Employer Discrimination Laws

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What is Employer Discrimination?

Employer discrimination may occur when an employer discriminates with regards to:

Employment discrimination is a major problem and costs the state large amounts of time and resources every year.  However, many discrimination cases go overlooked simply because the worker didn’t actually know that they were discriminated against, or the discrimination was kept hidden from them. 

In order to protect oneself from employer discrimination, it’s important to understand what employers can and can’t do under anti-discrimination laws.

What is a “Protected Class”?

While employers are expected to make informed decisions regarding who they should and shouldn’t hire, they can’t base their decisions on a person’s membership in a protected class.  A “protected class” is defined by various federal laws and statutes; it usually includes a person’s:

Thus, an employer can’t hire or fire a person simply based on their race or age.  For example, if the employer is found to only hire people who are of a certain race, they may be discriminating on the basis of race.  Also, it’s necessary to prove that the employer intended to engage in discrimination based on protected class.

Of course, each job description has certain characteristics that need to be filled by a certain type of worker; however, to engage in outright rejection simply because of membership in a protected class is usually considered job discrimination.

What are Some Legal Remedies Against Employers Who are Found to Have Discriminated?

This depends on several factors.  First, it depends on what the discrimination occurred for.  For instance, if the discrimination was regarding hiring, then the person may be entitled to a job position in that company.  Or, if the discrimination involved wrongful termination of an employee, the employee will usually be able to get their job back.  It all depends on what the employer discriminated for.

Secondly, legal cases for employer discrimination must follow a certain process.  First, the worker must usually file a complaint with a government agency like the Equal Employment Opportunity Center (EEOC).  The EEOC or similar agency will then conduct an investigation, and it will usually be up to them to decide what kind of legal remedy would be appropriate.  For instance, if they deem it appropriate to terminate the employer, they may take steps to enforce that requirement. 

Therefore, a person can usually only file for legal remedies in a private civil claim after they’ve filed with the EEOC first. 

I’m Afraid to File a Complaint Because of my Employer.  What Should I Do?

Of course you should avoid filing a complaint for frivolous matters and trivial matters.  These might be resolvable through internal methods like speaking with HR, having a meeting, sending an e-mail, etc.  However, if you believe that you do have a serious legal issue at hand, you shouldn’t be afraid to file a complaint. 

Employers are prohibited by law from terminating employees in retaliation for filing a lawsuit against them.   Firing an employee who has lodged a valid complaint is known as “retaliatory discharge” and is illegal by all counts.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Employer Discrimination Claims?

Discrimination laws can be complicated and generally require the assistance of a qualified attorney.  This is true also for claims filed with the EEOC and other government bodies- you’ll usually need a lawyer to help you with those investigations.  A competent lawyer in your area can help you file your claim and can also research the laws to ensure that you receive the appropriate type of legal relief for your losses.

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Last Modified: 11-21-2012 01:15 PM PST

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