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.cfmWhen 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: 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.