Advocating For California Employee Rights

Workplace injustice: Discrimination by association

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2019 | Uncategorized

Many people spend the majority of their day in their work environments. Therefore, workplace discrimination can have a strong, negative impact on their lives.

In order to address discrimination, one must first be able to identify it. Along with the common types of workplace discrimination, there are some that people do not always immediately recognize, such as discrimination by association.

What is discrimination on the basis of association?

People do not always recognize this form of discrimination due to its indirect nature. In short, it is unlawful for your employer to discriminate against you just because you are friends with, defend or a family member of a person who is a member of a legally protected class. For example, your employer is not allowed to discriminate against you just because your spouse is a member of a particular religion.

Another element that makes this form of discrimination hard to distinguish is that you may not be in the same protected class as the person or group of people that the discriminating employer is targeting. For example, a male coworker may experience discrimination by association for standing up for a female coworker who was harassed or discriminated against.


Inappropriate comments or “jokes” are the most obvious form of discrimination. However, with the rise of people speaking out against harassment and discrimination, many offenders are trying to mask their discriminatory behavior. Intentionally excluding individuals, spreading rumors, and increasing or minimizing an employee’s workload are all possible signs of discrimination.


As with other workplace discrimination cases, reporting the incident to management should be the first course of action. In order to prove the claim, it’s important to make a record of all incidents of discrimination that you experience. Should management not address the issue appropriately, you may seek further action and pursue a court claim.