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Discrimination against part-time workers is a real thing

Are you a part-time worker who feels treated differently, even if it is subtle, from your full-time counterparts? Employer and employee discrimination against part-time workers is a real thing, but there is not much written about it compared with discrimination on the basis of age, gender or sexuality.

1. Spillover effect of other discrimination

There are more female part-time workers than there are male. Sexual harassment of females in the workplace happens a lot, as do women getting passed over for promotions or being criticized for requesting more flexible schedules. Some of the discrimination against part-time workers is likely a spillover effect based on who they are.

2. Perception of "less than qualified"

There is a tendency to see full-time work as the standard to aspire to. In fact, many part-timers want to work full-time, but the opportunities are not there yet. Some, however, prefer part-time work, perhaps because of how well it meshes with their personal lives. In any case, many people in the workplace subconsciously see part-timers as slackers, lazy and not productive like their counterparts. Depending on the workplace culture, a part-timer may actually have a harder time getting a full-time job than applicants from outside the business. Projects, unique opportunities and more tend to get handed off to full-timers. This can also affect you in the form of:

  • Lower (or no) pay raises
  • Making less money per hour than a full-timer
  • Dealing with stricter consequences when you make a mistake
  • Being skipped over for promotions or full-time consideration

In the eyes of many an employer, "part time" means "lesser than," even if the businesses do not recognize what is going on.

3. Less legal standing

In fact, you could argue that the perception of "less than qualified" spills over into federal law. As an example, the 1963 Equal Pay Act aims to address disparities between gender and pay. Workers, whether male or female, must be paid similarly and receive similar benefits for work that is more or less the same. For part-time workers, the catch comes in the fact that the law allows them to compare their pay only to other part-time workers who have similar experience.

While part-time employee discrimination is a real thing, it is often subtle. After all, full-time workers see one another more and have more opportunities to form emotional bonds with one another. The legal issues around discrimination can be complex, so if you feel you are being discriminated against at work, it may be in your best interest to consult with an attorney.

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