There are Laws that Protect Employees from any Form of Discrimination and Retaliation
“The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered.
The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.”
The EEOC was passed into law by the United States Congress in 1964; its primary task is to uphold and protect the rights of all individuals in the U.S. to equal employment opportunities by enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, a federal mandate that illegalizes any form of workplace discrimination.
Though many discriminatory practices in the workplace have already been exposed and many of those complained of and found guilty, including employer, co-worker or client, have been brought to justice, the fight to finally stop workplace discrimination is still far from being won. Employees should bear in mind that no EEO law violation will be exposed and no violator will be held liable if everyone, especially the victims of discriminatory practices, will keep silent.
Well, truth is, not complaining will not make matters worse and keeping silent will keep unaffected employees safe – as long as they do not become the target of discriminatory practices. However, employees should be aware that the very laws which protect them from discrimination and harassment also protect them from retaliatory acts. The EEOC, besides enforcing Title VII, also prohibits punishing employees and job applicants who assert their right to be free from harassment and all forms of employment discrimination. Asserting one’s EEO rights is legally called “protected activity,” and it can take many forms, including:
- Filing or witnessing in an EEO charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit;
- Informing a supervisor or manager about discriminatory practices, including harassment, in the workplace;
- Answering questions during an employer investigation regarding alleged harassment;
- Refusing to follow orders aimed at discriminating anyone;
- Resisting sexual advances or intervening to protect a co-employee;
- Requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice;
- Asking a manager or co-workers about salary information to uncover possible discrimination on wages; and,
- Participating in a complaint process, or opposing discrimination.
While discriminatory and retaliatory acts (such as denial of a promotion or a raise, demotion, being fired from work, reduction in salary and/or bad referencing) are obvious, some are made with subtlety to make them least apparent, like change in work shift or job relocation.
The John Melton Law Firm strongly emphasizes the illegality of discriminating or retaliating against workers who exercise their rights. Proving someone guilty of any of these illegal practices can be difficult, however, especially without help from a skillful and experienced discrimination or retaliation lawyer. Thus, having legal help, especially in the filing of a legal complaint, may prove greatly advantageous, considering the fact that even the filing a complaint has a statutory limit.