Protecting your rights in the workplace.

Signs of Microaggressions in the Workplace

Microaggressions are brief, everyday exchanges that communicate derogatory or negative messages to individuals based on their membership in marginalized groups. Recognizing and addressing these subtle behaviors is crucial for creating a truly inclusive workplace.

Microaggression Signs

Here are some signs of microaggressions to watch out for:


Microaggressions often involve the use of stereotypes or assumptions about a person’s race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. Comments such as “You’re so articulate for someone from your background” or “You don’t seem like a typical [insert demographic]” can convey underlying biases and stereotypes.

Invalidation of Identity

Microaggressions may invalidate or dismiss a person’s identity or experiences. Statements like “You’re too sensitive” or “It’s not a big deal, just brush it off” minimize the impact of discriminatory behavior and undermine the experiences of those affected.

Exoticization or Othering

Exoticizing or othering occurs when individuals are treated as exotic or different based on their cultural background or identity. Comments like “Where are you really from?” or “You’re so exotic” can objectify and marginalize individuals, making them feel like outsiders in their own workplace.


Microaggressions can also take the form of overtly discriminatory or hostile behaviors, albeit in subtle ways. This may include derogatory jokes or comments, exclusion from social activities or opportunities, or intentional disregard for a person’s contributions or expertise.

Assumption of Inferiority

Microaggressions often convey an assumption of inferiority or incompetence based on a person’s identity. For example, statements like “You must have gotten this job because of affirmative action” or “You’re surprisingly good at [task typically associated with another group]” imply that the person’s achievements are not based on merit.


Microinsults are subtle comments or actions that convey rudeness, insensitivity, or disrespect toward a person’s identity or background. This may include backhanded compliments, subtle digs, or dismissive gestures that undermine a person’s sense of belonging and value in the workplace.


Gaslighting occurs when individuals are made to doubt their own experiences or perceptions of discrimination. This may involve denying or minimizing the impact of microaggressions, shifting blame onto the victim, or questioning their emotional reactions.

What To Do if You Experience Microaggressions in the Workplace

Experiencing microaggressions in the workplace can be challenging, but there are steps you can take to address the situation effectively:

  • Document the Incidents: Keep a record of the microaggressions you experience, including details such as the date, time, location, and individuals involved. Documenting incidents can provide evidence if you decide to report the behavior later.
  • Address the Issue Directly: If you feel comfortable and safe doing so, consider addressing the microaggression directly with the individual who made the comment or engaged in the behavior. Use assertive communication to express how their actions made you feel and why they are inappropriate.
  • Report the Behavior: If the microaggressions persist or escalate, consider formally reporting the behavior to HR or another designated authority within your organization. Follow the company’s policies and procedures for reporting workplace harassment or discrimination.
  • Seek External Support: If your organization does not address the microaggressions effectively or if you experience retaliation for reporting the behavior, file a formal complaint with the Civil Rights Department (CRD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Consider seeking legal advice from an experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer. They can assess your situation, advise you on your legal options, and advocate for your interests throughout the process.

Contact Yadegar, Minoofar & Soleymani, LLP today for a free consultation.