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Should I File a Discrimination Complaint with my Employer?

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Jan 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

Do you have an illegal discrimination complaint against your place of employment? Are you considering whether or not you should file your discrimination complaint? Are you worried that it might not be worth the risk? You may feel wronged but may be afraid to file a discrimination complaint for fear of repercussions in the workplace or to your career..

You may have been denied a promotion because of your age. You may be regularly harassed due to your religious choices. You might have been fired because of your race. You may have been denied a reasonable accommodation for a disability. Or, it's possible that you weren't the victim of discrimination but witnessed discriminatory behavior against others.  Maybe you're considering speaking up for someone who is filing a sexual harassment suit. Regardless of the specifics, it's normal to worry about the risk. In fact, most employees, even those who feel strongly that they were wronged, are reluctant to file discrimination complaints.

If you find yourself hesitating to file a complaint about illegal discrimination for fear of negative repercussions in the workplace, remember that illegal workplace retaliation is a high priority for regulatory agencies tasked with protecting employee rights and the integrity of the process. In fact, if a company retaliates against an employee for filing an illegal discrimination complaint, the company can be liable for retaliation even if the underlying discrimination claim is unsuccessful. This protection is in place to decrease the risk employees face when standing up for their rights or the rights of their co-workers. Without the protections against illegal retaliation, the entire process would be vulnerable to intimidation and fear tactics.

Employers often feel that a worker who successfully filed an illegal discrimination complaint and then stayed at the company is then unfairly shielded from normal disciplinary actions and job review processes. Managers can sometimes overcorrect in this situation – they may be hesitant to apply the rules to someone who may claim illegal retaliation. But the point of the protection for those who complain is to provide fair treatment, not special treatment. In fact, overcorrection and avoiding fair disciplinary action for an employee in fear of a retaliation claim could result in additional discrimination claims from the other employees.

Employees who have made protected complaints should be careful not to change their behavior on the premise that they can get away with more under the protection of the complaint. (For instance, after filing a successful discrimination suit, an employee may be tempted to take longer lunches assuming their employer will be afraid to discipline them because of the risk of a retaliation suit). Companies should carefully implement acceptable policy-based job reviews and performance evaluations. Any behavioral issues should be addressed on equal footing with other employees at the company. Both sides will be closely monitoring behavior and actions and will probably be documenting as a precaution.

If you are having difficulty dealing with the aftermath of filing a discrimination complaint at your place of employment, please get in touch with one of the experienced Atlanta employment law attorneys at Barrett & Farahany so we can help. We do things differently; justice at work is not only our profession, it's our passion.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany and manages the firm's case evaluation team. Because knowledge truly is power, Kathy and the Atlanta employment attorneys on her team regularly consult with and empower potentia...

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When you reach out to us, you will receive a complimentary consultation with one of our skilled Atlanta employment attorneys. During our initial consultation with you, we can help you to better understand your rights and will work with you to determine what course of action is in your best interest. We take great pride in providing assistance based on years of experience negotiating and litigating employment matters to protect employee interests. If you find yourself in need of dedicated legal representation, we are prepared to advocate on your behalf – our goal is always to protect employee victims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

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