Work can be really hard sometimes. This is especially true in today’s culture, where giant corporations can replace any of their employees very quickly. This is no excuse for workplace discrimination. It is important to know your rights. If you think that you are being discriminated against at work, then you may want to contact us for a free consultation. Before you decide, here is some basic information about discrimination in the workplace.
What is discrimination in the workplace?
A basic knowledge of what legally constitutes workplace discrimination can help you quickly decide whether this is what is happening to you or whether your case falls under a different protection.
Simply put discrimination is when you are treated with prejudice as it pertains to hiring practices, wages, promotions, which assignments you receive, how you are trained, layoffs, and benefits. Protected classes include gender, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, disabilities, or national origin.
The Equal Pay Act requires employees to pay equal wages for equal job. While many assume this pertains to gender discrimination, the act pertains to all protected classes that fall under the workplace discrimination legislation.
Age: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects you from discrimination based on your age if you feel that you are being treated unfairly because you are older than 40 years of age.
Sex: You are protected from any discrimination based on your gender or sexual orientation. These laws include but are not limited to protections against unfair hiring practices and differences in salary and wages. Included in this category is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which forbids employers from discriminating against pregnant women and requires they provide reasonable accommodations.
Race and National Origin: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 prohibit discrimination based on race, citizenship, or immigration status. It is illegal to discriminate based on perceived or actual ethnic backgrounds.
Religion: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also makes it illegal to discriminate against employees based on their religion. This also requires them to make all reasonable accommodation for religious practices unless it presents undue burden to the employer.
Disability: The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act prevent employers from discriminating against current or potential employees based on physical or mental disabilities or previous medical conditions. How do discrimination and harassment differ?
Unlike discrimination, harassment pertains to conduct that is discriminatory or sexual. It must be continuous, severe, or a condition of your employment. While discrimination deals specifically with protected classes of people and official company policies and practices, harassment can happen to anyone and specifically pertains to the actions of others, including coworkers.
Types of Discrimination
All types of discrimination are accounted for under these laws. Direct discrimination (or disparate treatment) is when someone is treated unfavorably due to his or her protected class. This happens when stereotypes about their abilities and character lead to unfair assumptions about what they are able to do in a workplace. This discrimination is intentional, and usually the most obvious form.
Indirect discrimination (or disparate impact) happens when policies are imposed that inadvertently disadvantage a protected class. For example, if your hiring criteria screens out women or minorities, that has a disparate impact on the members of these groups and is considered indirect workplace discrimination.
Reverse discrimination is under heavy debate these days. Title VII protects groups that are typically not in need of protections because they do not see discriminatory practices affecting them. A case is occasionally made that systems enacted to correct past discriminations may actually become discriminatory towards the historically advantaged groups in practice. This is the hardest form of discrimination to argue and pursue.
Who handles these cases?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing the federal laws regarding misconduct in the workplace, including discrimination charges. They are in charge of investigating charges of discrimination when they are made against employers. They will attempt to settle when their findings show a case of discrimination and they have the authority to file lawsuits to protect employee rights.
The EEOC allows you 180 days in which to act from the time the discrimination occurs, so it is important that if you feel you have been discriminated against, you should file your Charge of Discrimination and begin legal proceedings.
Because these extremely time sensitive cases have very high stakes, with the potential of job loss if you lose your case and the inability to file anonymously, it is recommended that you have an experienced attorney when beginning these proceedings. The Brown Firm is happy to talk with you about your legal needs and case details and help you decide how best to proceed. They have extensive experience in this field and provide free consultations.