How-To

Workplace Discrimination

Discrimination in general is something that should not be accepted in any way, shape or form. It definitely does not have a place in the modern business world, and it never should. However, there are those who know that it shouldn’t exist, but do not understand the actual business laws that protect employees against discrimination.

This is something that you need to understand, and what you don’t know will absolutely hurt you. What would you do if you didn’t understand workplace discrimination laws and an employee files a discrimination claim against your company? Whether on accident or deliberately, employers who violate these laws face rather stiff financial and legal penalties. But that’s not the only thing they face: it can guarantee bad publicity, low employee moral, and much, much more.

Workplace Discrimination: What It Is And What It Isn’t.

There are several characteristics of a person that are protected by law. These include: - Race - Religion - National origin - Sex - Disability - Veteran states

When an employee suffers unfavorable or unfair treatment based on one or more of these characteristics, then they have experienced discrimination. Discrimination can also occur against workers who have openly opposed to something or have reported certain activity to the authorities.

Federal law prohibits any type of discrimination in many work-related areas. These areas include but not limited to: job evaluations, promotion policies, recruiting, training, hiring, disciplinary action, and compensation.

However, there is a difference between unfair treatment based on one of the protected characteristics and unfair treatment based on job performance, and sometimes even personality. Treating an employee differently from others violates EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) laws, but if its based on those characteristics protected by the law. But do keep in mind that discrimination claims tend to be highly subjective.

Therefore, you don’t have to extend any type of preferential treatment to any employee, however the law requires that you treat and show the same type of treatment towards all employees and enforce the same rules, regulations, and policies for each and every person.

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EEO laws state that if an employee has experienced discrimination, he/she has the right to seek remedies including:

  • Compensation for pain and suffering.
  • If they were fired or reassigned, then they may get restoration of their old job.
  • Back pay.
  • And if necessary, a court order to stop the discrimination.

In many instances, employers who are found to be guilty of workplace discrimination can face huge fines; anywhere upwards of $300,000 in punitive damages, and of course there is the possibility of further investigation and other legal action.

Statute of Limitations.

As with most claims and suits that are pursued, there is a statute of limitations. In the workforce, most complaints and claims against employers regarding discrimination are to be filed within 180 days of the alleged incident. If it is not pursued by that time, there is a big chance that they cannot pursue any further legal action. There is a special case, however: sexual discrimination. These claims must be filed within 90 days of the incident. First, the employee must receive a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) which legally certifies their right to file a sexual discrimination claim against their employer.