Even though there has been an increase in awareness campaigns focused on curtailing workplace discrimination, they haven’t been effective as many hoped. In fact, every day workers are subjected to discriminatory behavior that makes them uncomfortable and fearful in their positions, and many suffer adverse employment actions based on their status in a protected class or out of retaliation for reporting workplace discrimination.
This is completely unacceptable. If you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace, then you need to be prepared to take action. But what does that action look like?
How should you handle workplace discrimination?
Being discriminated against in the workplace can be an emotional event. You’ve worked hard to get where you are and now it’s all being threatened. That can certainly be stressful, but the good news is that you can take action to protect yourself and your career.
Here are some steps that you’ll want to take if you think that you’ve been subjected to workplace discrimination:
- Create a timeline: Recalling specific incidences of discriminatory behavior can be challenging, especially if it’s been ongoing for some time. Your timeline of when the discrimination occurred in conjunction with an adverse employment action can get fuzzy over time, too. That’s why you may find it beneficial to keep a written record of the discriminatory events that you face, the action you took, and how your employer responded. This timeline can help firm up any potential legal action that you take.
- Review your employer’s anti-discrimination policy: Your employer should have one of these policies. By reviewing it, you can gain a better sense of your employer’s expectations and reporting procedures. You’ll also want to keep a copy of the current policy in case your employer suddenly changes it. This might give you a better opportunity to argue how the policy applicable in your case was insufficient.
- Report the discriminatory behavior to your employer: Reporting the problematic behavior is key to your case. Your employer should specify to whom these reports must be made, but even if there is no indication in your employer’s anti-discrimination policy, you should still report it to your employer’s HR department. When you do so, make sure to clearly indicate that the behavior in question is unacceptable and that you won’t tolerate such discrimination. If you’re uncomfortable being that firm with your employer, then you might need legal assistance to help you in sending a clear message.
- Find an outlet: Coping with workplace discrimination can be enormously stressful. As you navigate your claims process, you might also find yourself anxious, depressed, and fearful. This is understandable given the circumstances. You might be able to find relief for those emotions by seeking out support. Turning to family members and friends might be helpful, but there are other options, too, such as finding a support group or turning to a mental health professional. You need to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself during this difficult time.
Are you ready to hold your employer accountable?
You don’t have to accept a negative employment action that your employer takes against you if it’s based on discrimination or if it’s a form of retaliation for reporting workplace discrimination. However, your employer is going to be prepared to argue that its action was justified based on poor performance or absenteeism.
Therefore, you’ll need to be prepared to not only present evidence of discrimination or retaliation, but you’ll also want to be ready to defend your work history. So, as you prepare to build and present your claim, take the time needed to build the comprehensive legal strategy necessary to position yourself for success.