The fact that workplace discrimination is illegal doesn’t stop it from happening. Discrimination comes in many forms and doesn’t always involve being fired unfairly from a job.
Most people who are being discriminated against have a gut feeling something is amiss, but that’s not enough to prove anything in court. The first step towards holding employers responsible for discriminatory acts is to determine what type of claim to file. From there, a lawyer can help with uncovering direct and circumstantial evidence to support the case.
What Is Workplace Discrimination?
Before moving on to talk about workplace discrimination suits, it’s worth taking the time to offer a general definition. Workplace discrimination occurs when employees that are members of a protected group are treated unfairly, harassed, denied reasonable accommodations for disabilities or beliefs, asked improperly to disclose personal information, or retaliated against for filing a complaint. There are five federal laws that protect people from workplace discrimination. They include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- The Equal Pay Act
- Title I and Title V of the Americans With Disabilities Act
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- The Immigration and Control Act (IRCA)
- Seconds 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act
- Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
- The Civil Rights Act of 1991
Each of these laws applies to different people or situations. What all of them have in common is that they are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC also provides information about how to file lawsuits against employers, but it’s up to employees to find an attorney.
Types of Discrimination Claims
There are three types of discrimination claims that can be filed by people who belong to one or more protected categories. They are:
1. Discriminatory Intent/Treatment
A discriminatory intent/treatment claim can be filed against an employer who treats one or more employees unfairly because of their membership in a protected class or category. Find out more about protected attributes below.
2. Disparate Impact
A disparate impact claim can be filed when the effects of a company’s employment policies, rules, or practices are discriminatory. There’s no need to prove intent to successfully file a disparate impact claim.
Employees can file retaliation claims after being fired or treated adversely for filing an original discrimination complaint. Filing retaliation claims is a bit more complicated, so speak with a lawyer first.
Protected attributes are qualities that apply to people in protected classes or categories. Employers cannot legally discriminate on the basis of the following attributes.
- Gender identity
- Pregnancy or potential pregnancy
- Sexual orientation
- Family responsibilities
- Marital status
- Political opinion
- Trade union activity
If an employer discriminates on the basis of one of these protected attributes, the affected employee will first have to file a complaint with the EEOC. This agency will then offer a right to sue.
Find Legal Help
Any employer who is engaging in discriminatory acts deserves to be held accountable. Workers who have been fired, disciplined, or treated unfairly as a result of their membership in any of the protected classes above should contact a lawyer to discuss their options. The same is true for anyone who has been retaliated against for filing a discrimination claim. The victims of discrimination deserve compensation, and the perpetrators deserve to be held responsible.