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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

Project Management Discrimination

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Planning All The Projects: Project Management Discrimination

From technology to fashion, project managers run the world and still experience employment discrimination. A happy project manager is a happy project. But when discrimination, hostile work environment, or sexual harassment comes onto the scene, things undoubtedly become more complicated.

If you are a project manager and you’ve faced negative employment action due to your legally protected class, speak with an employment lawyer today.

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Project Managers Protected From Discrimination

Project managers thrive in a fast-paced, intense work environment, often managing one giant project or multiple smaller projects. As the head of these projects, the project manager receives the praise for work well done and faces the fall out when a project stumbles. No one has time for discrimination or harassment, least of all a project manager.

After all, a hostile work environment ruins a thriving work place. Discrimination against a project manager can occur for a variety of reasons. When a hostile work environment or negative employment action takes place due a legally protected class status, the action is illegal and actionable under law.

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  1. Race

  2. Color

  3. Religion

  4. Sex (including pregnancy)

  5. National origin

  6. Age (40 or older)

  7. Disability

  8. Genetic information

Despite the heightening awareness of workplace discrimination and the push for workplace equality, employment discrimination continues. Recognizing subtle discrimination can be difficult. However, an employment discrimination attorney can recognize discrimination and ascertain the eligibility of a situation for legal aid.

Examples of Project Manager Discrimination

To flesh out the reality of discrimination within the project manager profession, we provide these examples. Part of fighting a culture of discrimination is being aware of what discrimination can look like in regular life. The following examples show gender, racial, and age discrimination.

Gender Discrimination in Project Management

The male-dominated field of project management is slowly welcoming women to its ranks. Mainstream research still tries to show that statistics are gender neutral, but with so few women in project management, the information cannot be gender neutral. Female project managers shouldn’t be overlooked for the power they can bring to leading a project to completion.

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For example, Gina is the first female project manager at her tech company. She knows that as a female she is a minority in this workplace. Despite her hard work and handling of her team, she has a few male coworkers who refuse to respect her in group setting, often derailing meetings with their sexist jokes. Gina has spoken to each individually and has filed a complaint with her employer, but more recently, when Gina assigned a specific task to one man, he exclaimed, “You can’t make me do this. Why am I taking assignments from a girl anyway?” Gina might have a gender discrimination case.

Race Discrimination in Project Management

No one should experience discrimination in the workplace due to their race or skin color. This is illegal. On a human to human factor, everyone should be treated with dignity and kindness. And yet, employment discrimination still occurs where employers, managers, or coworkers create a hostile work environment for a project manager of another race.

For example, Yesh is a project manager at a construction company, and he’s one of the few non-white employees. His boss routinely messes up the pronunciation of his name and even goes so far as to suggest alternate names for him. Some of those suggested names are derogatory. When Yesh confronted his boss about it, his boss laughed it off as “good, clean fun.” Yesh disagrees. A few weeks after this conversation, Yesh noticed that his boss was ignoring him and training a new, white employee. When Yesh was suddenly fired, he found out that this white man was his replacement. Yesh could have a case for race discrimination.

Age Discrimination in Project Management

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Despite years of experience in the world, industry, and project management, men and women who have reached a certain age of maturity often deal with age discrimination on the job. Sometimes it’s as subtle as a boss asking when they plan to retire or more blatant where office nicknames like “grandma” or “grandpa” catch on in the workplace. When this treatment precedes a negative employment action, such as firing or demotion, it is age discrimination.

At 56, Max enjoyed working as a project manager. Although surrounded by colleagues younger than himself, Max never noticed a difference in treatment until his direct supervisor, who was in his fifties as well, was fired. A 30-something man became his supervisor. From that moment on, things changed. Max’s supervisor micro-managed his work, and during a meeting that Max was leading, his supervisor said, “Are you sure you don’t have Alzheimer’s? How old are you again?” Soon after that meeting, Max was fired. Max could have a case for age discrimination.

Recognizing the Discriminatory Reason Behind Termination

When preparing to file a lawsuit against an employer, an employee must know if the situation truly broke the law in some way. When an employer violates the law on discrimination, they can be sued for employment discrimination. Common laws that protect against discrimination are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA protects employees with disabilities from employment discrimination. If an individual has a disability that meets the definition of the ADA, the employer is obligated to offer accommodation and not make any employment decisions based on the disability.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Those 40 years and older are protected from employment discrimination by the ADEA. Any negative employment action, such as decrease in salary or termination, that can be traced back to age discrimination is against the law.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

This act protects the employment rights of people who might experience discrimination due to race, gender, color, religion, or national origin.

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How Do I File An Employment Discrimination Lawsuit?

Project manager employment discrimination requires the same type of awareness of discrimination as any other job. After all, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sets out clear rights for employees so you must know what your employee rights are. To build a legal case, you must have a series events that clearly point to discrimination, but you must also prove that you’ve done everything in your power to resolve the issue before going to court. The following steps can help you combat workplace discrimination.

1. Note discriminatory behavior.

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Often, discrimination appears in patterns so watch for behaviors that are repeated. Whether a manager is systematically terminating one group of people or only promoting those of another group, this can reveal subtle discrimination. Discrimination of legally protected classes is a serious offense against the law so don’t brush it off.

2. Write it down.

Any time discriminatory behavior is noticed, write it down. A project manager especially understands the importance of detailing the information surrounding the event, including the date, time, location, and what happened. Don’t just keep this information on a work computer but keep a copy at home in a safe place as well.

3. Keep work reports.

Sometimes when employees file a claim against an employer for employment discrimination, the company retaliates by terminating the employee with the reason of poor work performance. Not only is retaliation against the law, but nothing is so demoralizing as to have a false reason used for termination. Keep copies of work evaluations so you can prove that “poor work performance” was not a valid reason for termination.

4. Read the employee handbook.

Often, the employee handbook outlines how an employee should handle complaints of discrimination. The book should include a chain of command. And if one person in that group was a part of the discriminatory behavior, report the incidents to a neutral party.

5. Contact an employment discrimination lawyer.

When no change happens after you’ve tapped all the in-house resources for reporting discrimination and negative behavior, it may be time to contact a discrimination attorney. Not only can attorney guide you through the legal process, but an attorney adds credence to your claim. Employers start to take notice rather than ignore your complaint. A lawyer does a number of things on your behalf when dealing with a discrimination case including the following.

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  1. File a complaint with the right government agencies

  2. Investigate your case further to prepare for supporting the situation through the law

  3. Prepare you for the legal process

  4. File an employment discrimination lawsuit

Before a lawsuit can be filed, complaints must be filed. This hurdle requires a substantial amount of paperwork along with thorough understanding of the law. A lawyer can handle the process of filing a complaint and moving your case forward to a favorable outcome.

If you have experienced employment discrimination as a project manager, 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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