It’s an unfortunate truth that workplace discrimination is everywhere – in fact, experts say that it may be even more prevalent than we realize, as many people are still reluctant to come forward. In spite of workplace improvements made after the #MeToo movement and other demands for change, there may come a time when you need to report discrimination on the job.
At Habbas & Associates, we understand the tremendous courage and persistence that it takes to pursue a claim for a hostile work environment. You may be worried about facing retaliation from your employer, or additional hostilities as you attempt to continue working. As your legal representation, we’ll stand by your side and help you fight back against this kind of unprofessional behavior in the workplace.
In this post, we’ll discuss how you can get started with fighting workplace discrimination – and how to pursue a claim when you’ve been unjustly terminated or threatened by your employer.
The Truth About On-the-Job Discrimination
Although we tend to think of discrimination as a thing of the past, many forms of discrimination have either stayed steady over the years or even increased, as employers continue to tolerate this behavior. According to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in California, there were 9% more age discrimination claims filed in 2017 than in 2016 – a significant jump that has also been reflected in other states across the country. As of 2017, a Pew Research poll also found that over 42% of working American women have still faced on-the-job discrimination because of their gender, and are three times more likely than men to have experienced sexual harassment.
The national Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) notes that in California in 2016, more than 5,870 charges were filed for all forms of discrimination across the board. While most experts believe those numbers – and the number of national charges filed – are low compared to actual discrimination rates, it’s important to recognize just how many people do come forward to report inappropriate behavior each year.
Fighting Back Against Unfair Treatment
Of course, it isn’t easy to file a claim with the EEOC, not least of all because employers frequently retaliate against those who are perceived as “troublemakers,” or who present an imagined threat to the company’s reputation. In fact, of the 4,344 EEOC charges filed in California in 2016, employer retaliation actually tops the list, at over 2,937 claims.
So how can you fight back against discrimination when you’re worried about the threat of employer retaliation? By arming yourself with the facts, and taking swift legal action to hold your employer and harassers accountable for retaliation, you may be able to continue forward with your career with peace of mind for your future.
Here are some of the things you should know when fighting back against discrimination:
- Know your rights. Both retaliation and discrimination are illegal activities under the law, whether they come from an individual coworker or your employer as a whole. If you do decide to bring a discrimination claim with the EEOC or another agency, that activity is protected. If an HR professional, boss, or other person in authority tries to claim that you are not allowed to file, you can inform them that it is your right.
- Document everything you hear or read. Whether it comes in the form of active harassment, private reprimands, or offensive comments during meetings, you will need evidence to prove your discrimination claim. Screenshot any relevant messages online and save them in a secure place, and make sure to write down any conversations with dates and times.
- Take pictures if relevant. In some severe cases, the abuse and harassment may invade your physical and personal boundaries, or come in the form of cruel pranks and even hate speech. When relevant, take pictures of these incidents to help document the hostile work environment.
- Write down a clear timeline of the abuses. From the minute you suspect discrimination is at play, start to create a written timeline of the abuses you’ve experienced. This will help you to keep all your facts straight, and provide your attorney or the EEOC with a better understanding of what has happened.
- Pay attention to how other employees are treated. Sometimes, discrimination can be subtle. If you notice that members of other groups are not reprimanded for the same offenses as you, however, that can often be a clear indicator of discrimination.
- Talk to people you can trust. Whether you’ve filed with the EEOC or have just considered taking action, it’s important to gather witnesses and people you can trust to vouch for the discriminatory behavior. Be careful about how you approach this, however, as it’s possible that your employers may try to retaliate against those who testify.
- If fired, discuss your severance package with an attorney. Severance packages often contain waivers that release the company from liability in the event of a lawsuit. While these waivers can’t protect them from every form of illegal activity, it’s important to review your package with a skilled employment lawyer before signing on the line.
Steadfast Support for Your Claim
It can be difficult to gather enough evidence for your discrimination claim when you’re also worried about retaliation and other negative side effects. For counsel you can trust, turn to Habbas & Associates. For more than 200 years, we’ve been helping individuals through some of the most difficult times in their lives, and we’re committed to standing up for your right to a fair workplace.
To start your discrimination claim, just contact our attorneys today at (888) 387-4053.