Talking to your employer about employment discrimination may not be the easiest task in the world, but in some cases, it may be absolutely necessary. Many workers may fear retaliation and other adverse reactions from an employer and hesitate to address pressing issues concerning employee rights in the workplace. Still, employees shouldn’t be afraid to contact an employer about legitimate discrimination concerns.
Where to Start When Addressing Employment Discrimination
The best step to take when deciding to talk to your employer about employment discrimination is to do your homework first. Researching the laws and regulations designed to protect workers’ rights can go a long way toward establishing a rational basis for your concerns. When an employee is equipped with the right tools, addressing employment discrimination can be a whole lot less daunting.
The Internet is packed with a significant number of resources for researching laws, regulations and guidelines on employment discrimination. It’s important to research both state and federal resources, looking into certified associations, councils and boards that may present information relevant to your issue.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is also especially helpful. This federal agency is responsible for enforcing nearly all of the employments rights laws that employees can use to combat employment discrimination. These laws include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion and sex.
The EEOC also enforces laws similar to Title VII such as Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and amendments to Title VII like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).
State government websites may also be an excellent resource for more information about employee rights. Knowing what protections are in place regarding employee discrimination ahead of time could place an employee who wishes to talk with an employer in an excellent position to do so.
Above all, the best source for information, counseling and advice on employment discrimination matters is an employment rights attorney. While much of the information that can be found by doing your own homework may be reliable, that’s not always the case. In serious matters like employment discrimination, it’s always best to contact a qualified attorney to discuss the specifics of your issue.
Identifying the Right Person To Discuss Employment Rights Issues
Each company has in place a variety of policies and procedures for addressing the topic of employment discrimination. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the proper process. Part of that involves knowing who to go to within your company with your discrimination concerns.
In some instances, there may be a chain of command in place that dictates who the best candidate for a conversation about employment discrimination may be. In almost every company, a grievance procedure dictates the proper way to talk with your employer about any form of misconduct or maltreatment in the workplace.
Talk to HR to find exactly what the grievance process is at your company and be sure to ask which department handles the initial complaint process. Even though it may seem like a no-brainer to go directly to the co-worker, manager or supervisor involved in the discrimination, these may not be the best and most accurate choices according to company guidelines.
Following Company Guidelines When Addressing Employment Discrimination
Following company guidelines when addressing employment discrimination may need a bit more clarification only because of its extremely important nature. In some cases, the way that an employee follows company policy for filing grievances or complaining about discrimination can greatly affect the overall outcome of the situation.
According to a Supreme Court case in the area of sexual harassment called Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, not following a grievance procedure when one is available could actually help your opponent in a employment discrimination lawsuit. The Court has ruled that an employer can use an employee’s failure to follow company procedure for filing grievances is an affirmative defense to allegations of sexual harassment.
The same rule could apply in cases involving other types of discrimination as well. Thus, it is sometimes crucial that an employee follow company guidelines for addressing employment discrimination in order for any formal charges or lawsuits to be successful or to receive full compensation for any losses that come as a result of discrimination.
Beyond the Grievance Procedure: What to Do When Talks are Ineffective
Talking with your employer about a discrimination issue may not always be as effective as desired. Employers may ignore or refute your allegations and fail to take action on the situation. However, according to EEOC guidelines, employers are required to thoroughly investigate complaints about discrimination and to take reasonable steps to improve the situation.
Even if talking with your employer about discrimination becomes ineffective, you still have options. An employee can file a formal charge with the EEOC when an employer refuses to acknowledge discrimination allegations.
Filing a charge with the EEOC must be done in a timely manner and begins by contacting the state or federal (or both) EEOC office in your area. An intake specialist can explain the process and grant access to necessary forms for filing. Again, the assistance of a qualified employment rights attorney can offer considerable guidance throughout the charge filing process.
Once the dispute is in the hands of the EEOC, the agency may decide to conduct its own investigation into the details of a discrimination allegation. During this time an attorney can give extremely helpful advice about how and when to communicate with employers concerning the matter.
If, after an investigation, the EEOC decides not to take the case on, an employee has the option to sue his or her employer in order to pursue the case further. In a lawsuit, an employee’s attorney will communicate with the employer through discovery requests for more information that will help build the case for a successful conclusion.
Talking to Your Employer About Employment Discrimination
If you have a discrimination issue and need to address it with your employer, always seek the advice of a capable and experienced attorney for assistance. An attorney can help guide you through your company grievance process as well as help with filing a formal charge with the EEOC. Knowing what to say and how to say it for employment discrimination cases is a very important aspect of achieving success. Get the help of an attorney for best results.