Discrimination is not always overt and obvious. In some cases, it may just be a minor incident that some people wouldn’t even notice. But it can absolutely still be a form of discrimination, and it may be known as a microaggression.
Essentially, a microaggression is a small action that still has a negative impact on someone who is part of a minority group or a marginalized group. It may not be overt and obvious, and it can even happen accidentally. But it is often intentional and an attempt to disguise instances of discrimination.
How would this happen?
Microaggressions are a bit hard to define because they are often subtle and they can be everyday events.
For example, perhaps a worker grew up in the United States and has lived there for their entire life. However, their parents were immigrants, so they still have the physical characteristics of their parents’ home country. Someone may remark to them that they “speak such good English.”
The person who said it may have meant it, but they may also have been implying that people of that minority group usually do not have a good grasp of the English language or are uneducated. Both of these things are untrue, especially in the case of the employee who grew up in the United States, who speaks English as their first language and who has the same education as all the other employees. They are simply being discriminated against based on their ethnicity.
This is only one example of how a microaggression can occur, but it gives you a good idea of how everyday events can still create a hostile workplace environment. It’s important for those involved to understand their legal options.