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Workplace Discrimination Law

What constitutes discrimination at work?

Any type of discrimination may qualify for a workplace discrimination suit if it affects the following: hiring decisions, advancements or promotions, compensations and benefits, salary increases and other incentives, job assignments, training, employment termination, retrenchment or layoffs. While the law provides protection against workplace discrimination, the legalities involved in proving discrimination lead to uncertainties and questions. Below are five of the most frequent workplace discrimination questions answered by the Lawyers on JustAnswer.

What does the EEOC have to do with a workplace discrimination charge?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. The law provides that any employee that has complained against direct discrimination should have protection against retaliation from either the employer or other employees. Furthermore, the law protects employees against direct or indirect punishment for issuing a complaint, assisting to file a complaint or opposing this prohibited practice.

When a workplace discrimination charge is filed against an employer or an employee, the EEOC investigates all of the above aspects. The EEOC may interview both parties and other co-workers to try and gain the evidence they need to proceed with charges.

What type of evidence does a person need to prove racial discrimination?

When a person is discriminated against based on certain racial characteristics like skin color, hair or eye color, and other features of a certain race, the following may be required as evidence to prove a racial discrimination claim:

Unequal treatment: Proof that an employee has been subjected to discrimination on the basis of his/her ethnicity, skin color, race or other similar characteristics.

Brunt impact: Proof that discrimination occurred intentionally. Intentional racial discrimination can be from the individual making the hiring decision or from the employment policies issued by the employer, as long as it has an adverse effect resulting from some or all of the following: The employee's race, skin color, ethnicity and other similar characteristics.

The evidence required and legal recourse available to individuals faced with discrimination may also be dependent on circumstances and the state you reside in. It is often advisable to ask an Employment Lawyer if you are unsure of your situation.

Does the law prohibit workplace discrimination based on past criminal records?

The laws for workplace discrimination protect employees and employers from physical, mental, racial, sexual, age, religious, and nationality discrimination. In most cases, workplace discrimination does not cover discrimination against past criminal record. However, if coworkers discuss another employee’s lifestyle and make false statements, this may be considered slander, though it may not qualify as workplace discrimination.

Can an employer discriminate based on past criminal records after hiring an employee?

If an employer discriminates against an employee based on past criminal record after they have been hired, the employee may have a basis for legal action. Whether the employer was aware of the past criminal record at the time of hiring may also have an impact. An employer usually cannot make decisions based on a criminal record unless it is at the time of hiring a new employee with a past criminal record that could pose a risk to the employer.

An employer may discriminate based on a criminal record when:

  1. The employee's record directly relates to the employment; OR
  2. Employing the employee would create unreasonable risks to property or individuals in the workplace.

When faced with a situation like this, the employee may have to prove that changes in employment were the result of discrimination.

If a less-qualified male employee is promoted because of threats of slowdowns made to the promotion decision-maker if a female is promoted, would it be a case of sexual workplace discrimination?

If an employer’s decision is influenced by gender based discrimination at work, you can consider pursuing the claim for injuries caused. Discrimination against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of sex in decisions that concern hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, job training, or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment, is considered unlawful by most courts, if such discrimination can be proved.

Even when laws are in place to protect individuals against workplace discrimination, the onus is usually on the employee to prove the discrimination. Circumstances can give rise to many difficult questions and can leave individuals uncertain of their rights and the legal course of action available to them. If you are faced with such a situation, you can ask an Employment Lawyer on JustAnswer. The answers and insights you get can help you determine the best course of action available to you.

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