The realization that you’ve been a victim of discrimination may not come all at once. At first, the events might be so subtle that you could think you were imagining things. As time progresses and additional exchanges take place, you will slowly see what’s really going on.
Discrimination can come from another employee, a supervisor, an executive, an owner, a vendor, a client or a customer. All forms of discrimination are against the law and must not be allowed in the workplace. Here are some points to remember about workplace discrimination of all sorts:
Fight against the discrimination
There are never acceptable reasons for discrimination. You do have options that you can exercise when this happens. You don’t have to sit back and accept the abuse.
- File a complaint with your employer: Many companies have firm rules against discrimination of any sort. When you alert them, be as detailed as you can about what’s going on. This gives them a chance to address the issues before you take further action. They might correct the issue without your having to do anything else. However, some employers won’t do anything about these situations.
- Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: When an employer doesn’t do anything about a discrimination complaint, the employee can contact the EEOC to file a complaint with this federal agency. You must do this before you can take any other legal action.
When the EEOC has to act
If you have to turn to the EEOC to resolve the matter, you will have to file a Charge of Discrimination. The agency will alert your employer about the filing. You can’t take too long to file your claim because there are strict time limits in these cases. Typically, this is 180 days from the last event but could be longer in some cases. The exception is that federal employees have only 45 days to contact a counselor with the EEOC.
Remember, these time limits include the time that you take to try to work out other resolutions, so don’t let your employer waste this time. If you don’t hear back about your claim in a reasonable time, assume that you will need to take the next step.
Even if you file a complaint with the EEOC, you can still pursue other methods of resolution. The important thing is that you do whatever is necessary legally to make the discrimination stop.