Employment discrimination is a serious issue in the United States. Despite being illegal, discrimination is a regular occurrence that often has a significant impact on victims' lives and causes untold losses in productivity in our economy. For this reason, it's vital for both employers and employees to be aware of what discrimination is, how to prevent it, and what to do if it occurs. At the Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson, serving Allen, TX, Plano, TX, and Frisco, TX, we discuss what you need to know about workplace discrimination.
Examples of Workplace Discrimination
Both federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace. Workplace discrimination occurs when a person is treated differently because of their age, disability, sex, disability status, national origin, color, race, religion, or other protected characteristics. In addition, workplace discrimination occurs when a person is retaliated against for making a complaint about discrimination or participating in an investigation related to alleged discrimination.
Some specific examples of conduct that often constitute workplace discrimination include:
- Sexual harassment
- Taking adverse employment action against employees because of protected factors
- Asking improper questions during the interview process
- Terminating female employees because of pregnancy
- Hostile comments regarding an employee’s religion
As an employee, it's important to be aware of the fact that discrimination can be difficult to recognize. In addition, while an isolated incident may not rise to the level of actionable discrimination, a pervasive pattern of behavior might. Likewise, in some cases, a single incident may be so serious as to constitute unlawful workplace discrimination. For this reason, if you suspect that you may have been subject to workplace discrimination at any point, it's in your best interest to speak to an experienced lawyer as soon as you can.
The High Costs of Workplace Discrimination
When workplace discrimination happens, it can affect nearly every aspect of victims’ lives. In many instances, people who are discriminated against often experience significant emotional distress and may even avoid going to work. Some of the specific losses that employees who become victims of discrimination can experience include:
- Lost income
- Lost future earnings
- Lost benefits
- Emotional distress
- Career derailment
Importantly, workplace discrimination also can affect employers negatively, and not just in terms of legal liability as a result of claims made by victims of discrimination. When discrimination occurs, it can result in high employee turnover, poor morale, and reduced productivity. Consequently, employers have significant incentives beyond mere compliance to do everything they can to eliminate workplace discrimination.
How to Protect Yourself from Workplace Discrimination
Fortunately for employees, there are concrete steps you can take to protect yourself from discrimination in the workplace. First and foremost, arm yourself with knowledge; review the law in your state so you have a basic idea of what constitutes unlawful discrimination. If you believe that discrimination is happening, keep careful records. Do not delete emails, texts, voicemails, or other records of discrimination, even if they make you uncomfortable. Be sure to go through any internal channels that are available to report the discrimination, such as your company's human resources department. Finally, be sure to contact an attorney that represents the victims of workplace discrimination as soon as you can.
To schedule a time for a case review, contact our practice online or call us at (214) 617-1327. We serve clients in Allen, Plano, and Frisco.
Kind thanks for the infographic created by Olivia at Blair & Ramirez LLP