctions between people based on aspects of their identity, status or characteristics.
Definition (2)
Unfair actions, decisions and treatment of people based on their identity and other characteristics such as appearance.
Related Concepts
Next: Prejudice
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