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Employment discrimination can come in many forms. A hostile work environment could make a job difficult for people of a certain background, while systemic discrimination in hiring could create a homogeneous culture within the company.

Employers can have an illegal preference for workers of a particular religion, racial background or gender. Companies may also discriminate against older workers or individuals with protected health conditions, including pregnancy. Sometimes, discrimination involves one person or a company targeting an individual. Other times, a company can make sweeping, discriminatory changes to the business.

Restructuring a company can be a smokescreen for discrimination in hiring and retention policies. Companies have an obligation to actively avoid discrimination when restructuring and changing their work staff. Knowing the warning signs of unfair or inappropriate restructuring practices can help you stand up for your rights if your employer tries to terminate or demote you inappropriately in a restructuring effort.

Look for trends in which individuals the company retains and fires

Restructuring typically involves taking stock of the company’s organization and assets to determine the most efficient way to continue doing business. If two departments perform similar functions, for example, restructuring might involve combining those departments and eliminating some of the positions. Other times, the company could completely get rid of certain departments and either move the staff from those areas to other parts of the company or terminate their employment.

When looking at who loses their job and who receives a transfer, you may notice certain trends. Perhaps most of the people the company choses to terminate or fire were over a certain age. Maybe all the female employees got left behind in the restructuring process. When there is an obvious link between a protected characteristic and whether someone retains their job, the business may have broken employment laws about discrimination during the restructuring process.

You can take action even if the company has tried to cover their tracks

Too many people seem afraid to stand up for their rights because of the potential expenses or stress involved in doing so. However, when a company discriminates against you, that can have a profound impact on your earning potential and the trajectory of your career. You shouldn’t allow an employer to violate your rights simply because they have discriminatory preferences about their staff.

A business can restructure and terminate employees in order to generate profits for shareholders or ensure financial solvency for the future. However, they must make employment decisions without consideration of protected characteristics such as gender, age, religion or racial background.

When a company clearly targets one group of people for termination in a restructuring effort, it may be possible to bring discrimination claims against the company to offset the financial and career impact of the loss of your job.