How to deal with discrimination at work
While we don’t like to think about it or want to pretend like it doesn’t happen where we work, discrimination in the workplace can be commonplace. While it is easy to be discriminated against at work, it is just as easy to fight back against those responsible. In some cases, you may be entitled to compensation for the illegal activity you were subjected to.
What is Discrimination at Work?
How do you know if you are being discriminated against at work? First, you need to make sure that you are a protected class in the workplace and that your employer is a covered employer under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As an employee, you may be protected against discrimination based on your race, gender, religion or disability. Discrimination is anything that may create a hostile workplace such as crude jokes made about you, sexual advances being made toward you or any decision made about your employment based on anything other than prior work performance.
How to Report Discrimination at Work
The first step toward stopping workplace discrimination is to report it to someone whom your trust in the company. This does not have to be your immediate supervisor. It merely needs to be someone you trust to investigate the claim in a fair and unbiased manner. This could mean that you talk to an HR representative, another employee within the company or a supervisor in another department. If there is no one in the company that you can trust, it may be a good idea to contact an attorney and check with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to inquire about legal action.
How Work Discrimination Laws Apply to Your Case
A work discrimination lawsuit is generally the last resort in such a case. First, you must show that you reported the incident and that nothing was done to remedy the problem. Alternatively, you could show that reporting the incident would have led to nothing being done to resolve the issue. Normally, you will contact the EEOC to ask that they investigate your claim for you.
They will generally try to resolve the issue through negotiation and other informal settlement options. If it looks like such negotiations won’t result in a resolution, you may be given the approval to file a lawsuit. Depending on where the discrimination took place and whether state or federal laws were broken, your case will be assigned to a state or federal judge.
At any point before going to trial, you may settle the case with your employer. As part of a settlement, you may get your job back and get full benefits as if you never were terminated in the first place. Your attorney may help you with negotiations to ensure that you get a favorable resolution to your case.
How to Deal With Discrimination at Work
Being discriminated at work can be a mentally challenging experience. This is especially true if the person committing the illegal activity is your boss or another supervisor within the company. During the investigation, your boss and others may try to label you as difficult or say that you were to blame for what happened.
You should also know that you may be forced to work with or close to the person who was acting in an illegal manner during the investigation. Therefore, you need to simply come to work, do your job and then go home at the end of the day.
If you listen to the workplace gossip or try to read too much into what happens after your claim is submitted, you will go crazy. The most important thing though is that you spoke up. That is a victory in itself, and even if you are fired, leaving a company that would mistreat you isn’t the end of the world.
Being the victim of discrimination is not something that you want to go through. However, if you are a victim, know your rights and take action. Allowing your employer to treat you like something less than a person may embolden those committing the acts to keep on mistreating people. Therefore, by speaking out, you are helping others in the future as well as yourself today.
Patrick Watt was a legal officer with an MBA degree and years of experience with various companies. He is now a full-time writer in law and business dispute niche. He writes for Carter Capner Law, a progressive, innovative and strongly motivated law firm based in Queensland, Australia.
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