Everyone deserves to work in an environment that is fair, safe, and inviting. Yet not all employers and coworkers will see things this way. Workplace and employment discrimination are common, and they come in many different forms. Technically, discrimination is the maltreatment of one worker due to their status in a protected class. Age, sex, religion, race, and disability are among the most commonly cited protected classes at the federal level. Your state might have additional protected classes outlined in its constitution.
What are you supposed to do if you believe you have faced discrimination in your workplace? You have the right to stand up for yourself, but how you do so is important. You will also need to get the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) involved to file a Charge of Discrimination.
Remain Factual About Everything
Allowing emotions and misleading interpretations into an employment discrimination case can be damaging to the overall purpose of that case. The EEOC and related courts cannot help you if there is no actual incident of discrimination, but instead only “hunches” or “bad feelings.” In many cases that flounder, the worker has no solid ground to make begin their point because they were not focused on the facts.
When you think you are facing workplace discrimination, the first thing you need to do is to approach everything factually and analytically. Have you faced discrimination or just a workplace situation you did not like yet did not violate your rights? Asking this question now saves administrators and possibly judges from needing to ask it later, saving everyone time, energy, and resources.
Record Discriminatory Acts in Detail
The best friend to anyone who wants to report an employer for discrimination is a solid, clear, and concise “paper trail” of evidence. In some cases, a single incident of discrimination is not enough for further action to be taken against that employer because it could be excused as a bad lapse of judgment. But numerous actions and incidents that have been recorded by the complainant help show that the discrimination was no isolated incident.
Save and write down as much as you can about the incidents of discrimination you encounter. Make copies of emails that have harassed you, retain physical copies of any printed discriminatory documents, save relevant text messaging records, and so forth. The more tangible evidence you can bring forth later, the better.
Report to the EEOC
Under most federal- and state-level laws, you cannot spring into action and file an employment discrimination lawsuit against an employer as soon as you think they have discriminated against you. As unusual as it might seem, you instead need to go to the EEOC and file a Charge of Discrimination. This document essentially makes your complaint official with the EEOC once you sign it. The EEOC cannot and will not take any sort of action for your case until you sign this form.
Keep in mind that statutes of limitations are in place that can prevent you from filing a complaint with the EEOC if you wait too long. In most cases, you have only 180 days to file the Charge of Discrimination form since the last date of discrimination. Yet this amount could be briefer, depending on your employment situation.
After a Charge of Discrimination is filed, the EEOC has 180 days to investigate your claims and take action. It can request that you and your employer enter mediations to end the conflict, but this outcome might not work well if your employer is denying your accusations. Or the EEOC can allow you to file an employment discrimination lawsuit against your employer after you file a Notice of Right to Sue with the EEOC. Although, some forms of discrimination do not require this additional form to be approved and can be answered with a lawsuit you file in federal court within 60 days of filing your Charge of Discrimination.
Brace for Retaliation
It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against you for filing a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC. Of course, it is also unlawful for an employer to discriminate against you, so they might not hesitate to retaliate against you, too.
Pay close attention to how you are treated after filing your complaint. Assuming that your employer does not outright treat you poorly or fire you, it is possible you could be victimized by more subtle forms of retaliation. For example, you could be given worse shifts that conflict with your set schedule, be provided fewer hours overall, or be overlooked for a promotion that most people agree you deserve. No matter what form of retaliation you might face, record it with the same thoroughness that you used when recording acts of discrimination.
Call an Employment Discrimination Attorney
You should consult with a lawyer as soon as you think you need help working on your discrimination case. If you have not filed your Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC yet, then your discrimination attorney could provide general counsel for filling out that form. Otherwise, you will probably not need to hire a lawyer until after that form is filed and you are awaiting a response.
Depending on what the EEOC wants to do, your attorney can help you in various ways. For example, if the EEOC wants to investigate your claims, then your attorney can assist with that investigation by providing their insight and evidence they have already gathered. Or your attorney can represent you in mediations for a fair conclusion, which might be a settlement offer to pay for lost wages or to formally apologize for unacceptable employment violations. In either case, you will not want to go through the entire process on your own because you could be giving a major advantage to your employer and whatever defense attorneys they have waiting.
Do you think you have been discriminated against while working in Modesto, California? Rancaño & Rancaño, APLC would like to hear from you. Call (916) 884-6554 or fill out an online form to set up an initial consultation with our team. Se habla Español.