Experienced Discrimination at Work? What to Do
Discrimination in the workplace is a serious problem. Federal as well as state laws prohibit harassment and discrimination against coworkers, subordinates, and supervisors on the basis of race, color, nationality, sex, disability, and several other protected classifications or statuses. If you experience discrimination in the workplace, however, you may feel powerless to change your situation. Raising these types of issues at work can make you feel as though you are risking your job or fighting an insurmountable giant.
But if you are experiencing workplace discrimination, there are actually several steps you can take to assert your rights and ensure the harassment stops.
First, Your Employer
First, make your employer aware that you are experiencing the discrimination. Both in order to pursue legal action and to try to get your employer on your side, you need to make it as clear as possible that the discriminatory conduct you’re experiencing is unwelcome and you want it to stop. More than simply orally expressing this, you should also indicate to your employer that you take the conduct seriously. Insist on documentation of your reports of the harassment or discrimination and request an investigation for disciplinary action, and of course, keep documentation yourself.
Second, the EEOC
Ideally, workplace discrimination could end with this step. Certainly, some responsible employers are capable of investigating and ending incidences of harassment that are reported to them. However, if necessary, your next step may be to contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) directly. This agency is responsible for ensuring that employers comply with law requiring them to properly investigate and resolve discrimination in the workplace. Involving the EEOC may also help protect you from possible retaliation, and will likely signal to your employer that they should address your concerns quickly and efficiently, lest they face federal scrutiny.
To file a charge of discrimination in the workplace with the EEOC, you may contact the EEOC field office closest to you. Depending on your state, you may have 300 or only 180 days to file your sworn charge , so it is important that you evaluate your options and contact the Commission as soon as possible to avoid missing any deadlines. The EEOC accepts filings by mail or, in some field offices, in person. You can also begin the process of filing your charge by phone (though you will still need to submit documentation by mail or in person after your call). Be sure to indicate the charge is also being “dual filed” with any state agency, if applicable, to ensure your administrative remedies are exhausted. While our firm does prefer to be involved in the charge filing process with the EEOC and any state agency, an lawyer is not required.
Third, an Lawyer
If you are facing workplace discrimination, taking the previous two steps is a great start. But an even more important consideration is finding adequate representation. Working through a workplace discrimination claim can be a long process, and navigating harassment issues with your employer can be difficult and trying. With issues like job transition, assuring equal compensation, and avoiding retaliation moves like demotion or dismissal, it helps to have an experienced and skilled lawyer at the helm. At Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian, Lawyers and Counselors at Law, we represent victims of workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation zealously to ensure that our clients are afforded equal employment opportunities in the workplace. If you believe you may be experiencing workplace discrimination, harassment or retaliation call toll-free at 1 (800) 227-2275 to contact one of our Tampa lawyers.