Being treated differently from other employees at your job may be legal or illegal, depending on the reason that your employer treats you differently. In the employment context, differential treatment often means that an employer treats a group of employees differently from other groups because of specific characteristics that they are unable to change. If your employer engages in differential treatment, it may be unlawful if it is for a discriminatory purpose. The attorneys at Swartz Swider are able to review what has occurred and explain whether the treatment that you have received by your employer appears to be legal or illegal. We can also explain the steps that you can take if your employer has engaged in illegal discrimination based on your protected status.
It can sometimes be difficult to determine when an employer has crossed the line of legality by treating certain employees differently. Here are some things that you should know about differential treatment at your workplace.
Scenarios of differential treatment that might be unlawful
Here are a few situations in which differential treatment at work could be illegal workplace discrimination:
- Your employer only hires a specific race or gender for a certain position;
- Your employer does not give promotion to older workers because they might retire;
- Your employer segregates different areas of your workplace by religion or race;
- Your employer excludes same-sex couples from work parties;
- Your employer demotes pregnant women or refuses to hire pregnant workers; or
- Your employer makes it difficult for disabled workers to complete their job duties.
Differential treatment normally occurs in a pattern instead of in a single incident. There are many different scenarios that can happen in your workplace. When you are subjected to unlawful differential treatment, it may impact your ability to reach your full potential or to complete the tasks of your job. Employers are prohibited from treating protected classes of employees differently simply because of their protected characteristics.
If you believe that you have been treated unfairly at your job based on a protected characteristic, it is important for you to talk to an experienced employment lawyer at Swartz Swidler. We can analyze the facts of what happened and advise you about whether you have grounds to file a discrimination charge against your employer.
Types of differential treatment that are not illegal
There are some cases in which differential treatment at your work is lawful. For example, if your employer treats you poorly because of your job performance, that is not unlawful. Employers are allowed to treat workers differently based on their individual job performance and can discipline and reward them differently based on that. It is also not unlawful for an employer to treat an employee differently because of personality differences. While the employee might think that it is unfair, it is not prohibited discrimination for an employer to simply dislike a worker as long as the dislike is not because of his or her protected status.
Treatment that is discriminatory in nature
When your employer treats workers differently because of their protected characteristics, the differential treatment is discriminatory and illegal. Some of the protected characteristics include the following:
- National origin
- Pregnancy status
- Sexual orientation
Under federal and state anti-discrimination laws, employers are prohibited from discriminating during hiring, interviewing, offering promotions, giving work assignments, giving bonuses, and terminating employees. For example, an employer who refuses to give a promotion to a worker because of the worker’s religion is engaging in prohibited discrimination.
What can you do if you have received discriminatory treatment?
When employers treat workers differently because of their protected characteristics, the actions of the employer are illegal. Employees who have been the victims of workplace discrimination can file discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the state’s corresponding agency. Once a charge has been filed, the EEOC will investigate it. If the employer is found guilty of illegal discrimination, the employer could be ordered to pay compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees, and punitive damages.
If you believe that your employer has engaged in differential treatment against you that is illegal, it is important for you to talk to an experienced employment attorney to talk about the options that you might have. Unlawful discriminatory treatment continues to occur in many workplaces in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It may be difficult to determine whether some situations were legal or amounted to unlawful discrimination.
You should start by complaining within your company, according to its policy for reporting discrimination. You should file your internal complaint in writing and keep a copy of it. Make certain that you gather all the evidence that you can. Write down any discriminatory incident that occurs and include the names of any witnesses who were there. Keep copies of any discriminatory emails or text messages, and ask for copies of your performance evaluations. If your company fails to investigate and correct the discriminatory treatment that you have experienced, you can then file a discrimination charge with the EEOC.
An attorney at Swartz Swidler can help you to figure out whether your employer’s actions were illegal or legal. If they are determined to be unlawful, the attorneys may help you to understand the options that you might have. Many people are afraid to complain about being treated differently in their jobs because they fear retaliation. Retaliation against people for reporting discrimination at their jobs is also illegal even if your discrimination complaint is found to not have valid grounds.
The attorneys at Swartz Swidler can help you to understand the legal rights that you have, including the right to work at a job free from unlawful discrimination. We can help you to understand the complaint process and the types of evidence that you might need to gather. To learn about your rights, contact Swartz Swidler today for a consultation.