Workplace Discrimination Statistics: The US vs. The World

Unfortunately, the issue of racism, sexism, and discrimination is not a part of the past. Despite the progress that’s been made in recent years, workplace discrimination towards certain groups of people remains a significant problem. Unfortunately, these statistics are so distressing that many people have accepted bias as a given.

Workplace discrimination is unlikely to stop any time soon, and that’s why companies need to employ better policies to fight it. That would allow everyone to have the same chance to make career progress. 

Top Workplace Discrimination Statistics: Editor’s Choice

  • 60% of American workers have been subjected to discrimination.
  • 56% of managers have personal preferences for some applicants.
  • In 2020, the EEOC reported 4,130 discrimination accusations in California.
  • During the pandemic, discrimination in the workplace increased by 4.6%.
  • The average unemployment rate for black employees dropped to 5.2%.
  • 82% of Americans believed that Muslims faced religious discrimination.
  • 46% of LGBT employees hide their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Only 37.6% of disabled people aged 18 to 64 in the US are employed.
  • Age discrimination affects 36% of job applicants.
  • 10% of Canadian women experienced discrimination in the workplace.

Workplace Discrimination Statistics in 2021: The Situation in the US

Believe it or not, some of the most common types of discrimination happen in the workplace, such as racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and ageism. Let’s see what the numbers say.

1. 60% of Americans have been victims of workplace discrimination.

In recent years, more than three in four companies have adopted a more diverse and inclusive approach when hiring their workforce. At the same time, job discrimination statistics prove that three in five employees in the US have experienced or witnessed discrimination. For this reason, companies need to make more proactive efforts to see an improvement.

2. 56% of managers admitted to having favorite candidates.

There is clear evidence that many executives treat their employees differently. Discrimination in the workplace statistics demonstrate that, when making a promotion decision, a whopping 96% of them will raise the pay of their favorite candidates rather than considering their credentials and communication skills. Furthermore, favoritism is also linked to ethnicity, religion, and similar.

3. The EEOC and its partners conclude more than 100,000 cases every year.

While there are no available EEOC statistics for 2021, it’s clear that employees receive compensation or change in working conditions only 18% of the time.

Age, gender, disability, and ethnic discrimination is still far from being eradicated. Regarding compensation, race discrimination is the most commonly filed but least successful complaint, with only 15% of victims receiving relief.

4. According to EEOC statistics by state, 4,130 charges were filed in California in 2020.

Compared to the beginning of the decade, the number of total charges has seen a massive decrease. In California, race discrimination is still concerning as it stands at 33.8%.

While there have been fluctuations over the decade, the same rate of incidents was reported in 2009. Furthermore, workplace discrimination statistics prove that 30.5% of charges were filed for gender discrimination, unexpectedly higher than the 28.4% rate reported in 2009.

5. The average out-of-court settlement for employee discrimination is around $40,000.

Due to its typically confidential nature, it’s hard to tell what the average settlement for retaliation claims is. However, according to certain studies, approximately 10% of wrongful termination cases result in a verdict of $1 million or more.

Several factors can contribute to discrimination cases, including the place of residence, the type of case, and the scope of injury.

Xenophobia and Religious Discrimination in the Workplace Statistics

Even though the media have widely covered mistreatment and discrimination in the workplace, people still see religion and ethnicity as major barriers to getting a job because they are the most common reasons for discrimination.

6. 4.6% of discrimination in the workplace occurred during the pandemic.

While the number of xenophobic incidents during the COVID-19 seems relatively low, the reality is that racial discrimination has increased, specifically towards Asian and American-Asian individuals.

According to racial discrimination in the workplace statistics, Asians reported over 1,100 cases of discrimination and harassment in 2020. Moreover, verbal harassment constituted the vast majority—67.3%. On the other hand, physical assault and shunning were far less common.

7. The Black workers’ unemployment rate fell to an average of 5.2%.

The lack of job opportunities, lower wages, and greater job insecurity are not the only problems concerning these minority groups—racial discrimination in hiring is also a big part of it.

Most of the time, African American workers face occupational segregation. This means that the minority group frequently ends up working lower-paying jobs than their white counterparts.

8. One-third of Native Americans report being discriminated against in the workplace.

The latest racial discrimination in the workplace statistics by Harvard showed that about 35% of Native Americans personally experienced slurs in the workplace.

In fact, about 39% of them encountered offensive comments about their ethnicity. Moreover, 38% of the surveyed Native Americans said they or their family members had experienced violence solely due to their race.

Considering that the Native American population currently stands at 6.79 million, ethnicity-based discrimination in the workplace is one of their top concerns.

9. Discriminated employees can get a settlement of up to $300,000 for medium-sized and large corporations.

In comparison, small businesses can get a compensation of $50,000 (15–50 employees), while mid-size businesses can get a staggering $200,000 (201–500 employees).

Apart from the defending company’s size, the case type and jurisdiction also play an essential role in determining the average race discrimination settlement amount.

In most cases, employers accused of racial discrimination will offer a much lower compensation before going to court, and it usually stands at approximately $40,000.

10. In 2019, 82% of Americans said Muslims were somewhat subjected to religious discrimination.

It’s not a secret that Muslims have been called offensive names and wrongfully mistrusted at airports. These religious discrimination facts show that 56% of Americans think discrimination against Muslims is a massive problem in the country.

During the same year, discrimination against Jews was also severe—64% said they had experienced discrimination based on their religion.

