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5 ways to arm yourself against workplace discrimination

Published On: Aug 27 2013 10:55:18 AM CDT
disgusted annoyed office worker

iStock / ferrantraite

By attorney Stefanie Moon, Special to THELAW.TV

Workplace discrimination can take many forms. It is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

No matter what type of discrimination you may be subject to, there are five important things you should know to protect yourself, your job, and your money:

1. Record: Keep a record of everything that happens as it happens. Write down details about who, what, when, where and how the discrimination occurred. If the discriminatory actions are witnessed by anyone, write down the name and position of the witness. Contemporaneous records may be admissible evidence in later litigation.

2. Inform: Inform your company's human resources department about what is happening to you. It is important to put the company on notice that workplace discrimination is occurring. Be sure to give details about how the discrimination is impacting your ability to do your job.

3. Follow-up: Make an appointment with the human resources representative to discuss any corrective action the company takes to address your concerns. Tell the human resources representative if the situation has changed and how. If the situation has gotten worse, you may have an additional claim of retaliation.

4. Legitimate: Follow all company rules. Make sure you arrive on time, do your work and keep a low profile. At this time, you must be careful that any claim you make is not tainted by bad behavior at work.

5. Examination: Take your case to a licensed attorney who knows the area of employment law. The attorney will likely ask a lot of questions that only you can answer. The attorney knows the law; but you know the facts. Together, you can resolve the situation in the way that is best for you.

Anti- discrimination laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages and benefits. If you believe that you have been subject to workplace discrimination, go speak with a licensed attorney who knows the area of employment law. Generally, you only have 180 days to file a charge of discrimination against a private employer. So remember, timing is important.

The author, Stefanie Moon, is a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., business litigation and white collar criminal defense attorney.

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