Defending Your Right to a Workplace Free from Discrimination
An experienced workplace discrimination lawyer in Atlanta knows that federal laws — and sometimes state laws — make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of protected characteristics, such as race, religion, gender, age, disability, pregnancy, and national origin, for example. Whether a company is a small, family-owned business or a large, international corporation, the same rules apply. At Barrett & Farahany, we have been advocating for victims of workplace discrimination for more than 20 years, and we know how stressful these situations can be for both employees and their families.
What Is Employment Discrimination?
Discrimination at work, whether by a co-worker or your employer, can take many forms. There are some situations where the harassment is more outright and others that may be veiled. Many laws surrounding a person's rights and barring people from being discriminated against stem from the civil rights movement in the sixties.
- Related: A Look at EEOC-Enforced Laws: 9 Prohibited Practices for Employers (Pt. 1)
- A Look at EEOC-Enforced Laws: 9 Prohibited Practices for Employers (Pt. 2)
- A Look at EEOC-Enforced Laws: 9 Prohibited Practices for Employers (Pt. 3)
There are a number of ways that discrimination can transpire in the workplace, including:
- Firing someone
- Not allowing the proper training
- Unnecessarily disciplining them
- Not giving someone a promotion they may be qualified for
- Unequal or less pay
Types of Discrimination
The types of discrimination that are prohibited by federal law are:
- Age: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of their age. The victim must be 40 years of age or older.
- Disability: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because they have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Rehabilitation Act.
- Equal Pay/Compensation: When an employee or job applicant is paid less in wages, overtime pay, bonuses, vacation and holiday pay, or other benefits because of their gender. The law states that men and women must receive equal pay for equal work.
- Genetic Information: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of genetic information.
- Illegal Harassment: When an employee or job applicant is a target of unwelcome conduct that is based on a protected characteristic (race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy), and this conduct creates a hostile work environment or becomes a condition of the victim's continued employment.
- National Origin: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because they are (or appear to be) from a different country or different ethnicity.
- Pregnancy: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a pregnancy or childbirth-related medical condition.
- Race/Color: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because they are of a different race or have a different color of skin.
- Religion: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of their religious beliefs.
- Retaliation: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because they complained about illegal treatment or filed a lawsuit about illegal treatment.
- Sex or Gender: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of their sex.
- Sexual Harassment: When an employee or job applicant is a target of unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other physical or verbal sexually harassing behaviors.
Filing a Complaint with Your Organization
If you have experienced discrimination or harassment in the workplace, your first step should always be to report it to your employer or HR department as soon as possible, in writing.
There are a number of reasons to take this vital step:
- Give your employer the opportunity to resolve the problem. They should always take an employee complaint seriously and cannot legally retaliate against you because you complained about a protected issue.
- You create open communication around the problem
- You have a clear line of communication and evidence via documentation that you reported the incident. This will help prove your discrimination case should legal action be necessary.
Anti-retaliation provisions in discrimination laws make it illegal for an employer to demote you or fire you for filing a complaint. Retaliation from your employer in response to your complaint should be discussed with an exceptionally experienced discrimination lawyer.
Unfortunately, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions (EEOC) does not find discrimination in more than 95 percent of the claims that it investigates. Consult with an attorney before you decide to abandon your claims because of what the EEOC has told you.
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