How Is Prejudice Different From Discrimination? Here’s Your Answer!

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How Is Prejudice Different From Discrimination? Your Complete Guide for the Workplace

Prejudice is everywhere, but it can get quite dangerous when it crosses the line to become discrimination—especially in the workplace.

If discrimination at work is an issue you face, here is DoNotPay’s complete guide to explain how prejudice is different from discrimination and how you can protect yourself from discriminatory practices.

What Is Prejudice?

Prejudice is an opinion about a person or group that is not necessarily based on fact but affects the way you behave towards them.

In many cases, prejudiced thinking will be judgmental and will suggest that one category is better than another. Racism, as an example, is rooted in the prejudice that one race is somehow better than other races. Facts or proof are not important, and using facts to argue against prejudice often serves only to strengthen the resolve of the prejudiced person.

What Is Discrimination?

Discrimination is often the result of prejudice being put into practice. It refers to the setting up of systems, processes, or situations in which one group of people is treated differently—often disadvantageously—to others.

Discrimination in the workplace can be based on:

Thanks to the introduction of comprehensive federal legislation, discrimination in the workplace is illegal. If a company practices discrimination (known as de jure discrimination) or allows it to take place (called de facto discrimination), the company can be prosecuted.

The Relationship Between Prejudice and Discrimination in the Workplace

Prejudice can lead to discrimination, but discrimination rarely causes prejudice.

Most employers have policies in place to ensure the company does not become guilty of de jure discrimination. The policies usually address procedures for:

Even with these policies in place, there are still examples of discrimination in many companies. These are usually examples of de facto discrimination, in which prejudice leads to discriminatory behavior in the workplace.

Examples of this kind of prejudice-driven de facto discrimination are:

Area of Discrimination


Hiring proceduresEmployers use racial stereotypes to source candidates for certain positions in the organization, such as posting ads for manual jobs in newspapers predominantly read by Black males
Remuneration and compensationThe company only offers stock options to upper levels of the organization, as lower echelons are more interested in cash-based offers
Job allocationDisabled staff are encouraged away from client-facing roles as clients may react unfavorably to them

In all of these real-life examples, the company has reached a policy decision based on a prejudiced perception and not necessarily on reality. While no discrimination laws are broken in these examples, de facto discrimination is clearly in evidence.

How Should You Handle Prejudice at Work?

Prejudice is difficult to address as it is often rooted in ignorance—telling people they are ignorant seldom leads to them thirsting for knowledge.

Some companies actively promote knowledge improvement by running diversity training, workshops, or focus groups to enhance understanding and reduce prejudice.

On a personal level, if you are experiencing the negative effects of prejudice, you should:

  1. Address the person
  2. Attempt dialogue to understand the roots of their viewpoint
  3. Try to provide facts to help their understanding
  4. Back your words up with behavior

As an example, if a male colleague insists on taking over heavy lifting tasks from female colleagues because it’s the gentlemanly thing to do, the female workers may want to approach him and explain that they are capable of the task themselves and would appreciate his non-interference.

If the issue is not addressed, it will seldom go away on its own.

How Should You Deal With Discrimination?

Discrimination in the workplace—whether de jure or de facto—is a different matter and must be fought with legal means if necessary.

If you experience discrimination at work, you should first try to resolve it internally by following these steps:

  1. Check your employer’s policies
  2. Notify HR or your supervisor
  3. Keep a log

Check Your Employer’s Policies

Your company should have written policies covering discrimination—check them out to make sure your employer states clearly that discrimination is not tolerated.

Notify HR or Your Supervisor

You should engage with HR or management as soon as possible and insist on your complaint being recorded formally.

Keep a Log

The more detail you include, the stronger your evidence will be if you need to prove your allegations in court.

In the best-case scenario, your employer will take your allegations seriously and deal with them. If this is not the case, you may have to escalate by lodging a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC).

What Is the EEOC?

The EEOC enforces federal anti-discrimination law. Once the EEOC receives a complaint or charge of discrimination against a company, it will:

  • Investigate the complaint
  • Decide whether there is a case of discrimination to answer
  • Give you advice on your best course of action
  • Launch legal action against your employer

In most cases, if you back up your allegations with enough evidence, the EEOC will issue you a letter permitting you to start legal action against the company—at which point you can talk to a discrimination lawyer to get advice. DoNotPay can help in a few clicks!

What Can DoNotPay Do To Help?

Lodging a complaint against an employer is easy with DoNotPay—all you have to do is:

  1. Navigate to DoNotPay in your web browser and
  2. Look for our Fight Workplace Discrimination product
  3. Follow the prompts and fill in the details of your case

DoNotPay will file your charge of discrimination with the EEOC, and they will let you know how to proceed.

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees, but DoNotPay Is a Close Second

Experiencing workplace discrimination can affect the victim in more ways than one. Filing a report with the EEOC should help, but in reality, people sometimes lose jobs if they stand up to bullies.

If that happens to you, there are several ways how DoNotPay can help. Our app is a great resource for fighting injustice and administration, but it can also help you save and earn money if you lose your regular income:

Saving MoneyEarning Money

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We can help you get a refund even when companies won’t budge, stop email and text message scams, protect your work from copyright infringement, save yourself from stalking and harassment, or even take individuals or companies to small claims court!

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