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Worker Discrimination and Retaliation Complaints

K Altman Law helps workers facing discrimination in the workplace.

Employees file thousands of discrimination complaints each year. Many others fail to report the discrimination they experience at work. No formal complaints are filed and no HR complaints are made. Three out of four employees who face harassment at work don’t report it to their manager, union representative, or other supervisors, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Several studies show that only one percent of harassed employees who face workplace discrimination actually take action by filing a complaint against their employer!

Types of Discrimination Complaints

As reported by the EEOC, workers filed 119,854 complaints of workplace discrimination in fiscal year 2020, despite underreporting of harassment and discrimination at work. Data at the EEOC is categorized according to the characteristics of the complainant. The breakdown includes disability, national origin, race, sex, gender, age, color, and religion as bases for protection under anti-discrimination laws. According to the EEOC, retaliation claims constituted 55.8% of all charges filed in fiscal year 2020, making them the most common. Because discrimination claims require employee complaints and opposition to discrimination at work, allegations of retaliation often accompany discrimination claims. Since these types of claims overlap and workers may have multiple identifying characteristics that entitle them to protection, the total percentage of the types of claims asserted exceeds 100%.

Disability discrimination claims were 36.1% of all workplace discrimination claims in fiscal year 2020, following retaliation claims. COVID-19 pandemic may have led to even greater increases in disability-related charges in fiscal year 2020.. On a periodic basis, the EEOC updates its guidance on the impact of COVID-19 on workplace discrimination laws. Race-based discrimination accounted for 32.7% of claims, and sex discrimination accounted for 31.7%.

The breakdown by category is consistent with filing patterns from previous years. According to a study performed by the Center for Employment Equity of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the EEOC (or a comparable state agency) received over 8,000 discrimination complaints from 2012 to 2016. According to the report, most discrimination complaints were related to disability or race, and disability-related claims were more frequent than charges under other protected categories. Staff at the Center for Employment Equity found that 63% of those who filed complaints lost their jobs as a result of their complaints.

Workers Are Protected from Retaliation in the Workplace

In light of the data from the EEOC and the Center for Employment Equity, it becomes clear that employees who complain about discrimination face the possibility of retaliation by their employers, which, at its worst, results in the loss of their job. Retaliation against employees who complain about workplace discrimination is illegal. Fortunately, there are legal protections for these employees.

An employee who takes part in an investigation of workplace discrimination is prohibited from receiving retaliation, as is an employee who complains about workplace discrimination or opposes workplace discrimination. These employees cannot be subjected to a “materially adverse action” by their employer. Actions such as these discourage a reasonable worker from coming forward with a complaint about discrimination. A demotion or salary reduction falls within this category. In addition to current and future employees, the law covers former employees and third parties with a close relationship with the discriminated employee. In some cases, employees facing retaliation for reporting discrimination at work may be entitled to financial compensation, including back wages and reinstatement to their former position, compensation for emotional distress caused by the employer’s actions, and reimbursement for their attorneys’ fees and costs.

It is unfortunate that workplace discrimination and harassment can sometimes lead to retaliation. An employment lawyer can help you determine your options and how to proceed if you have been victimized by discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Legal Counsel for Workplace Discrimination

Employees who have filed discrimination charges with the EEOC will face another reality, according to the Center for Employment Equity’s analysis. By excluding charges that were closed due to administrative reasons and analyzing the outcome of each charge, it was found that monetary benefits and changes in workplace practices were relatively rare. Employees received monetary benefits less than 20% of the time. Employer practices were changed less than 10% of the time. Those who filed discrimination complaints and were able to resolve them with their employers prior to filing charges are not included in this data.

It is clear from the data that filing discrimination charges has poor outcomes, demonstrating the importance of seeking legal counsel if you believe you have faced discrimination at work. Having an attorney on your side can help you determine the strength of your claim, as well as when the proper deadlines are to file a lawsuit. They can also handle your communications with the employer before and after you file a charge of discrimination. Such advocacy may prevent retaliation against current employees or enable them to leave their employers with more favorable terms. To help your case, you can take other steps in addition to seeking legal counsel:

  • Keep a record of your mistreatment.

  • Develop a detailed timeline of the instances of discrimination that may be used by an attorney to assess your potential claim.

  • Documents related to employment, such as employee manuals, employment offer letters and agreements, and details about commissions, equity, and benefits plans, should be kept.

  • You should not record conversations without the consent of the other party and without first seeking legal advice. Recording laws vary from state to state, some requiring consent from all parties or at least one party. These laws can carry civil and sometimes criminal penalties, so it is essential not to violate them.

An employment attorney can advise you if you have been discriminated against at work. Contact Attorney Keith Altman now to discuss your worker discrimination matter at 248-987-8929 or email him at SD@kaltmanlaw.com. We protect employees’ rights in California and throughout the United States.

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