An estimated 60% of Americans have been subjected to some form of workplace discrimination throughout their working lives. Are you one of them?
Because workplace discrimination is so pervasive, many people don’t recognize how bad it is. Discrimination at work can range from passive aggression to full-on abuse. It’s always serious, even if it doesn’t seem that way.
But how do you know if you’re experiencing discrimination in the workplace, and what should you do about it? Let’s talk about it. Read on to learn more.
How Do You Know If You’re Experiencing Workplace Discrimination?
Many people try to excuse poor behavior in the workplace because they’re worried about keeping their jobs. While this is a valid concern, you need to call out workplace discrimination both for yourself and others.
Workplace discrimination can take many forms. It can be age discrimination, gender discrimination, race discrimination, and so much more. If you’re part of a protected class, you’re protected by employment law.
Do you experience sexual harassment in the workplace? Are you being underpaid due to something outside of your control? Is your employer refusing reasonable accommodations for a disability?
These signs, among others, indicate that you’re experiencing workplace discrimination.
Don’t Quit Unless Absolutely Necessary
This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when struggling with discrimination in the workplace. You shouldn’t quit unless the environment is so hostile that you have no other option. Some employers will try to create a hostile environment, but do your best to not give in.
Employers discriminating against their employees want them to quit so that they aren’t responsible for a severance package or any legal backlash. While you can still hold an employer responsible for discrimination if you quit (with appropriate evidence), it’s in your best interest to hold out for as long as possible.
Documentation is key when you’re experiencing workplace discrimination. Keep a notebook and write down all of your experiences.
Make sure that you date everything and go into as much detail as possible. Write down specific quotes, the situation in which the quotes were said, and any specific punishments that happened as a result of the discrimination.
If it makes sense to do so, take photos. You want to have proof of the discrimination that you’re enduring if you want your employer (or other employees) to face the consequences.
Make Formal Written Complaints
Even if you don’t think that written complaints are going to be effective, it’s a good idea to make them anyway. You want to leave a paper trail. If you pursue legal action (or if you report the discrimination to higher-ups in the company in the future), you need to prove that you’ve already tried to handle the situation on a smaller scale.
Make sure that your reports are clear and accurate. It’s a good idea to step back and think about the report before you submit it, so you have a clear head. Make sure that your emotions aren’t fueling the report.
Try to stay as unbiased as possible and consider any possible excuse that the offending party might have. Don’t leave any spaces within the report that the offending party could slip through to avoid punishment.
Talk to Your Coworkers
It’s a good idea to talk to non-offending coworkers about any discrimination or workplace harassment that you’re experiencing. Don’t use this as an opportunity to gossip or let off steam. Stick to the facts and try to be objective.
This serves multiple purposes. First, if you talk to your fellow employees, you may discover that someone else is also experiencing the same type of discrimination that you are. This may make you feel less isolated and it will be helpful when you’re building your case.
Your fellow employees may also be able to corroborate your story. You can use your coworkers as “evidence” when it’s time to take legal action (or even when you’re making your reports).
Request Your Personnel File
If possible, get a copy of your personnel file from your employer. This will have details about any and all disciplinary problems that you’ve been accused of and performance issues.
Make sure that you use this to turn yourself into a model employee. You don’t want to give your employer a reasonable excuse to fire you or you may have a more difficult time proving that you’re the victim of workplace discrimination.
Prepare for Retaliation
It’s important to keep in mind that retaliation is likely if you accuse an employer or fellow employee of workplace discrimination or harassment. Unless you have the complete support of your entire workplace aside from the offending party, there will be some tension while you wait for justice to be served.
Prepare yourself for this. Consider speaking to a counselor. Try to get support from the other employees so you feel less alone.
Speak to an Attorney
If you can’t handle the problem within the workplace, you may have to talk to an attorney for help. Have a quick consultation with a local attorney who specializes in workplace discrimination so you can determine whether or not you have a viable case.
Your attorney will want to see all of your documented evidence, so bring this to the consultation.
Your attorney will guide you on the next best steps to take to solve your problem. Don’t try to navigate the complicated legal system on your own.
Are You Dealing With Discrimination at Work?
Dealing with discrimination at work is demoralizing. It can turn an otherwise enjoyable job into a nightmare. If you’re suffering from workplace discrimination, it’s time to seek help.
We want to assist you. At Daniel Stark Law, we understand how difficult it can be to speak out against an employer. Contact us so we can assess your case today.