You'd think that blatant racism, sexism or discrimination based on someone's religion or disability would long be a thing of the past -- but it happens all the time.
Most people have no idea what to do, either, once they're faced with it. This is your step-by-step guide.
- Talk to an attorney that's experienced with workplace discrimination issues. New Jersey, in particular, is a highly progressive state that offers workers more rights than they're even guaranteed under federal laws. An attorney can give you a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, information on how to (legally) gather evidence to support your position and guide you through the next steps of the process.
- You have 180 days after you discover the discrimination to contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal anti-discrimination watchdog agency, and make a charge. This will set in motion a series of events that you need to be prepared to handle because your employer will be notified within 10 days that the charge has been filed. (That's also why it's smart to talk to an attorney before you file the charge -- evidence of discrimination sometimes has a way of vanishing after a charge is filed.)
- The EEOC will then formally investigate your employer to see if it can "find cause," or supporting evidence, that backs up the allegations you've made. If so, the agency will try to get you and your employer to reconcile without heading into court.
- If the EEOC decides that there is "no cause" for your complaint that doesn't mean that your claim is lost. It simply means that the EEOC can't find enough evidence to clearly make the call. You then have the right to ask the EEOC to review the evidence and redetermine its finding.
- If conciliation fails or the EEOC still cannot "find cause" for your complaint, the agency will then issue you a letter explaining your right to take your employer to court over the issue. However, you'll only be given 90 days to file your civil claim -- which is, again, a good reason to already have an experienced attorney working with you on the case.
Discrimination in the workplace is unfortunate but real -- if you've been victimized, turn the tables in your favor by contacting an attorney today.
Source: FIndLaw, "What to Expect: An EEOC Cause of Action Chronology," accessed Oct. 19, 2017