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Employment Discrimination

Osterhout Berger Daley Law > Employment Discrimination

As an employee, you have rights.  Employers are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and employees in hiring, promotion, pay, discipline, and termination on the basis of the protected classes of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Gender
  • Pregnancy
  • Age (if you are at least 40 years old)
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Disability
  • And multiple other classes

These classes are protected under federal law, and state and local laws may offer greater protections for other classes of individuals.  Employees have the right to work in a safe environment free from discrimination.  Employees also have the right to report discriminatory practices and should not feel threatened, harassed, or as they are putting their job in jeopardy by reporting such actions.  Retaliation for reporting discrimination in the workplace is prohibited.

  • If you have been discriminated against by your employer for any of the above reasons, you may be entitled compensation. Back pay and front pay for wages lost due to the nature of discrimination
  • Compensatory Damages, including but not limited emotional distress as a result of the discrimination
  • Punitive Damages in the event the employer was particularly reckless or malicious
  • Attorney Fees in some circumstances
  • And in some cases, reinstated of your occupation.

In many cases you have a finite amount of time in which to file a charge of discrimination with either the EEOC or your local state agency.  Contact us immediately if you need assistance.

Race, Color, or National Origin Discrimination

Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans employers from discriminating against employee or job applicants based race, color, or national origin.  The Act further prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions regarding race, color, or national origin.  There are four main forms of discrimination based on race:

  1. Direct Discrimination
  2. Harassment
  3. Indirect Discrimination
  4. Retaliation

Racial discrimination in the work place involves treating an applicant or employee unfavorably because of his or her race or personal characteristics associated with race.  Color discrimination involves treating an individual unfavorably because of skin color complexion.  Race or color discrimination can also involve treating an individual unfavorably because they are married to a person of a certain race of color.

It is illegal for an employer to discriminate in any aspect of employment: hiring, pay, promotions, job assignments, termination, benefits, or any other term or condition of employment.

Harassment based on race or color can take many forms including but not limited to racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s race or color, or display of racially-offensive symbols. Harassment is illegal when it creates a hostile work environment, offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision due to the frequency and severity of the harassment.

If you have been discriminated against in your place of employment based upon your race, color, or national origin, be sure to keep a detailed record of all surrounding events, obtain a copy and review your Employer’s policy for reporting such events, and contact us to make sure your rights are protected.

Disability Discrimination

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against employees with disabilities, and many states and localities have their own laws making disability discrimination unlawful in addition to the federal protections.

Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the employer. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment  to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. Reasonable accommodation might include, for example, making the workplace accessible for wheelchair users or providing a reader or interpreter for someone who is blind or hearing impaired.

An employee must show a physical and mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.  The employee can then request an accommodation such as making physical facilities accessible, modifying a work scheduled, restructuring a job, reassignment, working from home or allowing leave of absence.

Requesting a reasonable accommodation can be made at any time during the hiring process, including at application, and during employment.  If you need assistance requesting an accommodation from your employer, please contact us immediately to assist you in the process.

There are multiple forms of ADA violations, including failing to hire someone simply because of a disability when they are able to perform a job with reasonable accommodation, failure to make reasonable accommodations, job discrimination in terms of advancement in careers, or retaliation or wrongful discharge.

If you have been discriminated against because of your disability, please contact us as soon as possible so we may ensure your rights are protected.

Sex and Gender Discrimination

Tile VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits an employer from treating you differently, or less favorably, because of your sex, including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity.  Employers are also prohibited from making employment decisions based upon stereotypes about abilities and traits associated with gender.

The Equal Pay Act requires employers to give male and female employees equal pay for equal work.

Sexual harassment is prohibited in the workplace, which includes conduct that is sexual in nature.  This includes sexual jokes, photos, or touching, or requests for sexual favors, and non-sexual conduct that is based on gender.  Harassment based on sexual orientation, pregnancy, and gender identity is also prohibited.

An employee is protected from being harassed by coworkers, supervisors, and other in the workplace, such as a client or customer.  An employee is also protected from any sort of retaliation from the Employer if you or someone close to you complains about sex discrimination or takes actions protected by the law.

Pregnancy discrimination may occur in multiple situations, including being well qualified and a company refusing to hire you until after the birth of your child, being fired or demoted upon pregnancy becoming known even though you remain capable of performing your job, refusal of an employer to give you the same or similar position upon returning from pregnancy-related leave, and being treated different than other temporarily disabled employees.

Additionally, approximately 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 16 of those states also have laws against discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.  While other states do not have laws protecting an LGBTQIA+ employee, federal protections against discrimination on the basis of sex can be used to defend LGBTQIA+ individuals  who are discriminated against on their sexual or perceived sexual identity.

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