What is a Workplace Discrimination Claim?
A workplace discrimination claim is a lawsuit pursued by an employee against their employer or boss for denying pay, promotion, benefits or opportunities because of discrimination. The discrimination could be based on race, religion, gender, age, orientation, or another legally protected trait.
By issuing a workplace discrimination claim, the employee hopes to gain equal footing in the workplace and recover any lost wages or benefits that were withheld due to the discrimination. If an employer or boss is found guilty of workplace discrimination, they are liable for not only paying the compensation the employee is due, but also must pay fines and fees as well as offer employment opportunities in some cases.
How Our National Network of Employment Attorneys Can Help You
No matter where you live and work, the federal government has enacted laws that protect all workers from workplace discrimination. Some states go over and above the federal laws, but nuances could vary from state to state.
If you believe you are a victim of workplace discrimination, we can help you locate the right employment law attorney in your area who has expertise in your specific kind of case. We have been serving clients of our employment law firm for over a decade and have built a vast network of skilled, reputable firms who share our commitment to personal attention and legal justice. We recognize the most skilled and experienced employment attorneys and employment law firms by including them in our National Network.
We realize that our firm may not be able to represent you due to location or other factors, but we can help you find the firm or lawyer who can. Employment discrimination claims can be tricky to prove, so you want the best legal team to represent you. We welcome the opportunity to find that right match for your needs.
Types of Discrimination Protected by Law
While any type of discrimination is bad, only those that are clearly defined and prohibited by law are subject to a workplace discrimination lawsuit. The federal government currently protects twelve different categories of illegal workplace discrimination. No employer, boss, or co-worker may treat an employee unfavorably due to any of these traits.
The federal law protects older workers from being discriminated against in favor of younger workers. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects people age 40 and over for receiving less favorable treatment than younger employees. This includes protections in all aspects of employment, including pay, promotions, assignments, hiring, firing, layoffs, benefits and training.
While the federal law does not offer the same protections for young employees being treated less favorably than older employees, some states do cover all age groups against age discrimination. Younger employees may have a harder time proving age discrimination, however, because employers can claim that experience, not age, was the preferred characteristic.
Age discrimination claims do not recognize the age of the employer or person charged as a factor. Even if both the victim and the perpetrator are both over 40, there still could be a valid age discrimination claim.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, as the ADA was once known, was enacted to protect workers against unfair treatment due to a disability. As long as the employee can still perform the work required to function in the job with or without reasonable accommodation, they are protected by this Act. What that means is that employers are required to make a certain amount of accommodations for employees with disabilities such as handicapped accessible stalls, ramps and cubicles, or abbreviated schedules to allow for treatment.
This Act not only protects those with permanent disabilities, but also protects individuals receiving care for illnesses like cancer, for example. A cancer patient may not be discriminated against for missed work due to receiving treatments or for any of the side effects of those treatments.
The Equal Pay Act specifically prevents any differences in pay for equal work by men or women. Even if the job itself is not identical, if the work is equal, the pay must be equal. Pay under this act includes all forms of compensation, including salary, bonuses, stocks, profit shares, overtime, insurance, work-related costs or allowances, and reimbursements.
This Act is unique in that an individual with a claim may go directly to court without having to file a charge first. Workers must ensure that they go to court within two years of the alleged practice of unequal pay.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act specifies that no employee may be discriminated against for their own or any family member’s genetic details. This legislation was put in place to protect employees from being discriminated against in cases where their family members may have had pre-existing conditions or history of medical maladies which could cost companies money in terms of benefits.
No employer may look into a candidate’s medical history in an attempt to determine if there are genetic markers that show they or someone in their family could become ill. Protection for employees covers all aspects of hiring, firing and compensation.
While there are different kinds of lawsuits that exist specifically for harassment, it is also considered part of the nondiscrimination category. Typically, harassment is more than single events of teasing or intimidation or other unwelcome conduct. In this discrimination category, harassment is defined by a repeated pattern of offensive conduct based on race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, national origin.
When a pattern can be established to show either repeated abuse that causes a charged or hostile work environment, or if putting up with the harassment is a condition of continued employment, then a case for harassment discrimination can be filed.
Any person who witnesses and is affected by the offensive conduct can file the suit as a victim of the harassment. For example, if a coworker is harassed for their race and you are offended, even if you are not of the same race, you can file a harassment claim. The abuser could be a co-worker, your boss, a customer, or someone from a separate department.
National Origin is simply where in the world an employee or employee’s ancestors originated. Following history, varying groups have been discriminated against solely based on their country of origin. For many years Irish and Italian immigrants were denied jobs. During WWII, there are documented cases where German and Japanese individuals were discriminated against for their nationality. Currently, Mexican, Pakistani, Iraqi and Iranian immigrants face an uphill battle against national origin discrimination.
No matter what a person’s nationality or national background, the law prevents discrimination and harassment in the workplace. All compensation must be equally offered to everyone, regardless of national origin. Promotions, benefits, time off and all other job opportunities must also be equal among members of every national origin.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is much like other types of discrimination cases, except that it was enacted specifically to prevent unfavorable treatment toward women based on pregnancy. No promotions may be withheld and all measures of compensation must be equal due to a woman’s pregnancy.
Employers are also required to make minor accommodations to alleviate strain for pregnant women, such as restricting heavy lifting or offering alternative assignments.
Possibly the most common type of employment discrimination case is race discrimination. Treating someone unfavorably based on race, skin color or other personal characteristics related to race is illegal.
No employer may limit job opportunities or hire, fire, promote or pay differently due to race or color. Likewise, no employee should have to endure any type of racial slurs, derogatory remarks, racially-offensive symbols, or other forms of harassment in the workplace.
Discrimination based on religion is unlawful and perpetrators of religious discrimination are subject to lawsuit. The law forbids any unfavorable treatment in the workplace toward individuals based on their religious beliefs. All types of religious beliefs that are sincerely held are covered under law. This includes Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and other lesser-known religions.
No job, promotion or payment may be withheld due to religious beliefs, and all measures of compensation must be equal among employees of all religions.
When a person complains or files a claim of discrimination for any of these protected traits, they must feel safe enough to do so without fear of recrimination. If an employer then retaliates by demoting, restricting scheduling, limiting opportunities, or even firing someone who filed a discrimination claim, they could themselves be subject to a discrimination lawsuit.
Each one of these statutes under federal law protects against retaliation for reporting the acts as well as against the discriminatory acts themselves.
While the Equal Pay Act protects men and women from unequal compensation, this category includes all kinds of discriminatory practices in the workplace for men, women and those with gender identity or sexual orientation differences.
Gender identity, sexual orientation, or transgender status are included in sex-based discrimination under Title VII, and are protected against unfavorable behavior in the workplace. All pay, vacation, benefits and other perks must be equally offered to all, without regard to sex.
Sexual harassment is the repeated practice of unwanted sexual advances, verbal sex-based abuse, requests for sexual favors, or any kind of physical sexual harassment. Even broad-scope commentary about one specific gender are prohibited in the workplace.
The victim of sexual harassment cases can be either man, woman, or transgender. As long as a repeated pattern can be proven or if the commentary led to a sexually-charged or hostile work environment, there is a case for sexual harassment.
Finding the Right Employment Discrimination Attorney
Because of the confusing details of each category of discrimination, your best bet is to hire an experienced employment attorney who specializes in discrimination cases. Our national network of employment lawyers and law firms can help you find the best representation available for your discrimination case in your area. Contact us today to let us help find your employment attorney.