Discrimination occurs in all areas of life. When it happens in the workplace, it can impact your livelihood and the ability to get a job, retain employment, and get raises and promotions. Workplace discrimination happens more often than many people realize. According to a study by Glassdoor, more than 60% of workers in the United States have seen discrimination or experienced it firsthand. Over the last decade, more than a million discrimination lawsuits were filed in the United States.
What is Discrimination in the Workplace?
Workplace discrimination can take many forms, starting with the hiring process. Discrimination can be overt, but often it is subtle. The most common forms of discrimination are based on race, gender, religion, and disability. There are other types such as discrimination because of pregnancy, age, and other factors. An employer cannot fail to consider you for a position or promotion or otherwise treat you unfairly due to your race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other reason. The employer must only consider your skills, abilities, training, education, and performance.
Federal and State Discrimination Protection Laws
Federal and state laws are in place to protect workers against discrimination in the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was formed by the federal government to oversee and protect workers across the country. In addition, state laws provide some protection against unfair workplace treatment. Employers can face penalties that could include fines and other punishments if they are found to have illegally discriminated against an employee or applicant. In addition to treating you fairly, employers also have a duty not to retaliate against you if you filed a complaint or assisted with a complaint investigation.
Was I Discriminated Against?
Sometimes, discrimination is easy to spot, however, often, the signs are less obvious. For instance, if you apply for a job, you will take part in an interview. The employer is not allowed to ask you questions about your race, religion, or other personal matters. However, the employer will immediately see your race, gender, age, and more. You may have the best qualifications for a position, but you may not be selected due to discriminatory practices. As an employee, you may see that you were passed up for a promotion or not given a raise when others who were less qualified got the position instead. These are examples of possible discrimination in the workplace. It can be difficult to prove discrimination. Therefore, it is helpful to seek legal guidance if you feel that you are the victim of workplace discrimination.
What to Do About Workplace Discrimination
If you feel that you may be the victim of workplace discrimination, start by gathering and maintaining as many records as possible. You want to document the issues that occur at work with as much detail and accuracy as possible. If your company has a human resources department, report the matter to them. They should immediately take action to investigate the situation and take steps to resolve your concerns. Generally, before you can file a lawsuit against a company you must first file a report with the EEOC. In some cases, the harassment at work could worsen as a result of your complaint. Contact an attorney to discuss your options. Your lawyer will help you take the next steps such as sending a letter to your employer, filing an EEOC complaint, or filing a lawsuit.
To learn more about workplace discrimination, contact our legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. online or by phone at (608) 784-8310 today.