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What Should I Do With Discrimination at Work?

What Should I Do With Discrimination at Work?

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What Should I Do With Discrimination at Work?

Discrimination in the workplace is not only upsetting and immoral; it is also illegal. If you experienced discrimination by an employer, supervisor, or co-workers based on your gender, age, race, religion, or another protected class, you could file a lawsuit. You may qualify for damages such as lost benefits, emotional distress, back pay, and others.

Discrimination lawsuits can be complex and involve state and federal laws. If you do not know what you should do with discrimination at work, we can help. If you suffered ill-treatment at work, talking to our experienced and compassionate legal team can help you clarify your legal options. Morgan & Morgan is committed to fighting discrimination and helping victims get justice. Contact us now for free advice and help.

What Counts as Discrimination at Work?

According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), discrimination in the workplace is illegal. Unlawful discrimination occurs when a person is discriminated against due to their:

  • Age 
  • Race
  • Color 
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Marital status
  • National Origin
  • Pregnancy 
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Genetic information

There can also be other types of discrimination, such as unequal pay and retaliation by an employer. Discrimination at work is a growing problem in the US despite state and federal laws targeting the issue. In 2020 alone, more than 67,000 workplace discrimination charges were filed, according to the EEOC. Retaliation is by far the most common reason for filing a discrimination complaint. 

Examples of Illegal Discrimination

Discrimination can be subtle or involve more obvious actions such as name-calling and outright hostility. Common cases of discrimination at work involve:

Race 

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1981, and individual states’ laws make discrimination based on race illegal. Race discrimination can come in many forms, such as: 

  • Denying a promotion or raise
  • Hostile work environment and harassment
  • Racial slurs or derogatory remarks
  • Wrongful termination
  • Denial of benefits other employees enjoy
  • Denying job assignments

It is important to note that illegal discriminatory acts could be committed by a supervisor, co-worker, or even a customer of the workplace. 

Retaliation

Retaliation by an employer can include demotion, a cut in pay, wrongful termination, and similar retaliatory acts. By law, an employer cannot retaliate against any employee who made a discrimination complaint or assisted with a complaint. However, in many cases, retaliation can be tricky to prove. For example, in at-will states, employers can fire employees without having to provide a reason. This can leave employees scrambling to find evidence that their firing was a retaliatory act. Consider speaking to an employment attorney to understand your rights and options.

Gender

Discriminating against another sex in the workplace can include, among other acts:

  • Being denied equal pay 
  • Sexual harassment
  • Being denied promotions, benefits, or pay rises 

Harassment

A one-off incident such as an inappropriate joke or name-calling may not count as illegal harassment. However, if harassment becomes a condition of continued employment or is severe enough to create a hostile and toxic work environment, you could have a case.

Other Examples of Discrimination

Discrimination is unacceptable, and you do not have to stand for it. There are many different ways in which individuals could be discriminated against in the workplace based on their disability, religion, age, pregnancy, and for other reasons. Therefore, if you are unsure what you should do with discrimination at work, seek advice from an employment attorney as soon as you can.  

How an Employment Lawyer Can Help

Fighting discrimination can be challenging. Depending on your specific situation and employer, you might have to stand up against a corporation with a team of lawyers on retainer fighting employment cases. While employers generally know how to handle discrimination claims, employees may not have the knowledge, confidence, or resources to do so. Do not let this stand in the way of demanding equal treatment and justice. 

An employment attorney can handle your case from beginning to end, protect your legal rights, and fight for your best interests by:

  • Providing counsel for your specific situation
  • Determining whether you have a case
  • Filing a lawsuit
  • Gathering the relevant evidence to prove your case
  • Presenting your case strongly at court 
  • Negotiating a fair settlement

What You Can Do

You can help progress your discrimination case by diligently collecting evidence proving illegal discrimination at your workplace. This can include gathering witnesses’ statements, requesting certain documents from your employer, and assessing your workplace’s policies with regard to discrimination procedures. You may even unearth previous claims of discrimination at your work. You can also file a charge with the EEOC and your relevant state agency, if applicable. 

Do Not Wait With Filing a Discrimination Case

The timeline for filing a charge and pursuing justice can be prohibitively short with discrimination claims. Therefore, timely action is critical. You generally only have 180 days from the day the discrimination happened to file a claim with the EEOC, the federal agency responsible for workplace discrimination. There may also be other deadlines if you are planning to file your case with the relevant state agency.  

While the EEOC deadline can potentially be extended to 300 days, depending on your state’s discrimination laws, you should take action to protect your rights immediately after you experienced discrimination. Consulting with an employment attorney can be an excellent first step if you do not know where to turn. Your attorney can ensure that you meet all vital deadlines. If you wait too long to get started, you could lose your right to pursue damages from an employer.

Damages You Could Recover

Employees who experienced illegal discrimination could qualify for various damages, such as:

  • Back pay for wages, overtime, tips, commission, and vacation time
  • Compensation for emotional distress, embarrassment, and humiliation
  • Compensation for attorney’s fees and court costs
  • Costs for retraining and expenses connected to finding new employment
  • Punitive damages

You could also be entitled to additional awards, such as restoring benefits, salary adjustments, and reinstatement. An employment attorney from our firm can assess your case and advise you on which damages to seek in your individual circumstances.  

