Over the course of centuries, varieties of discrimination have persisted as laws and enforcement bodies have struggled to deal with them. Here, “discrimination” means the positive or negative treatment of another person based on their perceived group membership. Though it is possible to positively act toward someone due to discrimination, discrimination normally involves negative treatment. The federal government and all 50 states have laws prohibiting discrimination in at least the main categories of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Furthermore, the federal government and some states go further, including the categories of age (40 or older), disability (physical or mental) or genetic information. Finally, 21 states plus the District of Columbia have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or sexual identity; meanwhile, there is a federal executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation for government employment in the District of Columbia, for the entire federal civilian workforce and for the U.S. Postal Service.
What, then, should an employee or job applicant do if he/she believes he is unlawfully being discriminated against due to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation or sexual identity? Federal employees or job applicants would normally follow the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) complaint process, found here: http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/fed_employees/complaint_overview.cfm
Meanwhile, non-federal employees or job applicants can file a “charge of employment discrimination” according to the process found here: http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/howtofile.cfm Mind you, while the EEOC is notably connected with anti-discrimination measures, there are a host of anti-discrimination and workplace issue laws that are not enforced by the EEOC. That list of laws and their proper contacts are found here: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/other.cfm When in doubt, contact the EEOC and that agency can tell you whether it or another agency/individual should handle your case.
In addition to the EEOC and other agencies to which you might be directed by the EEOC, each state has its own office for handling workplace discrimination complaints. In California, for example, that office is the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which accepts complaints here: href="http://esq5.houdiniesq.com/dfeh2/esq/reg/" target="_blank">http://esq5.houdiniesq.com/dfeh2/esq/reg/ Finally, it is possible to privately sue for workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation or sexual identity, depending on whether you are covered by federal or state laws. However, you should take great care to FIRST ensure your compliance with federal and state complaint procedures. If you fail to follow their proper procedures for complaints of workplace discrimination, you may be prevented from successfully privately suing for discrimination. Your best bet, then, is to contact a lawyer who specializes in workplace discrimination issues and have him/her guide you through the proper processes, depending on the type of discrimination and the federal/state laws that might apply to you.
DO’S AND DON’TS
DON’T be intimidated by the process or the people.
DO determine whether you have been unlawfully discriminated against as an employee or job applicant under state or federal law according to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation or sexual identity.
DO start with the EEOC complaint process found here: http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/fed_employees/complaint_overview.cfm if you are a federal employee or job applicant.
DO start with the EEOC “charge of employment discrimination” process found here: http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/howtofile.cfm if you are a non-federal employee or job applicant.
DO follow the EEOC’s direction for properly filing complaints with other agencies/individuals found here: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/other.cfm
DO contact your state’s department in charge of fair employment to determine where and how you can file discrimination complaints with your state.
DO contact a lawyer who specializes in Workplace Discrimination to determine the proper procedures to be followed according to federal and state laws, particularly if you are interested in filing a private suit based on workplace discrimination.
By Kathy Catanzarite
[Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information cannot be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither HandelontheLaw.com, or any of its affiliates, shall have any liability stemming from this article.]
Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.