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How to Recognize Workplace Discrimination


How to Recognize Workplace Discrimination

Despite federal and state laws created to protect workers against discrimination in the past 60 years, employment discrimination is an illegal practice that has yet to become an anomaly.

Discrimination can manifest in a company’s hiring and firing practices, be embedded in its culture and policies, and/or make itself known in how supervisors and other employees treat others on a day-to-day basis. In any of these situations, discrimination can be so overt that it’s easy to spot or so hidden that it goes unnoticed or difficult to challenge in court.

No matter how it happens or how much an employer tries to conceal its existence, workplace discrimination may not be as difficult to see once employees know how to recognize it.

A basic method that can help employees affirm their experience is to consider the following:

  • Am I a member of a protected class?
  • Did I experience mistreatment because I am a member of a protected class?

If you believe both are true, you may wish to contact an employment law attorney immediately to explore your legal options.

Protected Classes at the Federal & State Levels

Protected classes are sometimes also referred to as protected characteristics. These are qualities that can be attributed to a person that cannot legally factor into employment decisions or how an employee is treated at work.

Federally protected classes form the basis that all 50 states must abide by, but each is free to expand this list by adding other qualities that cannot be discriminated against in their territories. If you are experiencing mistreatment at work that’s based on any of the reasons below, you may be able to hold your employer accountable in a lawsuit.

Federally protected characteristics include the following:

  • Race
  • Skin color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and associated medical conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity)
  • Disability status
  • Age (if 40 or older)
  • Citizenship status
  • Genetic information

Under California law, the following characteristics are additionally protected from workplace discrimination:

  • Ancestry
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity and expression
  • AIDS/HIV status
  • Medical conditions
  • Political activities or affiliations
  • Military or veteran status
  • Victim of domestic violence, assault, or stalking

Mistreatment & Adverse Employment Actions

This is the part of the equation that can frustrate those who have experienced discrimination at work because it deals with what happened and the motivation behind someone’s actions. Employees who seek to hold employers accountable for discrimination have a dual challenge of proving that they not only experienced mistreatment, but that it was unlawful because it discriminates them as a member of a protected class.

Such can be a challenge for an employee who was fired for missing too much work because he needed to observe religious holidays, or for someone living with a disability whose employer claims certain accommodations she requested were not reasonable.

Mistreatment and adverse employment actions can include:

  • Firing
  • Demotion
  • Reduction in pay or hours
  • Harassment (including sexual harassment)
  • Threats
  • Company policies that inherently target against certain classes
  • Denial of qualified Family Medical Leave Act leave
  • Refusal to hire
  • Exclusion from advancement opportunities
  • Selective enforcement of company policies

Contact Us for Help

If you recognize that you may be a victim of discrimination in the workplace, contact K2 Employment Law Group to learn more about legal options that may be available to you. We can help you validate your claim and move forward with the process of holding your employer accountable for violating your rights at work.

Successful plaintiffs can get what they deserve by seeking fair and just compensation in the form of damages against their employers. If you believe that you should be compensated for unlawful mistreatment at work, reach out to us today for a complimentary consultation.

Contact K2 Employment Law Group online or by calling (800) 590-7674 today and request to schedule your FREE consultation with one of our attorneys!