Employment discrimination may happen when an employee, or potential employee, is treated less favorably than other similar employees solely because of certain characteristics. These are characteristics or backgrounds that are protected by law, and may include their:
- Religion; and
- Disability, among others.
Employment discrimination can also occur when one group of employees are treated better than another group, based again on protected classes or categories which are defined by various laws. An example of this would be when one group of workers clearly receives benefits that are denied to others on the basis of their sex. Another common example would be when a current employee is denied benefits or a promotion due to their membership in a protected class.
Such discrimination most commonly happens when a person is already hired; however, it may happen when a person is still seeking employment. An example of this would be when an otherwise qualified person is not hired because they are of a certain religion.
Employment discrimination cases commonly involve only one specific characteristic of a person. An example of this would be how a person may be discriminated against on the basis of their age, or their country of origin. However, multiple factor employment discrimination is what occurs when an employer discriminates against a person based on more than one trait or protected class. An example of this would be how a person may be discriminated against in a work setting because of both their sex and their gender presentation.
To reiterate, it is also considered to be illegal to treat one group more favorably over another, based on protected categories. An example of this would be how it is illegal to grant a higher pay salary to one group of employees over another group of workers solely based on their race, especially if both groups are performing the same tasks.
Additionally, employment discrimination laws are continually expanding to include different categories and classes. Specifically, sexual orientation and gender identity are being considered more often when creating anti-discrimination policies and laws.
What Are Some Of The Laws Against Employment Discrimination?
There are a number of state and federal laws which make it illegal to discriminate against an employee based on their belonging to a protected class. Some of the more significant laws governing employment discrimination include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: A federal anti-discrimination act that makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, or national origin. It applies to private employers as well as those in local, state, and federal governments;
- The Equal Pay Act (“EPA”): This Act protects employers against gender discrimination specifically. In particular, it provides that employees of different genders should be paid equally when they are doing equal work;
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”): The ADEA provides protection from discrimination for employers who are aged 40 years and older. The Act addresses specific circumstances, such as when an employee is being forced to retire based solely on their age;
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”): Similar to other anti-discrimination laws, this Act prohibits discrimination against a person based on their disability status. It also addresses other aspects of employment, such as providing reasonable accommodations for disabled employees;
- The Immigration Reform and Control Act (“IRCA”): The IRCA imposes various requirements on employers in terms of employees’ immigration status. An example of this would be how it addresses when and how an employer should verify the employment eligibility of workers; and
- The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”): The FMLA is a federal law that governs how and when employees can take unpaid medical leave. Among other provisions, it provides protection against being terminated while on a legitimate or approved medical leave.
What Is Mediation?
The traditional legal process has one party filing charges against another party, who must defend themselves. In civil charges, one person sues another person. In contrast, the mediation process is not always legally binding, but facilitates working together toward a common solution that is legal and acceptable for both parties involved.
Mediation advantages include:
- Mediation is less expensive than the traditional legal process;
- Mediation is confidential, while court proceedings are public;
- Mediation allows both parties significantly more control over the presented arguments and the outcome; and
- Mediators provide emotional support for both parties during the process.
One of the most common areas of law associated with mediation would be family law. A couple going through an amicable divorces may wish to agree on particulars together, rather than fighting it out in court or letting their attorneys fight it out for them. Divorce mediation is one of the most common kinds of mediation.
Other common examples of when mediation is used include:
- Prenuptial agreements;
- Childcare disputes;
- Custody issues;
- Eldercare disagreements;
- Conflicts between siblings;
- Trusts and estate planning; and
- Parenting plans.
Employees can use mediation to file grievances and address discrimination and harassment issues. Additionally, labor management issues can be debated in mediation, as can wrongful termination and workers’ compensation cases.
- Real estate agents; and
- Builders can be settled more amicably through mediation than through traditional civil procedures. Mediation is also useful for business partners who are experiencing disputes, personal injury claims, and victims who want to speak directly with their alleged offenders.
If mediation fails, the parties can still proceed through the traditional civil process.
Another alternative dispute resolution would be “binding arbitration,” in which both sides present their arguments to the arbitrator. The arbitrator renders a legally binding decision that both parties must follow.
Courts can force people into mediation, such as how some divorce and childcare agreements contain a stipulation that in the case of a breach, both parties must go to mediation. Some judges will honor the agreement and order the parties into mediation; however, mediation is generally a choice that the parties make on their own, in order to avoid court.
What Is Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Mediation?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) provides free mediation services so that disputing parties have an incentive to enroll in a mediation session. Additionally, the EEOC provides the following reasons for mediation:
- EEOC mediation is confidential. This is attractive because disputing parties usually have an interest in resolving their disputes privately. There are no transcripts or tape recordings during mediation;
- EEOC mediation does not constitute an admission. The mediation resolves disputes, but resolution does not result in a guilty or not guilty verdict; and
- EEOC mediation fosters a more amicable solution to problems. In court cases, resolving disputes can result in a considerably more hostile environment.
It is important to note that an agreement that is reached during mediation carries the weight of law. What this means is that if one party is not complying with the decision, it is important to contact the EEOC. The EEOC will then file a report and will take appropriate action in order to ensure compliance with the decision of the mediator.
Do I Need A Lawyer For Help With Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Mediation?
If you are facing employment discrimination, you should consult with a discrimination lawyer immediately. A discrimination attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options as available in your specific state, and can provide guidance regarding whether you should pursue mediation.