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FAQ

Discrimination at Work FAQs

  • Am I Protected if I Report Discrimination?

    Many employees are, understandably, concerned that reporting discrimination at work will lead to retaliation by their employer. As a result, discriminatory conduct may often go unreported. However, if you or someone you know experienced discrimination in the workplace, rest assured that there are federal and state laws in place that protect individuals reporting discrimination from retaliation. Employers must not retaliate against those who mention concerns, file complaints or cooperate in investigations dealing with workplace discrimination. 

    Unfortunately, employer retaliation can still be an issue. However, if an employer retaliated against you after you reported discrimination or took part in an investigation, you are not defenseless and could have grounds for legal action. Your employer will have to prove that whatever adverse reaction they took against you was for a non-discriminatory or non-retaliatory reason. If you experienced illegal retaliation, our legal teams can advise you on your next best steps in a free consultation.

  • How Do I Recognize Discrimination at Work?

    Not all adverse employment action amounts to discrimination. To have a case, you must be a member of a protected class, and the adverse employment action must be connected to this membership. In other words, if an employer singles you out due to your age, race, color, gender, religion or any other protected category, you could have a discrimination case. 

    If you are unsure whether your case qualifies for a discrimination complaint, consider whether you could answer any of the following questions with “yes”: 

    • Did your employer have valid reasons for taking action against you?
    • Are other workers who are not members of your protected class treated in a different way?
    • Would you have been treated differently if you were not a member of a protected class? 

    General signs that discrimination is ingrained in your workplace’s culture can also include:

    • Lack of diversity in the workforce
    • Demeaning supervisors and leadership
    • Inappropriate interview questions
    • Unjust promotion denials
    • Favoritism

    If you would have been treated better if you were not a member of a protected class or the action taken against you was not in line with the company’s policies, you could have a case against your employer. 

  • What Should I Do if I Experience Discrimination at Work?

    Consider taking the following steps when you are experiencing discrimination against you:

    1. Report the incident to your supervisor, employer, or human resources department.
    2. If your employer fails to address the situation, file a complaint with your state’s division of civil rights and/or the EEOC.
    3. Maintain a journal with information about the discriminatory acts such as time, date, location, and people involved.
    4. Speak to an employment lawyer to learn about your legal rights.
  • When Should I Contact an Attorney? 

    Knowing what to do can be challenging if you experience discrimination at work or got fired on discriminatory grounds. You might understandably be angry and upset, not knowing where to turn. An employment lawyer from our firm can provide a shoulder to lean on and help you navigate a discrimination claim. We can determine the best course of action in your specific circumstances.  Seeing an attorney as soon as possible can be vital if:

    • You have been unfairly fired and do not know where to turn
    • The time for filing a claim is running out 
    • You consider filing a lawsuit against your employer 
    • You did not receive a satisfactory response from the EEOC 

    Our dedicated attorneys can advocate for you and leave no step unturned to help you get justice if you have been unfairly treated at work.

  • How Much Do Employment Attorneys Charge?

    Employment attorneys may work on various fee structures, including:

    Hourly Fees

    Some employment lawyers charge hourly fees. This can be a reasonable solution if you simply need a document or letter drafted and do not anticipate any further requirements. However, hourly fees can work out costly since some lawyers charge several hundreds of dollars per hour. If your complaint turns into a dispute with your employer and a lawsuit, hourly fees could quickly turn into an astronomical bill. Moreover, if you lose the lawsuit, you will still have to pay the attorney’s hourly fees.

    Retainers

    Some attorneys charge retainers before they start working on your case. Retainers could amount to several thousands of dollars and are generally paid in advance. 

    Contingency Fee

    If you are looking to hire a lawyer for your discrimination case, working with someone on a contingency fee agreement can have several advantages:

    • You have no or few upfront costs
    • There are no out-of-pocket attorney’s fees to pay
    • You do not have to pay the lawyer at all if you lose your case

    With a contingency agreement, an attorney’s fee is usually a percentage of your final recovery or paid by the other party in the lawsuit. However, some lawyers charge clients for upfront costs such as court filing costs.

    At Morgan & Morgan, we believe that you have enough on your plate when dealing with discrimination and ill-treatment at work. You should not have to worry about being out of pocket on top of everything else. We do not charge you anything upfront and only recovers our pay if and when we win. 

  • Morgan & Morgan Fights Workplace Discrimination 

    All employees deserve respect and a healthy work environment. Discrimination can have devastating emotional and financial consequences on victims who could miss out on promotions or experience wrongful terminations.

    Our tenacious and compassionate employment attorneys know the detrimental effects workplace discrimination can have on your work and home life. We are here to stand up for your rights. If you don’t know what you should do with discrimination at work, please reach out. We have helped victims of workplace discrimination for decades and could help you get justice and compensation too. Get started today by scheduling a free and confidential consultation.  

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