Workplace harassment and discrimination can take various forms. Broad federal laws prohibit these actions on the basis of a person’s race, gender, national origin, disability, religion, age, and reproductive status, among several other classifications. Local and state laws often include similar protections. If you feel as if you’ve been discriminated against at work, here are a few ways to fight it.
Notify Your Employer
Many acts of discrimination in the workplace go unpunished and unrecognized because victims don’t act. Employers are reluctant to admit to these illegal acts, and while it’s their responsibility to comply with the law, it’s your job to stand against them.
Take Things Seriously
An employer may not act unless they see that the matter is being taken seriously. Request documentation of every harassment or discrimination report, ask that the allegations be investigated, and ensure that corrective actions are taken. Employers are legally required to give timely consideration to reports of workplace discrimination.
Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
If the employer refuses to look into a complaint, get in touch with the EEOC or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC oversees employers’ compliance with federal anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws. Getting the federal government involved in a case and having the EEOC contact an employer will likely force them to take the matter seriously.
Keep a Journal
In discrimination cases, proper documentation is essential. Keep written records of these incidents, including the date, location, time, involved parties, witnesses, and an explanation of the improper speech or conduct.
Retain Evidence of Discrimination
When building a workplace discrimination case, physical evidence helps. Keep pictures and objects that demonstrate others’ illegal behaviors. Having items that prove the case is easier than describing what these things look like and hoping that your side of the story will be heard.
Review the Company’s Policies
Most companies have anti-discrimination policies. The fact that employers put these rules in writing and promise not to behave in discriminatory ways may help build a stronger case. If you’ve been given a written copy of the policy, keep it.
Refer to State and Federal Law
Again, state and federal laws contain numerous protections for workers. These laws are readily available online and in certain libraries. Some of the most notable laws include those listed below.
- Title VII. Part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, this law prohibits workplace discrimination based on color, race, sex, religion, and nationality.
- ADEA. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act keeps companies from discriminating against those over 40.
- ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against those who are disabled and requires companies to make accommodations for these workers.
- FMLA. The Family Medical Leave Act requires companies to let workers take time off so they can address family and personal medical needs.
Discrimination laws vary by jurisdiction, and it’s important for workers to review these laws carefully. By working with an attorney, you’ll gain access to their legal knowledge and experience.
We Help Workers Protect Their Rights
Dealing with harassment and discrimination is a challenge no matter where it happens, but if discrimination occurs at work, it may feel unavoidable. If you’ve suffered because of others’ illegal actions, consider getting in touch with an employment attorney who can explain your options and protect your legal rights.