Though society has moved in a positive direction when it comes to discrimination, discrimination lawyers are essential. No act of discrimination is acceptable, but discriminatory activity continues to be commonplace for Americans at work. The law makes this clear. Discrimination is expressly forbidden by law, regardless of the state in which you reside.
Discrimination doesn’t have to be obvious, or aggressive. It can be subtle and insidious. It’s often difficult to identify discrimination until multiple occurrences of discriminatory activity have taken place.
If you believe that you’ve been discriminated against, you may have a right to sue and recover damages under the law. Speak to an experienced discrimination lawyer before you do anything on your own.
Discrimination lawyers specialize in exercising the rights provided to you under anti-discrimination laws such as the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and more. Here at 1-800-THE-LAW2, we can connect you to one of the discrimination lawyers in our network for a confidential, free consultation today.
What Qualifies As Discrimination?
In the legal context, discrimination is unfavorable treatment due to your “protected class” status.
Protected categories include:
- Gender or gender identity
- Sexual preference
- Disability status
- Veteran status
- And more
Let’s explore two quick examples.
Suppose that your employer is a highly-religious Christian, and terminates your employment after finding out that you are non-practicing (i.e., you don’t attend church). This is illegal discrimination, as it discriminates against you on the basis of your religion. You could sue for damages.
Suppose that your employer is a New York Yankees fan, and you are a Boston Red Sox fan. Your employer despises the fact that you support their team’s historical rival, and as a result, they terminate your employment. Though firing an employee for their sports fandom is a rather immature decision, it is not illegal — it is not a protected category under the law.
Retaliation — How Employers React To Your Complaints
Discrimination is often followed by retaliation when the employee is unwilling to accept the problematic behavior of their employer.
For example, an employer may choose to “punish” an employee for reporting discrimination to a state agency on employment equality. Fortunately, this sort of retaliatory behavior is illegal under the law.
Employer retaliatory conduct can vary quite a bit from case-to-case. Whereas one employer might do something as “obvious” as terminating your employment, another employer may do something more subtle and insidious, such as creating a hostile workplace environment for you, or denying you a reasonable employment-related request.
How Much Is Your Claim Worth?
Understandably, those who have suffered discrimination are curious about the potential value of their claim. After all, they may want to know whether it’s “worth it” to pursue the claim and go through the trouble of a possible high-conflict situation.
The truth is that there is no simple answer as to how much a claim is worth. The value of your discrimination claim will vary depending on the unique circumstances surrounding the employer’s discriminatory behavior (and the income that you lost as a result of the discrimination).
Let’s explore a brief example for clarity.
Suppose that you are discriminated against in the workplace due to your age. The company is attempting to push you out, and after a bogus justification, they fire you. After the firing, you are unable to secure work for another six months. With an annual salary of $100,000, you would be entitled to $50,000 in damages at minimum — there would likely also be additional damages due to emotional distress, reputational damage, and other issues.
Discrimination In The Workplace
Discrimination often occurs in the workplace, which can have significant ramifications for an employee’s ability to earn — and to grow their career over time. Fortunately, the law does attempt to shield employees from discriminatory activity in the workplace.
As an employee, you are protected not only by federal anti-discrimination laws, but also by state discrimination laws (which may provide additional, stricter protections than the federal baseline). Anti-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination in all aspects of employment, including:
- Hiring and firing
- Salary and benefits
- Fringe benefits
- Retirement plans
- Promotions, layoffs, transfers
- Placing job advertisements
- Recruiting new employees
- Training programs
- Disability leave
- Improper disclosure of information
- Unfair treatment
- And more
For example, suppose that you are denied a bonus, which you feel is unfair given your sales metrics. You investigate the issue further and discover that your employer denied the bonus on the basis of your gender. You would have an actionable discrimination claim, for which you could sue to recover damages.
Hiring An Attorney For A Discrimination Lawsuit
Regardless of the state jurisdiction, a discrimination claim must be filed with a local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before your discrimination attorney can file a private lawsuit. This claim must be filed within 180 days of the occurrence to protect the rights guaranteed you by law. If you do not file within this deadline period, then your claim may be dismissed by a court (should you pursue it further).
Given the procedural complexities — and the consequences of delay — it’s critical to consult an attorney as soon as possible after discrimination has occurred. There are many other benefits to consulting an attorney early, too:
The earlier you get started, the more you’ll remember the details;
Starting early gives discrimination lawyers enough time to thoroughly examine the case, gather enough evidence and present a persuasive argument; and It enables the attorney to negotiate an early settlement in a case before the employer has time to develop a more cohesive defensive strategy.
If you believe that you’ve been made a victim of discrimination in the workplace, it’s important to talk to a lawyer right away. Experienced discrimination and wage and hour attorneys understand how to apply the law and will work with a variety of experts to develop your case.