Even if you work in a healthy and positive environment, it’s not out of the question that you could one day become the victim of workplace discrimination. If this happens, it’s critical to take steps to address the problems immediately and protect your legal rights.

While the steps you take may not be exactly the same as another person in a similar situation, here are five to consider:

  • Report the incident to your employer: For example, if your direct supervisor is discriminating against you because you’re pregnant, report it to your HR department. It’s your employer’s responsibility to comply with the law.
  • Follow up with your employer: Simply reporting the act of discrimination isn’t always good enough. You must follow up with your employer to ensure that they’re taking the matter seriously. This helps show that you’re not going to let the issue go away.
  • Keep notes: For example, if you have an email from a supervisor proving that they’re acting in a discriminatory manner, print it out and keep it with the rest of your records. Also, keeping a diary can help strengthen your case, as you’ll be able to provide an accurate depiction of what happened.
  • Read your employee handbook: Shortly before or after reporting the incident, review your employee handbook to better understand your company’s anti-discrimination policy. It should outline the steps of filing a report and what your company will do.
  • Understand the laws that protect you: There are both federal and state laws in place to protect you against workplace discrimination. For example, federal laws include the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If your employer puts you off, you may need to contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file a charge.

It’s often easier to ignore workplace discrimination and hope that it goes away, but this doesn’t always happen. One instance of this behavior could soon lead to another.

If workplace discrimination is hindering your ability to do your job, or you’ve been terminated as a result, it’s critical to take the steps above with the idea of protecting your legal rights and holding your employer responsible for their negligence. An attorney can help you determine your next steps and work to protect your rights.