Employment discrimination can happen in any workplace. It can be overt or subtle and it can take many forms, such as gender bias, racial prejudice or ageism.
The state of New York and federal laws protect employees against unequal treatment, harassment and toxic work environments.
What steps should you take?
When you face hostility at work, the easy thing to do is quit your job. However, leaving voluntarily only reinforces illegal practices of bad employers. To build a strong case for discrimination:
- Keep performing at a high standard: follow all procedures and do not give your employers a reason to terminate you
- Maintain detailed records: keep copies of emails and other communications that document discriminatory language or behavior
- Make a formal complaint: take your report and evidence to your supervisor and/or human resources (HR) department and follow up to ensure management takes appropriate action
When should you take legal action?
If the discrimination you face is blatant, like outright racism, sexism or sexual harassment, then you may have a cause for immediate action. If you are working to address the problem through internal processes before filing a lawsuit, then you should remain aware of the 180-day federal statute of limitations on workplace discrimination claims.
If the prejudiced action continues and the case you present to HR goes nowhere, then you likely will not receive support from your company. You may even face retaliation for causing problems.
You deserve fair and equal treatment and at work. Therefore, it is important to understand how to recognize and address discrimination when it happens to you.