For many people, the workplace is practically a second home, sometimes where we spend more time than at our “real” home. It’s a place where you should feel safe and comfortable. Unfortunately, some people experience discrimination in the workplace, affecting their ability to be productive, comfortable and safe. Discrimination not only hurts the employee but also hurts the company. Discrimination is usually thought of as a civil rights issue, but it can have the same economic impact as a personal injury case (for example, lost wages, emotional trauma, medical bills, relationship stress, etc.). If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination, talk to a licensed lawyer who can evaluate your case, work to recover your losses and help put a stop to the discriminatory conduct.
Discrimination Prohibited Under Federal Law
Federal law prohibits workplace discrimination in a wide range of categories. Discrimination based on any of the following categories may be illegal and may entitle you to recover for losses you incur as a result:
- Equal Pay/Compensation
- Genetic Information
- National Origin
- Retaliation (aka Whistleblower Protection)
- Sexual Harassment
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal discrimination laws, including laws commonly known as Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) and GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act). You can learn about each of these laws by visiting the EEOC’s website or by talking to an experienced discrimination or personal injury attorney.
Discrimination Prohibited Under State Law
In addition to federal antidiscrimination laws, states and local governments may enact their own antidiscrimination laws to give their citizens additional protection. For example, almost half of the states offer additional protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Some states also expand age discrimination protection by prohibiting discrimination in any age range (the federal age discrimination statute only prohibits discrimination of people age 40 or older). If you have suffered discrimination that may not be protected by federal law, you still should consult an attorney who can evaluate your situation in light of state and local antidiscrimination laws.
Discrimination Costs and Settlements
The following statistics are from the EEOC for Fiscal Year 2011 and will give you some idea of how pervasive and how costly discrimination can be. The monetary benefits listed below do not include money obtained through litigation.
- Age Discrimination: 23,465 claims; Monetary Benefits: $95Million
- Disability Discrimination: 25,742 claims; Monetary Benefits: $103Million
- Equal Pay/Compensation Discrimination: 919 claims; Monetary Benefits: $23Million
- National Origin Discrimination: 11,833 claims; Monetary Benefits: $34Million
- Pregnancy Discrimination: 5,797 claims; Monetary Benefits: $17Million
- Race/Color Discrimination: 35,395 claims; Monetary Benefits: $83Million
- Religious Discrimination: 4,151 claims; Monetary Benefits: $12Million
- Sex-Based Discrimination: 28,534 claims; Monetary Benefits: $145Million
- Sexual Harassment Discrimination: 11,364 claims; Monetary Benefits: $52Million