From sexual harassment to refusal to hire based on religion to workplace retaliation, employment discrimination is a serious issue that can take numerous different forms. Workers may experience discrimination or harassment based on various personal characteristics like race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and so on. Because of this, they need to understand their rights and take legal steps in seeking protection against workplace discrimination. The entire legal process of filing a discrimination claim is time-consuming and complex, and it requires a professional approach. For all these reasons, you should consider getting help from an experienced discrimination lawyer that will walk you through the different phases of your employment discrimination case. This legal professional will tackle all challenges that may appear during your legal process and be your reliable ally in this battle.
This article will show you what services to expect from the discrimination lawyer you hire, depending on the type of discrimination and unequal treatment you are battling against.
But first, let’s see what qualifies as workplace discrimination and what federal legislative bodies and acts protect employees from becoming a discrimination victim.
What the EEOC is and How It Protects Workers from Discrimination
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal legislative body responsible for tackling various discrimination claims and pressing charges against employment discrimination in cases where an off-court settlement is not achievable. This Washington DC-based Commission, established by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, also reinforces various anti-discrimination acts to provide equal pay and equal treatment to American workers. Here are protective acts that fall under the EEOC supervision.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
This title is a cornerstone in protection against workplace discrimination, and it prohibits unfair and unequal treatment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It incites federal contractors to provide equal employment chances to all. This act applies to all companies with 15 or more employees.
Equal Pay Act from 1963
This legislation protects workers from wage discrimination. The Equal Pay Act ensures that equally qualified employees working on the same positions receive equal wages. If you think you have been underpaid compared to your coworker in the same position, this is the law your employment attorney will refer to.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act from 2009
This Fair Pay Law further extends wage discrimination protection by stating that every unequally distributed paycheck represents a separate discrimination case. It also extended the period for filing complaints against wage discrimination based on gender, race, color, and so on.
Attorneys specialized in wage and hour law cases will help you win this discrimination claim. They will also see that you recover all the wages you have earned.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The ADEA protects all workers over 40 from experiencing discriminatory actions in any employment phase, from hiring, promoting, compensation, and wrongful termination. This anti-discrimination law applies to all businesses with more than 25 employees.
The American Disability Act
If you are a qualified worker with a disability, and you have been overlooked for promotion because of this, you should refer to the ADA. Acts I and V of this law focus on protecting the right of workers with disabilities to get hired, promoted, or paid equally for their work.
If you feel you have been a target of any form of workplace discrimination, your legal representative will address one of these protective acts to seek justice and compensation.
Once you decide to file a discrimination complaint to fight for your rights, your employment discrimination lawyer will prepare for every stage of this legal process, ensuring a favorable outcome.
After determining that you have a strong discrimination claim, your employment attorney should take the following steps:
- Decide when to submit discrimination claim
- Provide essential help during the first interview related to your claim
- Provide advice and guidance in gathering firm evidence that will support your claim
- Take you through the EEOC investigation process, which will require your active cooperation.
- Present you with options like mediation that can resolve your discrimination case outside the court
- Prepare a discrimination lawsuit if the EEOC fails to resolve your complaint
You will have 180 days from the discrimination incident to file a complaint. Make sure you and your lawyer use this time wisely and prepare a solid employment discrimination case. This period should be long enough for you to gather all the documentation or statistics you need to support your claim.
How to Prepare for the Legal Process
Your employment lawyer should walk you through the process of filing a discrimination complaint. You can submit your complaint in person in your local EEOC branch or do this online or by mail. Whatever option you choose, you can ask your lawyer to help you complete this task.
Once you have filed your discrimination complaint, the employment lawyer should help you build a strong discrimination case based on relevant evidence. This evidence can be direct, in the form of a verbal or written statement of the employer who committed the discriminatory act, or someone who witnessed the incident.
Providing direct evidence of workplace discrimination will be challenging, especially when employers try to present their unfair decision as a non-discriminatory act. Also, most managers and supervisors will not use offensive language when reasoning their decision. Therefore you will have to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove your case. Here is where an experienced employment discrimination lawyer can provide invaluable help. If you want to make sure you have a solid discrimination case, you have to prove that your manager or supervisor has mistreated you because of your race, religion, gender, disability.
Once you prove you are a member of a protected class, you and your lawyer may proceed in proving that you have experienced an unequal treatment at work.
What Can Your Discrimination Lawyer Do During the EEOC Investigation?
The EEOC will conduct a thorough investigation to check all the allegations and evidence from your discrimination complaint. They may visit you at work, require additional documents, review the existing records, or conduct interviews with your coworkers or management. This may be the crucial stage of this complex legal process. Therefore, professional legal guidance is a must during the EEOC investigation.
The EEOC will suggest mediation as a way to resolve your discrimination complaint. Mediation between you and your employer may lead to a settlement, and your attorney should present to you all advantages and disadvantages of this option. Besides, discrimination lawyers should be able to decide whether the discrimination case is strong enough to go to court or if you should settle.
In case the settlement trough mediation is not an option, the EEOC will continue their investigation until the final resolution of the employment discrimination claim.
What Kind of Resolution Can You Expect?
After the EEOC investigation is over, this legislative body has to reach the decision on your discrimination complaint. If they decide in your favor, you can expect some form of compensation. This can include various measures. You may get back pay or front pay, get promoted, or reinstated in your position. You may also receive financial compensation for emotional distress damages you suffered due to the discriminatory act. These are all favorable outcomes your legal representative should prepare you for.
On the other hand, the EEOC may not be able to resolve your discrimination case. If this happens, you will get an additional 90 days to prepare a discrimination lawsuit with your employment lawyer.
A Short Recapitulation
Fortunately, there are laws prohibiting employment discrimination. But as you can see, when you decide to file an employment discrimination claim, you start a time-consuming and complex legal process. For this reason, you may need the professional help of a discrimination lawyer.
These legal professionals will introduce you to every stage of the process and provide invaluable advice and guidance. You may consider discrimination lawyers as faithful allies in your battle against the unfair treatment at work. When you decide to file a discrimination claim to protect your rights, don’t hesitate to ask experienced lawyers from Cilenti&Cooper wage and hour law firm for help.