Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Science




Weststar, Johanna


Minoritized employees are not protected from all forms of discrimination such as microaggressions. These are subtle discriminatory acts, with or without intent to harm, that target minoritized identities. Little research has investigated LGBTQ+ microaggressions even though the community is particularly at risk or tried to discern the unique nature of microaggressions when compared to other forms of subtle discrimination such as incivility. This study tested the relationship between LGBTQ+ microaggressions and job engagement, the roles of organizational trust and outness as moderators, as well as the unique contribution of microaggressions over and above incivility. LGBTQ+ microaggressions were not significantly related to job engagement in all but one tested model. Organizational trust and outness did significantly positively predict job engagement but did not moderate the relationship between LGBTQ+ microaggressions and engagement. Incivility was significantly negatively related to job engagement and was also highly correlated with LGBTQ+ workplace microaggressions.

Summary for Lay Audience

Overt discrimination against minoritized groups has become less common in workplaces. However, subtle forms of discrimination still exist and can impact workers. Microaggressions are a form of more subtle discrimination that harm the LGBTQ+ workforce. These acts are less obvious than bullying or harassment, but instead may take the forms of comments, or actions that undermine someone’s marginalized identity (i.e. not using someone’s chosen pronouns). Little research has tried to understand the impact microaggressions may have on LGBTQ+ employees and whether they impact how these employees engage with their job. It also remains to be seen whether microaggressions are truly different than other subtle forms of workplace discrimination like incivility. Acts of incivility include a general rudeness or a deviation from social norms in how one should be treated in the workplace (i.e. leaving someone out of a group lunch). This study examined whether LGBTQ+ microaggressions were related to workers feeling less engaged with their jobs. The study also looked at whether trusting one’s organization or having disclosed your LGBTQ+ identity (being “out”) to others in their lives helped to buffer the potential negative impact of microaggressions. Lastly, the study examined whether microaggressions negatively impacted workers above and beyond any impact that general acts of incivility had on them. The study did not find much support for microaggressions negatively affecting how engaged employees were at work, but this may be due to the measure or sample used in the study. Trust in one’s organization and being out did relate to employees feeling more engaged. Though, neither helped to buffer the impact LGBTQ+ microaggressions. On the other hand, acts of incivility were related to employees feeling less engaged. Notably, scores on the measures of incivility and microaggressions used in this study were highly related to one another. This could point to a potential overlap between the two and furthers the notion that more research should be conducted to better understand the unique natures of each. Research should also investigate how LGBTQ+ workplace microaggressions are measured and determine whether they are currently being accurately captured.