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How does discrimination happen in virtual environments?

These days, more workers work from home than ever before. This has made space for significant changes in the modern workplace, with some positive and some negative.

Some of the most stubborn problems associated with physical workplaces have tracked into the virtual realm, though. Unfortunately, this includes issues related to discrimination and harassment.

Digital discrimination

The New York Times discusses virtual work environments and what that means for workers dealing with harassment. Unfortunately, putting a technological barrier between an aggressor and victim does very little to dissuade the aggressor. The modern workplace is still ripe with opportunities for people to victimize, bully and discriminate against others.

For example, it is easy to ignore a worker who can do little more than sending emails, text messages and other non-physical nudges. Discriminatory employers may use this tactic to avoid having to deal with an employee they discriminate against, and may even use it as an excuse to blame unfinished business on the victim.

The problem with private channels

Private chat channels have also received a lot of heat lately. These channels allow for workers to create private discussion groups that exclude certain members of the staff. This allows for negative talk and rumors to grow unchecked, which can create a hostile work environment for the target of the campaign.

Finally, many of the same issues workers faced in in-person facilities still exist in virtual ones. Employers can unfairly pass someone over for promotion due to discriminatory reasons, or may demote them or give them less desirable work even in a digital environment. This is why it is important for workers to understand their rights in the new digital age.

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