Click. Scroll, scroll, scroll… Eye roll. You’ve just reached the bottom of the latest inappropriate email chain from your blathering boss, cringing as you come across an array of racist, sexist, and downright disgusting remarks in what he surely finds to be the funniest collection of jokes of all time. This guy would put Dunder Mifflin’s Michael Scott to shame.
Despite your boss’ disgusting sense of humor, this is the definition of workplace discrimination. Women and people of color – or honestly, everyone – are probably made just as uncomfortable by these completely unprofessional actions. When employees feel bias against them, there are rules and laws in place to ensure that they’re able to report it safely without fear of retaliation or further discrimination.
What Is Workplace Discrimination?
Workplace discrimination can take many forms. From severe accounts of sexual harassment to seemingly harmless teasing, there is a range of inappropriate actions that can take place in the workplace. Some employees are even intimidated, retaliated, or discriminated against for reporting workplace injuries and seeking workers’ compensation.
These actions, behaviors, or comments can lead to feeling disrespected and discriminated against in the workplace. State and federal laws protect many types of discrimination typically seen in offices or other workplaces.
Common Types of Workplace Discrimination
Both federal and state legislation protects workers’ rights surrounding acts of discrimination. Although preventative measures are put in place to discourage workplace discrimination, it is still a prevalent issue within a wide range of industries. The most common types of discrimination used to target or harass workers include:
- Skin color
- Genetic information
- Sexual harassment
In some states, workers are protected against discrimination due to their sexuality, gender, or marital status, but not all. It is highly illegal for companies to discipline, punish, or terminate a worker who reports harassment or discrimination. If you’re facing discrimination from a coworker or superior, find the proper channel to complain. You must advocate for yourself, as you deserve a sense of safety and security in your workplace.
What to Do When You’re Facing Workplace Discrimination
If you feel that you are facing discrimination in the workplace, take the necessary steps to make a legitimate complaint. Understand your rights as an employee in the event that this issue requires further investigation from an external agency. Here are seven essential steps to follow if you feel you’re being discriminated against in the workplace:
1. Calm Down, Don’t Quit
Reporting discrimination can seem like an incredibly daunting task. You might be tempted to decide between disclosing the issue to superiors and terminating your employment altogether. Even if your emotions are high, try to calm yourself down before making an irrational decision to quit an otherwise excellent job. Once you’ve straightened your thoughts out, you can start collecting information to report the discrimination you’re experiencing.
2. Keep Copies of All Written Complaints
Workplace discrimination is rarely a one-time event. Many people who purport discriminatory opines are accustomed to their bad behavior and continually perpetuate it around the office or workspace. If this is the case, you’ve probably already put out some written complaints to HR or other supervisors.
Keep a copy of every written complaint you ever submitted. Ensure you’re using truthful, concise, and consistent language throughout your statements. This way, you have well-documented instances of discrimination to back up your current claims as a continuing issue.
3. Document Discrimination and Compile Evidence
If you aren’t comfortable coming forward yet, take care to compile more documentation of the discrimination you’re experiencing. Find out if your state requires two-party consent to record conversations. Take pictures, videos, screen-shots, and save any information either digitally or physically indicating abuse. Once you have compiled all the necessary documentation, you can work with a trusted coworker to craft a convincing claim of discrimination.
4. Communicate Confidentially With Trusted Coworkers
Sometimes supervisors can let their workers down or suppress them; if this has happened to you while lodging prior complaints, considering confiding in a trusted coworker about your issue. There is strength in numbers. Bring your confidant/coworker to help you assert your statement of discrimination to superiors.
5. Meet With Human Resources or Another Internal Authority Figure
Once you feel you’ve collected enough evidence to back up your workplace discrimination claims, reach out to an internal authority figure or the human resources department to schedule a meeting. Be calm, clear, and rational in explaining your concerns.
Many companies actively try to avoid internal issues like discrimination because they pose a significant threat to the brand’s image. Your company especially wants to avoid shelling out money for an employee’s pain and suffering workers’ compensation claim.
Most likely, your supervisors will work swiftly to ensure the discrimination stops. However, there are instances where disclosing bias leads to further problems like intimidation and retaliation. When this occurs, it’s time to contact an attorney to help you understand your legal options.
6. Contact a Workplace Discrimination Attorney
Workplace discrimination attorneys can aid you in your situation in a variety of ways. First, find an attorney specializing in the issue at hand. Many firms attempt to wear every hat so that they can take on the highest level of cases. However, when you work with a specialized discrimination attorney, they have the experience needed to handle your specific situation.
Disclose contract, communication efforts, and other complaints filed with your company to the attorney, so they have a full understanding of the claim. If your company is not taking your statements seriously, consider lodging an external complaint with a higher authority. Collaborate with your attorney to gather all evidence necessary to take steps in making an external complaint.
7. Make an External Complaint if Necessary
When you’ve reached the point where you must contact a workplace discrimination lawyer, you’re probably on the road to making an external complaint. External complaints occur when a company chooses not to take action when discrimination is reported. Typically, this is an employee’s last resort after a company dismisses discrimination claims.
These serious situations are precisely why the United States and its individual states implement workplace discrimination legislation. Work with an experienced attorney to understand your rights and begin crafting an effective campaign against your company.
Working With a Workplace Discrimination Attorney
Employers are not allowed to retaliate or intimidate workers in any way for reporting abuse, discrimination, or workplace injuries. There are laws to protect employees in these circumstances, so if you find that you’re currently in this situation, consider calling in a professional. For adequate representation, contact a workplace discrimination attorney to help your case.
The attorney or firm you choose should have immense experience in the workplace discrimination field. Opt for a specialized law firm, so you know you’re getting the best representation possible for your workplace discrimination case.