6 Ways to Legally Confront Discrimination in the Workplace
Discrimination is the unfavorable treatment of a person because of his or her color, race, nationality, age, disability, gender or another protected class. Discrimination at work can create an unwelcoming or hostile work environment for the victim. If you believe you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace in Los Angeles, you have rights. You have the power to shed light on this problem at work and to push for real change on an institutional level. You may also be eligible for compensation if workplace discrimination inflicted financial losses on you or your family.
Focus on Prevention
Prevention is better than cure when it comes to workplace discrimination. The task of preventing discrimination typically rests with managers and employers. Managers can help prevent discrimination and harassment at work by instituting rules and protocols in the workplace, such as a system for how employees can safely and anonymously file complaints. Managers should also set a good example by not playing favorites, leaving personal beliefs at home, being conscious of what he or she says and responding promptly to discrimination complaints. All workplaces in California should have anti-discrimination policies and procedures for how to deal with issues.
One of the worst things an employer can do is ignore or dismiss discrimination complaints. An employer should take every complaint seriously, conducting a thorough investigation and reprimanding offenders, if necessary. Employers should respond quickly to complaints to show that the company will not tolerate discriminatory behaviors. Failing to take a discrimination allegation seriously could create an environment that feels unwelcoming or dangerous for certain people. This could lead to issues and lawsuits against the company. Employers should do their best to discourage discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Many situations involving discrimination at work involve perpetrators who do not realize they are being discriminatory. You may be able to confront discrimination as an employee simply by speaking up and spreading awareness about the issue. Although your employer should be in charge of educating employees about discrimination, you can also make a stand by speaking out when you hear or see something discriminatory. Sometimes simply talking to the person who is causing the problem could resolve the issue.
Tell Your Employer Immediately
If speaking with the offender does not help, go to your employer. Your manager cannot do anything about discrimination if he or she does not know it is happening. Your workplace should have a protocol for what to do if you experience discrimination from coworkers, customers or higher-ups. Tell your employer the situation right away. File an official complaint with your Human Resources department. Your company should review your claim and take action to remedy the issue. Create a record of whom you spoke with and when you filed your claim.
Report Your Employer to the EEOC
Take your case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if it is your employer doing the discriminating. Filing a charge with the EEOC may also be necessary if your employer does not do anything to resolve discrimination at work after you file a complaint. You have 180 days from the incident in question to file a discrimination charge, or 300 days if your city enforces a similar discrimination law (most in California do). The EEOC can investigate your charge and host mediation with your employer to help motivate real change.
File a Discrimination Lawsuit
If meetings between your employer and the EEOC still do not resolve the issue, you may need to file a lawsuit against your employer. A lawsuit may also be the right move if the discrimination or harassment at work caused you economic or noneconomic losses. If you lost your job because of discrimination, for example, a lawsuit could help you recover compensation and achieve job reinstatement. You have the right to lawfully bring a civil action against employers and/or other parties for discrimination as a wronged employee in California. Speak to an attorney for more information about your unique case.