What to Do If You Witness Discrimination in the Workplace

Diversity is one of the most critical factors shaping the future of the workforce. The world is becoming more diverse, and that shift means it’s becoming more important than ever to have a diverse workforce.

Discrimination can take many forms and is often unintentional. It can show itself through personal biases of your co-workers, differences in culture, or poor hiring practices. The good news is that discrimination is something that can be addressed and redressed. Here’s what you can do if you witness discrimination in the workplace.

Speak Up and Stay Strong

This is the most obvious solution and one we recommend first. It’s important to take a stand if you encounter discrimination. Discrimination is illegal and can result in negative consequences for both parties. You are under no obligation to speak up about discrimination, and that’s okay – but you should consider it.

Even if you don’t feel comfortable speaking up in a public setting, consider writing a letter or emailing your supervisor or an HR manager. It can be anonymous.

Document Exact Details of the Incidents

It may not be easy to document every instance of discrimination, but doing so will make proving your case easier when required. Keep detailed records of the interactions with your co-workers, such as dates and times, along with a list of specific comments made by co-workers that give rise to discriminatory behavior. A written statement need not be verbatim; it should be complete enough to help prove discrimination claims should they ever arise.

Encourage the Affected Person to Speak to the HR Manager

Take the initiative early on to encourage the affected person to speak with an HR manager or other authorities about their concerns. The affected person must be aware of the legal protections they are entitled to obtain and how they can report discriminatory behavior. You should offer your support and assistance in finding a path that may best suit their needs.

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Seek Legal Advice

If you feel discriminated against, it is a wise decision to seek legal advice. In addition to gathering evidence (through interviews and correspondence), you may want to employ an attorney to represent your interests in court.

If the complaint is made against an individual (not company policy), this person must be a lawyer, not an HR representative. Speaking with an attorney from reputable firms, such as, should give you clear instructions on how you can proceed with litigation if necessary.

Get Another Job

In some cases, the discrimination experienced may be so extreme as to warrant termination. Even an employer that is otherwise good to work for can find themselves in a position where they cannot keep discriminatory acts at bay despite their efforts. In those cases, you may have no choice but to look for a new job with another company or employer.


Everyone experiences discrimination in the workplace. It’s as simple as that. Even though everyone might not face the same challenges or have the same experiences, they all feel the effects of discrimination. Regardless of whether it is intentional or unintentional, you need to know what to do if you witness discrimination at the workplace. We hope this article has enlightened on some of the most crucial steps.

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