Can you Seek Legal Action if You Feel You’ve Been the Victim of Discrimination?
If you feel that you’ve been singled out in a way that is unfair, or that you’ve been kept from certain benefits or abilities based upon some identifiable characteristic, then you may have been the victim of discrimination. Discrimination can take many forms and can occur in many different situations, and some of them are illegal.
Federal civil rights law makes it against the law to discriminate against a person based upon several different characteristics, and so do many state and local laws. The characteristics can include age, ethnicity, gender, disability, or marital status. Other categories that cannot be used as a basis for treating a person differently are national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, and sexual orientation.
Discrimination occurs on the job, and in other environments as well. People can find themselves unfairly blocked from buying or renting a home where they want to live, from being admitted to a school. These and other forms of discrimination are illegal, and if they happen to you, you may have a right to seek legal action.
If you suspect that you are being discriminated against or being harassed in the workplace, there are a number of actions you can take.
- Let your employer know what is happening. Though they may not take action, they are legally responsible for your protection, so alerting them to a problem they may not be aware of is always the first step.
- Make sure that you document everything that has happened. Keep a journal of conversations and actions including dates and times and who was present when discriminatory or harassing behavior occurred, and if there is any paperwork or documentation (including electronic records such as emails or texts), keep them in a safe place. Also, get a copy of your company’s anti-discrimination policy.
- When you alert your supervisor or human resources representative of what is happening, make sure that they document it and ask that they investigate it. They are legally required to do so, and if they fail to then they can be held legally responsible.
- If your employer does not take appropriate action, or if they punish you for speaking up in your own behalf, you can contact the federal, state or local agency responsible for protecting against discrimination and harassment.
- Contact an attorney who is familiar with employment law.
If you believe that you have been treated unfairly based on being a member of a protected group, you may be able to pursue legal action in order to secure the same rights and treatment as everybody else. Contact our office today to learn about how we can help.