What to Do When Discrimination Happens

Employees who fall victim to workplace discrimination may feel anxious, angry, confused, violated or even fearful.  In this state of mind, it may be difficult for a person to formulate a course of action to resolve the problem.  Victims of workplace discrimination could significantly benefit from having a default plan at their disposal.

InjuryBoard has gathered information and developed this article to help employment discrimination victims realize the correct course of action to quickly and effectively resolve the problems created by workplace discrimination.  This article will provide you with a list of options you may choose if you are discriminated against in the workplace, and an analysis of the consequences of those actions.  After reading the article, you will be able to make an informed decision regarding how to proceed if you should ever face employment discrimination. 

The Value of a Diverse Workplace

It is difficult for some employment discrimination victims to arrive at the decision to fight the injustice.  Certainly, the act of reporting workplace discrimination can lead to some negative consequences for the victim. 

Many injured parties do not have the financial resources to fight workplace discrimination.  Generally, victims must quit their former jobs in order to file a workplace discrimination lawsuit.  Otherwise, the injured parties would endure the awkward experience of encountering their discriminators on a daily basis at work.  Some injured parties may find it challenging to quickly find an alternate source of income.  Further, hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit can be an extremely time-consuming, emotionally draining, painful, and financially costly endeavor.  Some people fear the public’s perception or judgment of “serial complainers.”   Individuals may question whether the benefits of winning a workplace discrimination lawsuit outweigh the costs.

These challenges beg the question: is it always advisable to fight workplace discrimination?  When making this decision, you should consider several factors.  You cannot control every factor that affects your decision.  For example, you may decide that the economy is not strong enough for you to quit your job and attempt to find other employment.  If you choose not to quit your job, you will almost certainly experience discomfort in your work environment.  You may need to perform a balancing test between what you have lost because of workplace discrimination, and what you would gain from a successful lawsuit. 

Finally, you must realize that you may lose your employment discrimination lawsuit.  In the worst-case scenario, you will still hold the job that sparked your discrimination lawsuit, and you will still be subordinate to the employer who discriminated against you.  Although Equal Employment Opportunity laws (discussed in the article “Protections that Guard Against Workplace Discrimination”) protect employees against retaliation by employers, laws are imperfect and sometimes employers may find ways to punish “whistleblowers.” 

On the other hand, the decision to fight workplace discrimination can yield many positive rewards.  You may reap financial rewards from a favorable jury verdict.  You may prevent future injustices for others.  You will rest with the knowledge that you did the right thing.  More importantly, shedding light on workplace discrimination may call attention to the issues and educate others about their workplace rights. 

In the end, you must weigh the issues based on your own circumstances and decide whether or not to fight workplace discrimination.   However, we at InjuryBoard encourage you to fight for your rights.  Think carefully about the possible repercussions of refusing to take a stand against workplace discrimination.  Tolerance is tantamount to acceptance.  We emphasize that it is important to fight for your rights, even if it comes at a cost.
CLICK HERE - for more information on fighting workplace discrimination

KEY STRATEGY– Although fighting workplace discrimination may be challenging at times, it is important to fight injustice and discrimination.   

Reporting Discrimination in the Workplace

At InjuryBoard, we believe that victims of workplace discrimination should report the injustice.  Only then will employers who discriminate against employees be subject to punishment for their actions.  This could eventually lead to lower levels of discrimination.  If employers know they can get away with treating employees unfairly, they will be unlikely to change their improper behavior. 

If you decide to report workplace discrimination, there are several methods available to you.  Perhaps the most accessible avenue you may pursue is reporting the discrimination to your company’s formal reporting system.  By reporting the problem to someone within the company (especially if the incident is not major), a manager may be able to diffuse the problem before it becomes serious. 

However, if the company has no formal reporting procedure or if reporting channels within the workplace prove to be futile, you may wish to report discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Anyone who believes that their employment rights have been violated may file a claim with the EEOC.  Moreover, any person, agency, or organization may file a claim on behalf of a person in order to protect the injured person’s identity.  An individual may file a report at the local EEOC office either by mail or in person. 

Bear in mind that there are time limits for reporting workplace discrimination.  You must file your charge with the EEOC no more than 180 days from the date of the alleged violation.  This deadline may extended in some cases.

CLICK HERE - for more information on the statute of limitations for filing a claim

The EEOC office will investigate your claim to determine whether you have a viable claim, or “reasonable cause” to believe that you have been victimized by your employer.  Because the EEOC discourages unnecessary legal action, the agency will likely attempt to facilitate a resolution through negotiation prior to filing a law suit.  Judicial action is only a last resort.

CLICK HERE - to learn more about filing reports against employers who discriminate

KEY STRATEGY – It's usually best to use your company’s formal reporting system to report discrimination before taking further action.  If that proves unsuccessful, contact the EEOC or a private attorney to determine whether you have a viable case of discrimination.

Read the next article in the series:  Legal Issues and Workplace Discrimination 

Contact an attorney in your area.