Employer Discrimination Laws

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 What Is Employer Discrimination?

Employment discrimination is a significant issue that costs states a lot of time and money each year. However, many discrimination incidents go unreported simply because the victim didn’t know they were being wronged or because it was kept a secret from them.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) prohibits employers from treating workers unfairly on the basis of the following grounds:

  • Color or race;
  • Country of origin;
  • Sex or gender;
  • Age;
  • Religion;
  • Disability;
  • Status as a veteran; and
  • Pregnancy.

Employers who have fifteen or more employees are often subject to Title VII. Government job places for the federal, state, and municipal levels are also included.

Numerous additional federal statutes may be relevant even though Title VII is one of the key laws taken into account when a claim of employment discrimination is made. These laws include the Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Additionally, specific state laws may also be relevant to your claim. It’s crucial in these situations to work with a local employment attorney specializing in these types of disputes. They can give you advice on how to defend your employment rights and how to go about doing so.

Understanding what employers can and cannot do in accordance with anti-discrimination regulations is crucial for safeguarding oneself from job discrimination.

A “Protected Class” Is What?

Employers are obliged to make wise hiring decisions but are not permitted to do so based solely on a candidate’s membership in a protected class.

The term “protected class” is used in several federal statutes and laws.

Additional protected classes are defined by legislation in some states, but not all states have their own laws. It typically contains a person’s:

  • Race
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Country of origin
  • Faith or Creed
  • Disability
  • Sexual inclination or gender

As a result, a person’s race or age cannot be used as a basis for hiring or firing. For instance, if it is discovered that the employer only employs individuals of a particular race, they may be engaging in racial discrimination. Additionally, it must be shown that the employer intended to discriminate against a protected class.

Naturally, each job description specifies specific qualities that a candidate must possess; however, it is typically seen as job discrimination when a candidate is flatly rejected because of their membership in a protected class.

How Can I Show Discrimination in the Workplace?

Employees must establish a “prima facie” case of discrimination if they think they may have encountered employment prejudice at work or during an interview. In essence, this statement suggests that they must build a case that the opposing side can challenge or try to refute.

The following components are often necessary to prove job discrimination at least prima facie:

  • The employee belongs to one of the protected classes of people listed above;
  • The employee has had a negative work action, like:
    • Reduced rank;
    • A reduction in benefits
    • Getting let go or fired;
    • Compulsory retirement; or
  • Being rejected for a job or a recruit because of a trait that is legally protected
  • The employer gave preferential treatment to similarly situated workers who did not share the protected qualities; and
  • Despite being qualified for the job, the individual was denied it on one of those illegal grounds.

Why Is Pretext Crucial for Establishing Employment Discrimination?

Pretext, as used in employment law, is a fictitious justification offered for a negative employment action that conceals the real reasons the employer acted in the way that they did.

In essence, the employer seeks to justify (create a pretext for) acts taken against an employee that are not motivated by illegal or discriminatory motives.

For instance, if an individual is fired from their job because their employer learns that they practice Catholicism, the employer can try to argue that the employee was let go as a result of a company reorganization rather than because of their religious convictions.

Having a lawyer to assist you in assembling evidence that demonstrates the true motivations behind your employer’s behavior is a smart idea when filing a claim for job discrimination.

How Is Pretext Decided Upon?

There are numerous ways to establish the existence of pretext, including circumstances where pretext can be inferred from an employer’s illegal discriminating actions. Several instances include:

  • Changing Justifications: An employer is more likely to be dishonest if their justifications for terminating an employee have changed during the course of the dispute;
  • Timing: The factfinder may be able to infer workplace retaliation if there was a short period of time between a protected activity and the adverse employment action. The evidence for demonstrating the existence of a pretext is stronger the shorter the time period between the employee’s acts and termination;
  • Delay in Addressing Employee Behaviors: If the employer claims that an employee was fired for their foul language, poor job skills, inattentiveness to detail, etc. but has employed that employee for a long time and has never noted or disciplined this behavior in the past, then it is more likely that the reason is exaggerated to justify the firing; or
  • Deviation from Policy: An employer that has never terminated an employee for failing to do a task, such as lifting 25 pounds, and then does so suddenly for a recently disabled employee is more likely to be determined to have engaged in unlawful discrimination against the employee.

What Legal Actions Can Be Taken Against Employers Who Are Discovered to Have Discriminated?

This relies on several variables. First, it depends on the basis of the discrimination. For instance, if the prejudice involved employment, the victim may be eligible for a position with that business. Additionally, if a person was wrongfully fired due to prejudice, they will typically be entitled to get their job back. Everything depends on the basis of the employer’s discrimination.

Second, a specific procedure must be followed in legal matters involving employment discrimination. The employee must often start by submitting a complaint to a government body like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC or a comparable organization will then launch an investigation, and it will typically be up to them to determine what form of legal action is necessary. For instance, they may take action to enforce that requirement if they decide it is appropriate to fire the employer.

As a result, a person can typically only petition for legal remedies in a private civil claim after filing with the EEOC.

I’m Hesitant to File a Complaint. What Do I Need to Do?

Of course, you should refrain from complaining about pointless or insignificant issues. Internal techniques like communicating with HR, holding a meeting, sending an email, etc., may be able to resolve this. However, you shouldn’t be reluctant to make a complaint if you think you really have a significant legal issue at hand.

The statute forbids employers from firing workers in retaliation for bringing legal action against them. Retaliatory discharge, which is prohibited on all grounds, is the act of firing an employee who has filed a legitimate complaint.

Do I Need Legal Counsel to Handle My Employer Discrimination Claims?

Discrimination laws can be intricate; thus, an experienced discrimination lawyer is typically needed. This is also true for complaints made to the EEOC and other government agencies; you will typically need legal assistance with those inquiries.

A capable attorney in your area can assist you with the claim process and investigate the laws to ensure you get the right kind of legal compensation for your losses.


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