Discrimination at work can take many forms from denied opportunities to open harassment. Federal and state employment and labor laws including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) exist to protect employees from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, nation of origin, age, and disability.
If you are experiencing discrimination at work, there are several steps you can take to seek correction for the problem. Similarly, if you expect another employee is experiencing discrimination, it’s a good idea to keep a record of the offenses in the event of an inquiry.
If you suspect discrimination at work, the following steps may help protect you and build your case:
- Record the discriminatory conduct. In workplace discrimination disputes, it is extremely important to keep track of any dates and times when discrimination occurred. If the discrimination occurred in speech, writing down a quote of what was said as closely as possible to memory is a good idea. Similarly, any documentation such as emails, photos, job offer or denial letters, etc. that record the potential discrimination need to be kept in a safe and secure location. If these can only be accessed from a work computer, it’s a good idea to download them to a personal jump drive or send them to your personal email so there is no chance the evidence can go missing if it becomes necessary.
- Report the suspected discrimination to HR. Most companies have a Human Resources or “HR” department where complaints can be made. Complaints of discrimination are required to be taken seriously and should be investigated in a thorough and timely manner. In many instances, reporting the discrimination to HR is enough to correct the problem; however, when HR turns a blind eye or fails to take action, it may be necessary to involve an outside party, namely an EEOC representative or workplace discrimination attorney. If your company does not have an HR department, the discrimination can be reported directly to the employer.
- Record any potential retaliation. Just as documenting the actual discrimination is imperative, any attempts at retaliation by the employer, a co-worker, supervisor, etc. should be documented by whatever means available. Retaliation against an employee for reporting discrimination is prohibited, but it still occurs. However, an employee who has suffered from workplace retaliation may have legal options to help protect them and their career.
- Talk to a workplace discrimination attorney. Unfortunately, discrimination can be hard to prove. If your HR department is not proactive and supportive of employees coming forward with concerns of discrimination, it may be necessary to involve a workplace discrimination attorney to help seek some sort of remedy. In some cases, the employee in question may be eligible to file charges. Similarly, workplace discrimination attorneys know exactly what kind of retaliation a reporting employee may face, and can help install all the legal safeguards necessary to protect the employee and their job. If you want to report discrimination at work but suspect the retaliation will be swift and severe, you may want to consult with a workplace discrimination attorney to get some advice on the best way to bring it up and how to protect yourself.
To learn more about what to do if you suspect discrimination at work, or for help filing charges, reach out to a workplace discrimination attorney in your area.