If you are being discriminated against at work, you know well the emotional toll it is taking on you. However, one study suggests workplace discrimination takes a physical toll too, in the form of high blood pressure.
The study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association examined workplace discrimination based on race, sex and age. It found that ongoing discrimination might damage a person’s heart health. Specifically, chronic stress due to workplace discrimination may cause a person to develop high blood pressure.
The participants in the study did not have previous blood pressure problems, did not smoke and were not regular drinkers. The study followed the participants for eight years, during which participants completed surveys regarding their experiences with discriminatory acts or harassment in the workplace.
Of the 1,246 participants in the study, 319 developed high blood pressure. There was a correlation between participants experiencing workplace discrimination and subsequently developing high blood pressure over the eight years the study was conducted.
Why this study matters
This study is interesting for several reasons. Of course, there is the health aspect. Medical professionals should be aware of how heart conditions could be caused by social circumstances such as workplace discrimination.
In addition, we cannot ignore the fact that these mental and physical health conditions caused by workplace discrimination could cause us to leave our job before we are technically fired or demoted.
We might argue this treatment constitutes a constructive adverse employment action. Alternatively, we might argue we were subject to a hostile work environment due to the impact the discrimination had on our health.
Employers cannot make any adverse employment decisions on a worker’s race, age or sex, along with several other protected categories. In addition, they cannot support a work environment that is hostile or otherwise intolerable to certain workers based on the worker’s race, age, sex or other protected status.
If we are subject to workplace discrimination and suffer harm due to it, including harm to our health, we might be able to seek compensation. We may or may not want our job back, but we should have the opportunity to recover damages for the financial losses we endured.