Fighting Discrimination Should Not Be A Career Limiting Move


I am currently the victim of discrimination at work which took me a long time to admit. I can’t really tell you the particulars, like where I work or the kind of discrimination I’m experiencing. Suffice to say I work for a large phone retailer you’ve probably heard of, and the situation has something to do with my child.

I wasn’t sure, at first, if what was being asked of me was reasonable or not. I just thought it was a little bit unreasonable, but over time I began to realise the stress of dealing with this situation was having an impact on my family, and having an impact on me. It was stopping me making plans with friends, costing me money, and affecting my ability to do my job.

I sought advice.

The legal advice I received: Your situation is 100% discrimination. You can fight it, and even sue, but you have to realise that would be a career limiting step.

A career limiting step.

Basically I am in a position where, to fight for my legal rights as an employee, I am being forced to choose whether or not I want to advance my career. I had no idea these were the only options.

There’s something wrong in the world when someone can be discriminated against and, if they choose to fight it, have no choice but to shoot themselves in the foot. This worries me. Not just for me, now stuck in this place of being unable to choose what I should do from here. Backed into a corner such that I feel I have no alternative but to seek employment elsewhere, even though I know my work would be very sad to see me go. But also for those who have more overt triggers to become the victim of discrimination. For those who are disabled, who are chronically ill, who are gay.

Fighting discrimination should not be a career limiting step.

On the one hand I can stand up for my rights, I can call out those who are asking these things of me as discriminating against me. I can fight, take it to HR, and maybe pave the way for someone else to be strong enough to do the same.

If I take that route, I have to do so knowing it may ultimately cost me my job. Not because I would be fired, but forced to resign, and it may affect my employment possibilities in the future.

On the other hand I can carry on, say nothing, keep my job safe and my family afloat, and know I’m the victim of discrimination and there’s nothing I can do but leave.

What would you do?


  • melinka

    Oh dear, that’s a tough one. I hesitate to give you advice without knowing your situation, but I think it’s one of things that once it’s happened to you, you can’t really go back to the ways things were. Either you put your head down and try to get on with it, in which case the unfairness of it will eat away at you until you do eventually leave. Or, you speak to someone, try to recruit as much support as you can and hope for a good outcome. It is unfair, but it’s up to you to choose what will work best in your life.

    Good luck, hopefully better things will lie ahead :)

  • John James

    I’ve really thought hard about this one, and I think it all boils down to this…

    Some people are activists, and some are not… I’m not an activist and I’d be inclined to walk away and leave the fighting to others… but that’s just me…

    But I’d also look carefully at your motivation – leaving aside the fact that discrimination of any form is wrong – think about what is motivating you…

    If you’re driven be a need for revenge, then I’d be really cautious about your next move…

    But if you really are an advocate for change – if you believe in standing up for your rights, not just because of how it affects you, but because it will help other people in your position, then I don’t think you need to worry about your career in the long term…

    Let me give you an example: Carly Findlay! (and if you don’t know who Carly is, click “The Team” link at the top of the page.)

    A few years ago Carly decided to invest a lot of her time into becoming an activist – she became a high-profile and dedicated advocate of body image and disability awareness. At times, this has made her the target of some pretty nasty attention from trolls and bigots – but on the other side of the equation, she has helped a lot of people. But not only that – she has had new and interesting career opportunities open up for her because of her activism.

    Some doors close, others open.

    If you’re really committed to cause of anti-discrimination and you’re prepared to invest a lot of time and effort into fighting the good fight, then I honestly believe that new opportunities for growth and advancement in your life will appear and take the place of anything you need to sacrifice… but I also believe that this will only happen if you’re 100% committed to the fight.

    I can’t answer these questions for you – but I hope my comment will help you work towards a decision.

    All the best to you, no matter what you decide.

  • Jeanie

    I am now a temp – I have been for 25 years – because I don’t want to be tied to workplaces because of my bad experiences – politics, discrimination, negative energy, rude bosses and inefficient work practices. I think the option I have chosen has definitely limited my career options, but also it means that when I leave work, I leave work behind.

    I have a friend who was severely bullied in the workplace and is
    currently going through another major breakdown thanks to that. Some
    workplaces are just poisonous.

    • Tamsin Howse

      I hear you on that one! I have been through some pretty bad workplace bullying as well.

      I wish I knew what the OP should do, but I’ve hesitated with commenting because I just don’t know.

  • Olly

    Are you able to elaborate on how it effects your child? That would make a difference in how I would respond.

  • Rowena Newton

    My husband has a favourite quote from his uncle which relates to driving. “Some causes are worth fighting for. The right of way isn’t one of them.” I urge you to honestly evaluate how staying in this untenable situation is impacting on your physical and psychological health. When you think about the interconnectedness of our mind, body and spirit and the effect that putting our physical body into a situation where our mind or spirit is at least uncomfortable has consequences. I live with a severe auto-immune disease where my body attacks itself. Once these type of diseases start, you can’t turn back the clock. You can fight or flight your situation but if this discrimination really grates against your beliefs, I don’t believe you can put up or shut up without paying what could be a serious sacrifice.

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