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What is Work Discrimination?

Work discrimination occurs when an employer or supervisor treats an employee differently or less favorably due to their membership in a “protected category”.  Protected categories include major groupings such as the person’s age, race or nationality, gender, religious beliefs, political affiliation, or other categories. 

For instance, if the employer denies vacation benefits to persons who are under a certain age, and without a justifiable reason, they may be cited for work discrimination.  Liability is more likely to be found if one group of workers benefits at the expense of another group.

Work discrimination is also called “employment discrimination”.  Each state has its own set of laws that govern work discrimination claims. 

What are the Legal Remedies for Work Discrimination?

Remedies for discrimination will generally depend on the losses that the plaintiff suffered.  For instance, if the plaintiff was fired based on a discriminatory action, the legal remedy will usually be to restore the employee to their former position.

Other remedies for work discrimination may include:

  • Allowing the worker to be hired if they were denied employment
  • Providing benefits or pay raises that the employee should have been entitled to
  • Restoring any lost wages involved in the legal claim
  • Granting any promotions or other advancements that the worker was denied
  • Civil damages for other related losses

Thus, work discrimination claims can result in a range of remedies that will depend on the losses of the worker.  Also, in some cases, the employer or the entire company may be required to adjust their employment practices in light of the discriminatory conduct.

What if I Have Work Discrimination Claim?

Proving employment discrimination can involve a number of steps.  These generally include:

  • Inquiring with your HR department:  The dispute can often be resolved internally through the company’s own dispute resolution mechanisms
  • Filing a complaint with a government agency:  Usually, discrimination claims are processed by the EEOC.  You will usually need to file with a government agency before you can file a lawsuit.  The agency will conduct an investigation and enforce an appropriate remedy
  • Filing a private lawsuit:  If an investigation by the EEOC is not satisfactory, you may consider filing a civil lawsuit against the employer.  If many people have been affected, it may be appropriate to file a class action suit.

Remember, employers are not allowed to penalize, terminate, or otherwise penalize any employer who files a complaint involving work discrimination.  This prohibited by law and can further complicate the situation for the employer. 

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

Work discrimination can often involve some fairly complex legal issues and concepts.  It may be in your best interests to hire a lawyer if you have any concerns, questions, or complaints that involve work discrimination.  A qualified employment attorney in your area will be able to assist you with your claim, and can provide you with the legal representation needed during the entire process.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 09-29-2015 02:31 PM PDT

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