The workforce environment has federally established regulations concerning the safety and benefits of employees, with agencies like OSHA and the Department of Labor paying close attention to company practices. There is a more subtle threat to the mental and emotional safety of employees, and it comes in the form of discrimination. For years, many people associated discrimination with the treatment of women in the workforce, but as the offices of Tully Rinckey have seen, discrimination is no longer limited to gender-specific instances.
What is Considered Discrimination?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) established the first definition of discrimination as it concerns employment. This initial law made it illegal to make a prejudiced distinction or give unjust treatment to an individual based on the categories of color, race, religion, sex, or national origin. This law also made it illegal for an employer to retaliate against any employee who reports or files a complaint or charges of discrimination, or who participates in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
The Tully Rinckey law office has seen many cases involving discrimination based on these initial categories, but they have also seen the expanse of the categories to include lesser recognized people groups and statuses. These include things like sexual orientation, age, disability status, genetic information, political affiliation and more. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) is the government agency tasked with protecting and investigating those with claims of discrimination or establishing and regulating a protected status. There are currently twelve established types of discrimination: age, disability, equal pay/compensation, genetic information, harassment, national origin, pregnancy, race/color, religion, retaliation, sex, and sexual harassment.
Applications for EEOC Involvement
Within the establishment of the law, the EEOC also sets forth areas in which it applies. The vast nature of the employment industry has led to a substantial list of activities, but it is not comprehensive. These are general categories where situations or incidents can be evaluated for an employer or agency showing preference or discrimination during job advertisements, recruitments, application processes, hiring, background checks, referrals, promotions, job assignments, pay and benefits, disciplines, references, training, harassment, dress code, resignations, and accommodations. If you feel that you have been discriminated against in one of these categories, here is what you need to know.
Ask the Right Questions
First of all, document and consider the category of discrimination. What occurred and what are the different types of claims that could be brought? What kind of evidence will you need to prove an incident of discrimination occurred? The way you answer these questions will give the direction on the first steps you need to take. Discrimination claims can be filed according to discriminatory intent or treatment, disparate impact, and retaliation. You can also either bring direct or circumstantial evidence to support your claim. Legal counsel can be a crucial factor in determining the value in your case, but there are a few questions that you can ask prior to consulting with a lawyer.
As an employee, determine if you are in a protected class. Are you over forty or have a disability? Do you have the right qualifications for your positions? Did your employer take adverse action against you? This could include areas of termination, promotions, compensation or conditions of employment. If you were terminated, were you replaced by someone who was not in a protected class? Perhaps they were younger, unqualified, or had no disability?
Determine Your Case
If these things seem to apply to your situation, you might have a valid cause to take to a lawyer. Collect your documentation and seek legal counsel for the best results with a discrimination complaint.