When something bad happens and people are afraid, it’s a sad fact of human nature that those people often look for someone to blame for their troubles.
Right now, the United States, along with many other countries, is facing a viral outbreak of disease that isn’t like anything people have ever experienced in their lifetimes. Because the disease originated in China and spread from there via international travel, some people have referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.” This association has put many Asian Americans of all ethnic heritages in danger of both subtle and overt acts of discrimination, even in their workplaces.
Everywhere, Asian Americans report that they’ve been verbally harassed, subjected to violence and openly discriminated against or singled out since this health crisis began.
What could racially-oriented discrimination in the workplace look like? Right now, employers are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of every employee — so many are sending people home. However, if your employee seems to only be sending the Asian employees out the door, that could be discrimination.
Verbal abuse that’s tolerated (or instigated) by management is also a sign of workplace discrimination. For example, if a couple of your co-workers start making slurs about your ancestry or tossing accusations around about how “you people” caused the coronavirus outbreak, management should immediately step in. If they don’t, that’s a sign that you’re being treated differently because of your race.
Subjecting you to intrusive questions about your travel, your health and your relatives under the guise of infection control efforts could also be considered racial discrimination — unless the company is asking everyone the exact same questions.
Unfortunately, the racial biases left after this crisis is over may linger for a long time. If you find yourself dealing with racial discrimination at work, find out more about your legal rights.