11. About a quarter of Black and Hispanic workers in the US experienced discrimination in 2020.

Gallup’s employment statistics by race revealed that 24% of Black and Hispanic respondents dealt with workplace discrimination, compared to 15% of their white counterparts. Among those surveyed, 52% believed it was on account of their ethnicity.

Mixed Workplace Discrimination Statistics: LGBT, Gender, Disability, and More

Every day, women and LGBT members are making subtle yet profound changes to reduce discrimination. Although the progress is noticeable, there are still many things to accomplish.

12. 46% of LGBT workers in the US are closeted in the workplace.

LGBT workers feel pressured to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity from managers and even coworkers.

LGBT discrimination in the workplace statistics prove that around 59% of employees feel that discussing sexual orientation at work may be unprofessional. For this reason, the vast majority of LGBT hires feel uncomfortable in the workplace.

13. 15%–43% of gay and transgender workers have experienced workplace discrimination.

Unfortunately, transgender discrimination in the workplace statistics show it’s much more common than among gay and lesbian individuals. In fact, a whopping 90% of transgender people have experienced harassment, mistreatment, and violence at their jobs.

If they make it through the hiring process, transgender workers are likely to face limitations in their interactions with customers or be restricted from wearing clothes that reflect their gender identity.

14. In 2021, 13 million fewer women will be employed than in 2019.

Gender discrimination in the workplace statistics demonstrate that only 43.2% of women worldwide will recover their jobs, a much lower figure than 68.6% of working-age males.

Because of their overrepresentation in the accommodation and food industries, women went through significant unemployment and income loss.

15. Only 37.6% of disabled Americans aged 18–64 have a job.

Since 77.2% of working adults have no disabilities, disability discrimination in the workplace statistics show a whopping 40-point gap in employment outcomes between these two groups of people.

Of all American states, only 26 have seen a rise in the number of disabled individuals entering the workforce.

16. 36% of workers believe they have been turned down for a job due to their age.

These fascinating age discrimination in the workplace statistics reveal how ageism affects older employees more than Gen Zers and millennials. Although older workers make up the largest portion of the workforce, only 25% of US workers will be 55 and older in 2024.

In most cases, employers won’t provide their older employees with adequate support and training that will help them grow in their roles.

17. 93% of firms would choose a “normal weight” candidate over an obese one.

Furthermore, weight discrimination in the workplace statistics show that obese women earn $9,000 yearly less than their normal-weight coworkers, while very obese women earn $19,000 yearly less than their normal-weight colleagues.

Laws address other types of discrimination (gender, LGBT, disability, and similar), but no specific federal law applies to weight-based discrimination.

Worldwide Discrimination in the Workplace Statistics

Xenophobia and religious discrimination have worsened due to global migration, redefinition of national boundaries, economic crisis, and bias. Discrimination based on disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity is also a growing concern worldwide.

18. 15.5 million professionals in Australia and New Zealand acknowledge discrimination in the workplace.

When it comes to workplace discrimination statistics, Australia and New Zealand are well aware of the inequality in today’s job market. Moreover, about 90% of women know about discrimination in today’s workplace, compared to 73% of men.

19. 10% of Canadian women have experienced discrimination in the workplace based on their gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

On the other hand, workplace discrimination statistics in Canada indicate that only 4% of men have personally experienced discrimination at work during the pre-pandemic period.

Besides that, 47% of women, young employees, and people with disabilities from the LGBT community experienced inappropriate and sexualized behavior, compared to 22% of non-LGBT hires.

20. 36% of UK adults have experienced discrimination in the workplace or during the hiring process.

According to workplace discrimination statistics, the UK reports high levels of bias. In fact, 34% of people feel like they have been turned down for a job because of discrimination.

Providing an up-to-date equality policy, anti-discrimination training, and a straightforward procedure for reporting discrimination are good ways to resolve this issue.

Workplace Discrimination Statistics: The Takeaway

While favoring some individuals is in human nature, picking on others based on their sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability is a choice. Although the world is slowly moving toward achieving equality, there’s still a long way to go.

Many institutions like the EEOC often fail to protect and give security to those subjected to discrimination at work. As a result, abusive employers and coworkers will continue to harass and harm minorities without any consequence. Most of the time, educating employees on specific topics could be the way to go.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common form of discrimination in the workplace?

Surprisingly, retaliation is the most common form of workplace discrimination. That’s why employees are hesitant to report wage disparity, lack of benefits and promotions, unpleasant environment, and harassment. Since human resource professionals work for an employer, workers feel that the HR department can’t be trusted.

Racial discrimination is the second most common form of discrimination in the workplace. According to the EEOC, more than a third of complaints are based solely on this type of discrimination.

What types of discrimination are illegal in the workplace?

The EEOC laws state that discriminating against someone based on their sex, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or physical and mental disability is illegal.

In addition, it’s not permitted to retaliate against someone because they complained about poor working conditions, harassment, or a lack of benefits. Although laws may differ depending on the state, the EEOC applies to everyone in the US. Sadly, many workers feel they are unprotected by laws and end up not filing any complaints.

How many workplace discrimination cases are there in 2021?

While there is no available data for 2021, the EEOC’s reported 67,448 cases of discrimination in 2020. As many people report multiple discrimination types in one filing, the total number of charges filed in a given fiscal year is not the real representation of the situation. 

Keep in mind that any charges filed with state or local Fair Employment Practices Agencies are not taken into consideration, workplace discrimination statistics show.


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