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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

Physicist Discrimination

physicist conducting experiment

Physicist Discrimination

Despite the versatility of physicists in employment, physicists struggle with employment discrimination as well due to gender, race, age, disability, religion, color. Whether in a laboratory or working in a school, physicists offer analytical, mathematical, and critical thinking skills. These men and women are clearly assets to every industry and yet still may face employment discrimination.

When a physicist deals with employment discrimination and tries to resolve the issue through in-house means and nothing is solved, reaching out to an employment lawyer may be the next step to seek employee rights.

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Recognize Physicist Discrimination

Employment discrimination of physicists is illegal when the physicist experiences discrimination due to his or her legally protected class. Recognizing discrimination can be difficult because it is often subtle. But words often reveal symptoms of the root problem and patterns further illuminate discrimination. Stay aware of possible areas of discrimination.

Legally Protected Classes

  1. Race

  2. Color

  3. Religion

  4. Sex (including pregnancy)

  5. National origin

  6. Age (40 or older)

  7. Disability

Gender Discrimination

In today’s world, women are ultra sensitive to the reality of gender discrimination in male-dominated fields such as physics. That sensitivity helps women recognize discriminatory patterns in their workplace. And yet, this, too, can be an area where men might make comments about women being “too emotional” or “too sensitive to make it in the business.” Actions might be louder than words, but words reveal gender discrimination.

Casey Helmicki filed a lawsuit against her university when the teacher’s assistant supposedly told her that “Women shouldn’t be working with men in science.” Casey shares that the professor encouraged his teaching assistants to arrange the students in groups according to gender, arguing that studies showed that women did better in smaller groups with more females than males. When Casey switched labs in hopes to find a more balanced approach to genders, not only did she claim disappointment but she also shared that she was singled out. (Helmicki v. University of Cincinnati et al, 2016)

Race Discrimination

diverse group of people smiling

Minority physicists choose the field because of the science not because they will deal with discrimination due to their race. Some claim that science is non-discriminatory. However, the humans who study science often discriminate against each other. Employment discrimination can look like unequal distribution of work, micromanaging, and wrongful termination.

Bojing, an ethnically Chinese but American born man, started working in an oncology branch of a healthcare provider. It wasn’t long before other staff started to make fun of his race with derogatory names. His supervisor sometimes used the names with Bojing as well. As the weeks progressed, Bojing’s supervisor assigned smaller jobs to Bojing. And when Bojing asked about it, his supervisor became angry and fired him. Bojing very well may have a case for race discrimination.

Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination on the job can happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes, a worker with a long term disability is belittled and subjected to a hostile work environment while a worker that develops a short term disability might lose specific assignments due to the disability. Workers with disabilities are protected by law from discrimination.

Cecilia loved her job as an engineer physicist. But when she suffered knee injury from a fall, she required leave for recovery. When she returned to work, she needed either crutches or a wheelchair to get around on her own. A day after her return, her supervisor reassigned her, claiming that field experiments would be impossible for her. She argued that she’d be fine. A week later, Cecilia lost her job because they claimed that she was unable to perform her entire job due to her disability. Cecilia most likely has a case for disability discrimination.

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Fight Physicist Discrimination

Pennsylvania provides a number of protections to workers alongside the federal law. Pennsylvania law obligates employers to not discriminate against employees and to work in an environment free of harassment. Moreover, when these laws are broken in some way, the employee may choose to bring a lawsuit against his or her employer.

Fighting employment discrimination means knowing what rights are available under the law. Therefore, educate yourself on the laws that outline employee rights. But besides that, certain options are available to you even within the workplace to try to resolve the problem.

1. Read The Employee Handbook

Often, this handbook outlines how to handle discrimination, including who to tell. In some cases, the HR department handles complaints of employment discrimination while sometimes it’s the direct supervisor. However, always choose to speak with a neutral party who has not been involved in the discriminatory action against you.

2. Speak To Your Boss Or Employer

Always try to work out the problem within the company before seeking legal justice since the law prefers to see that all possibility for resolution have been taken before filing a lawsuit. Most businesses recognize the importance of staying within  the law. When you speak with your employer or HR representative, be prepared

Things To Know

woman behind computer screen with fingers pointing at her

  1. Know your employee rights

  2. Stay factual when explaining the situation

  3. Remain professional and calm

  4. Share your concerns privately

  5. Follow up after the meeting

3. Keep Notes On The Problem

When dealing with ongoing discrimination or harassment, collect information that supports your rights. For example, write down all the details about discriminatory events or comments. Ask coworkers to write down comments that they’ve heard about you that are discriminatory. You also may want to gather paperwork such as company policies, employee handbook, performance reports, and emails that might support your case. However, be careful to only save materials that aren’t confidential since confidential documents could compromise legal clams.

4. Consult An Employment Lawyer

When nothing is resolved by presenting the discrimination problem to your employer or HR department, it may be time to speak with a lawyer. A good lawyer scrutinizes the situation and understands if your case will hold up in court. Your situation must be almost undeniably discrimination, and then a lawyer also knows the amount of damages that you should demand from your employer. The lawyers at Kraemer, Manes & Associates offer a free consultation so call not to hear whether or not you have a case under the law.

If you have experienced employment discrimination as a physicist, contact an employment discrimination lawyer who will know how to navigate your case and your rights under the law.

Don’t hesitate, talk to an attorney: (412) 626-5626 or

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