Workplace discrimination comes in many different forms, and all forms of discrimination are illegal under federal law. It’s one thing not to like your job, but working in a hostile environment where you are continually belittled for discriminating reasons should not be tolerated. If you are facing discrimination in the workplace, let the experienced employment attorneys at Swartz Swidler, LLC, help you fight for your rights.
What is Workplace Discrimination?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted to prevent employers from discriminating against employees based on:
Although many people are aware that these are protected classes, discrimination is still quite pervasive. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), gives a breakdown of workplace discrimination complaints filed in 2018:
- Retaliation: 39,469 total charges (51.6% of all charges filed)
- Sex: 24,655 total charges (32.3% of all charges filed)
- Race: 24,600 total charges (32.2% of all charges filed)
- Disability: 24,605 total charges (32.2% of all charges filed)
- Age: 16,911 total charges (22.1% of all charges filed)
- National Origin: 7,106 total charges (9.3% of all charges filed)
- Color: 3,166 total charges (4.1% of all charges filed)
- Religion: 2,859 total charges (3.7% of all charges filed)
- Equal Pay Act: 1,066 total charges (1.4% of all charges filed)
- Genetic Information: 220 total charges (0.3% of all charges filed)
What is Harassment?
Sometimes, people confuse discrimination with harassment. Harassment is a form of discrimination. Some types of harassment include unwelcomed behavior by a manager, another employee, a client, or anyone else in the workplace based on color, race, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or genetic information.
Types of Workplace Discrimination
Workplace discrimination occurs when an individual faces discrimination due to several factors. In addition to the reasons listed above, employees and job applicants may also face discrimination due to pregnancy or simply because of their relationship with another individual.
Examples of Employment Discrimination
It is important to remember that not every instance of unfavorable treatment constitutes unlawful discrimination. The following examples depict situations where employment discrimination has occurred:
- Stating that a particular type of candidate is preferred in a job ad
- Excluding potential employees in the job hiring process due to specific discriminating reasons
- Denying employees compensation or benefits due to specific discriminating reasons
- Paying employees different salaries when they have equal qualifications and are in the same position as higher-paid employees
- Discriminating in the assignment of leave (including disability or maternity leave) or retirement options
- Refusing or interrupting the use of business facilities
- Discrimination when issuing promotions or lay-offs
Discrimination Issues Further Explained
Age discrimination is expressly prohibited by law, with just a few exceptions. Employers are prohibited from specifying age preferences in job advertisements. Additionally, employees must provide employees the same benefits regardless of their age, with the only exception being when the cost of supplemented benefits to younger employees is equal to providing reduced benefits to older employees. Age discrimination laws also apply to internship and apprenticeship programs.
It is illegal for businesses to discriminate based on an individual’s religious beliefs. Employers are required to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs when reasonable as long as it does not have negative consequences to the business.
Men and women who have the same qualifications, position, and skill level should be paid the same wages. It is illegal for employers to determine salary based on gender. It is also unlawful to lower a particular gender’s pay level to equalize compensation across the board.
Discriminating against an employee due to pregnancy is illegal. Pregnancy should be handled just as an employer would handle a short-term illness or any other situation that would necessitate special considerations. Even job applicants have the same protections as employees and are protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978.
Discrimination in the workplace contributes to a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is created when the harassment is so great that it interferes with the employee’s ability to work and makes the environment hostile and uncomfortable.
An employee has every right to ask the harasser to stop, and the conversation doesn’t necessarily have to be confrontational. It can be as simple as letting them know that how they are treating you is offensive. This route is not always the answer, however. Although many people will stop unwanted behavior when confronted, not all will. Sometimes taking action is the only way to fight for your rights.
Employment Discrimination Complaints
Employers are prohibited from subjecting employees to workplace discrimination based on protected characteristics. Under Title VII, employees have the right to file a charge (complaint) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the agency that oversees the enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws.
There were many complaints filed in 2018, but it is important to know that there are still many instances of workplace discrimination that go unreported. Many people fear retaliation for filing a complaint; however, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against anyone who has filed a complaint or participated in an investigation.
If you believe that you are being discriminated against, consider speaking to an attorney about your situation. It is essential to get the opinion of an expert attorney who has been involved in successful employment cases. An experienced attorney will be able to determine whether or not your case is considered discrimination under the law.
Swartz Swidler, LLC, is regarded as one of the leading employment law firms in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We’ve represented numerous employees who have faced many kinds of discrimination. We know the process and the laws and are well-prepared to advise you on your specific situation. Fill out the contact form today, and someone from our team will get back to you as quickly as possible.