Employees who are suffering from discrimination in the workplace often feel helpless or are unsure of what they can do. Discrimination in the workplace is still common today and it is often under-reported.
In times of economic turmoil, employees also feel pressured to tolerate harsh working environments for fear of losing the ability to support themselves and their family.
However, there are many ways that an employee can fight against discrimination, and many of these ways will not lead to financial hardship for the affected employee.
Am I Experiencing Discrimination?
The first question that needs to be answered is whether the employee is actually facing discrimination.
Discrimination has a highly specific definition in an office environment. If an employee’s ability to effectively complete their job or an employee’s ability to earn is being affected by their gender, religion, age, race, or sexual orientation it is considered discrimination.
Other items of issue such as a person’s appearance or weight may also constitute a hostile workplace in the right situation but it will not usually constitute discrimination.
What Can I Do About Discrimination?
The first thing an employee facing discrimination needs to do is keep detailed and accurate documentation regarding the discrimination.
This documentation should be kept in a safe place and not on company property such as a company computer so that the employee does not lose access to them.
Effective documentation should include when discrimination happened, how it happened, and any witnesses or evidence to the discrimination. After the documentation has been completed the discrimination should be reported to the company’s human resources department. This is an extremely critical step because unless the employee gives the company the opportunity and time to respond to the discrimination the company can simply say they did not know.
What If Nothing Is Done?
Sometimes an employer may ignore claims of discrimination, attempt to resolve them in an unsatisfactory manner, or even retaliate against the discriminated employee. If any of these issues occur the employee should immediately seek legal representation. There are many lawyers that are specialized in an employment law and there are also legal aid societies that can help the employee free of charge.
Discrimination is an extremely difficult situation to deal with but with the proper documentation and research most employees can both end their employer’s discrimination and get what they are owed. The availability of legal resources makes it extremely easy for an employee who believes they are facing discrimination to get good legal advice before moving forward.