San Francisco discrimination lawyers have some tips for employees who are dealing with workplace discrimination
Employees who believe they have been affected by discrimination in the workplace may have a legal remedy. Before pursuing that remedy, however, there are steps an employee might want to take. In some instances, there are actions an employee must take to preserve the right to seek a legal remedy. The San Francisco discrimination lawyers at Minnis & Smallets offer the following tips to employees who suspect that employment discrimination has occurred.
Identify the Decision-Maker
Discrimination in the workplace usually means that an employer is treating an employee less favorably than others because of that employee’s protected characteristic, such as sex or gender, age, disability, race, sexual orientation or religion. “Disparate treatment” discrimination is oftentimes committed by someone in management who has the authority to fire employees or to affect wages, promotions, job assignments, and other terms of employment.
Identifying the person who made an adverse employment decision will help the employee decide whether the decision was discriminatory. Questions an employee might ask include:
- Has the decision-maker made disparaging comments about people in the protected class?
- Did the decision-maker treat the employee less favorably than employees who are not part of the same protected class?
- Does the decision-maker have a history of treating employees in the protected class less favorably than other employees?
In some cases, the person who made the decision might have been influenced by someone else. For example, the employee’s immediate supervisor might have given the employee an unfavorable performance review because of the employee’s membership in a protected class, and the decision-maker may have demoted or terminated the employee in reliance on the unfair review. The employee should consider the same questions about the supervisor to clarify whether the adverse decision was influenced by bias against members of the protected class.
Identify the Source of Harassment
Workplace discrimination can also consist of harassment that is based on an employee’s membership in a protected class. Sexual and racial harassment are examples of harassment that is prohibited in the workplace.
To decide how to proceed when harassment is suspected, an employee should identify the source of the harassment. Employees may have greater protection when the harassment is committed by the employee’s supervisor, who is in a position of authority over the employee and can control the terms and conditions of employment. For example, an employee who is fired after declining a manager’s sexual advance should seek immediate assistance from a San Francisco discrimination lawyer.
Not all acts of workplace harassment are treated the same under the law. An employer may be automatically responsible for harassment committed by a supervisor. However, when harassment is initiated by co-workers, an employee may need to report the harassment to the employer and to give the employer a chance to correct the problem before the employee can pursue a legal remedy. Employees who experience workplace harassment may want to obtain legal advice from an employment discrimination attorney in San Francisco before deciding how to address the problem.
Understand Your Employer’s Harassment Policy
Many employers have implemented a policy that allows employees to report sexual harassment or harassment based on other protected characteristics. That policy may appear in an employee handbook or it may have been provided to employees as a separate document.
It is important to read and understand the policy. In most cases, the policy will ask employees to report harassment to a specific person, by name or title, or to a specific department, such as Human Resources. An employee who experiences workplace harassment will often find it advantageous to follow the employer’s reporting policy. When in doubt, however, the employee should obtain advice from a San Francisco discrimination lawyer before deciding how to proceed.
Request an Accommodation
Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities and certain religious practices. An employee is not usually entitled to an accommodation, however, without asking for one.
Whether an accommodation is reasonable depends on the circumstances, including the type of accommodation requested, the resources of the employer, and whether the employer has provided similar accommodations to other employees. A San Francisco lawyer who handles discrimination in the workplace can advise employees about the kind of accommodation they might expect to receive.
Choose a Strategy
Current employees who suspect that they have been discriminated against in the workplace typically have multiple options to consider. Reporting the discrimination to an employer, especially if the employer has a discrimination or harassment policy, may sometimes be the best option under the circumstances.
However, when an employee has been terminated, it may be appropriate to take other action, such as negotiating a severance with the employer, engaging an attorney, or filing a claim with a state or federal agency that investigates employment discrimination.
Each option has advantages and disadvantages. In some cases, the law requires employees to take a particular action, or to take certain actions in a particular order. Legal advice from a San Francisco discrimination attorney can help employees determine the best response under the circumstances.
Discrimination issues may sometimes be resolved after the employee puts the employer on notice of the problem, such as by making a complaint to human resources. .An employee who makes such a complaint in writing gives the employer an opportunity to investigate the complaint and to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the discrimination does not continue.
Whether an employee makes an internal complaint or files a claim with an administrative or government agency, it may be important to act promptly. Delay in making a complaint may allow the harmful situation to continue or cause an employer to wonder why the employee did not come forward sooner. In some cases, delay can also bar the employee from filing a discrimination claim, as the time limit for filing those claims may be relatively short.
Talk to a Lawyer
A San Francisco discrimination lawyer is in the best position to advise Bay Area employees about their rights and options when they suspect that workplace discrimination has occurred. To learn more about dealing with workplace discrimination, call 1-415-551-0885 or submit our online contact form.