Discrimination in the workplace is illegal under federal and state laws if it is based on a protected characteristic and your employer is covered. If you were discriminated against on the basis of a characteristic such as your gender, age, disability, race, color, national origin or religion, it is important for you to understand how to prove a discrimination claim in order to recover damages. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler may provide an honest evaluation of your claim and guide you through the process if discrimination occurred.
Discrimination is unlawful if the action was taken on the basis of your protected characteristic. Discrimination is prohibited in all aspects of your employment from hiring to firing. If the action taken by your employer was not based on a protected characteristic, you will not have the basis for filing a discrimination claim. It is also important for you to understand that the anti-discrimination laws do not apply to all employers. For example, federal anti-discrimination laws for all protected characteristics other than age apply only to employers with 15 or more employees. The age discrimination law applies to employers that have 20 or more employees. Some state laws are much broader in scope. For example, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination applies to all employers regardless of their size.
Before you can file a discrimination charge with the EEOC or your state’s agency, you must first file a complaint with your employer so that your employer has a chance to handle it. You should review your company’s procedure and follow it. However, if the person who committed the discriminatory act is the designated person with whom you are supposed to file a complaint, you can complain to his or her supervisor or another person in a position of authority. Make certain that your internal complaint is in writing and that you save a copy. If your employer does not act on your complaint or retaliates against you for filing it, you will want to talk to an attorney at Swartz Swidler.
If the company doesn’t respond appropriately to your complaint, you can then file a discrimination charge with the EEOC or your state’s agency. It is important for you to be mindful of the deadlines for filing charges. If you are a federal employee, you must file your charge within 45 days of the discriminatory act. If you are another type of employee, a charge must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days. Some states allow people to file complaints with their agencies within 300 days.
It is important that your discrimination charge is thoroughly documented. Ask your employer for a copy of its policy and procedure manual. If you have an employee handbook, save it. You should also ask for copies of the documents in your personnel file such as your past performance evaluations. Save evidence of any emails, text messages, letters or other documents that support your claim. If there were witnesses, write down their names and contact information along with the date of the incident and what happened. It is best for you to gather this evidence and save it at a location other than at your workplace.
Proving a discrimination claim can be difficult. Your employer is likely to argue that its actions were for a permissible purpose instead of a discriminatory reason. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler might be able to help you to gather the evidence that you will need to support your claim. If you are given leave to file a lawsuit, the attorneys may help you to file it in the court that has jurisdiction to hear your case. Contact Swartz Swidler today to schedule a consultation so that you can learn more about your rights.