Do you feel that you face discrimination in the workplace? Are you being bullied or pushed out of your job unfairly? A number of employees in Indiana, ranging from junior staff to those in the upper management find themselves in this situation.
Common Harassment Issues in the Workplace
While no two discrimination or harassment cases are exactly the same, there are certain common issues that can arise such as:
- Hostile Work Environment – Is a supervisor or co-worker making your job unbearable? Just because the demands of a job are hard, does not mean that you are being harassed or discriminated against, or that your work environment is hostile. You must ask yourself if you are being treated differently because you are a member of a protected class. That is to say, are they doing this to me because of my gender, race, age, national origin, or because of a disability?
- Unequal Pay – Are you being paid less than your counterparts simply because of your gender? For example, are you a woman being paid less than your similarly situated male colleague for the same amount of work.
- Unusual Work Demands – Is your employer asking you to do work that is not being demanded of your co-workers simply because of your race or national origin? This may be discrimination.
If you feel you are experiencing discrimination or harassment on the basis of your race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, age (over 40) or pregnancy, you should talk to an experienced employment law attorney immediately. There are laws that protect employees from this type of harassment and discrimination, and you should know and understand your rights.
Most companies encourage an open and inclusive work culture. However, many people are afraid to speak up or report discriminatory behavior for fear of being retaliated against. Federal laws also protect employees from retaliation if they speak truthfully and report abuses, or participate in an investigation.
Some examples of the many Federal and State laws that protect employees in Indiana include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964)- This prohibits discrimination because of color, race, religion, national origin or sex;
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967)(“ADEA”)- This act prohibits the age discrimination of individuals over 40;
- Civil Service Reform Act (1978)- This act prohibits discrimination by any Federal employers on the basis of color, race, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, and political affiliation;
- Sections 1981 through 1988 of Title 42 of the United States Code;
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)- The act prohibits discrimination against any qualified individuals with disabilities;
- The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act;
Indiana Age Discrimination Act, IC 22-9-2-1, et seq.;
- Indiana Civil Rights Law, IC 22-9-1-1, et seq.;
- Indiana Minimum Wage Law, IC 22-2-2-1, et seq., including the Indiana Equal Pay Act;
- Indiana Employment Discrimination Against Disabled Persons Act, IC 22-9-5-1, et seq.;
- Indiana State Wage Payment and Work Hours Laws, including IC 22-2-4-1 et seq., IC 22-2-5-1, et seq., and IC 22-2-9-1, et seq.;
- Indiana Family Military Leave Law, IC 22-2-13-1, et seq.
Discrimination in the Workplace – Points to Consider
Every case is different, but if you feel that you are being discriminated against in your workplace, you must first follow your employer’s procedures to notify the employer and give them the opportunity to take corrective action. If that is not successful, then the next step may be filing a Charge of Discrimination with a Federal or State agency that enforces the existing labor laws allegedly being violated. Some of the vital points to consider are:
- Know your rights- Make it a point to know your employer’s policies are on harassment, and discrimination, as well as their procedures for making a complaint. This will give you a clearer idea about whether your company is treating you unfairly.
- Maintain records- Maintain a detailed record of emails, conversations and times as well as events related to your unfair treatment. This evidence may later be vital in proving your claim.
- Seek advice from experts- An experienced Indiana discrimination lawyer will be able to provide a free phone consultation and can give you basic information about your rights and whether you actually have a case.
- Don’t resign abruptly- While it can be very tempting to just walk out and then bring a case, you may waive potential claims if you just resign voluntarily. Always consult with an attorney and know what you may be giving up before you voluntarily leave your employment.
- Act without delay- If your feel that you have been the victim of harassment or discrimination, or that you have been wrongfully terminated due to retaliation or discrimination, there are deadlines for making a claim. The time to file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is usually 180 days from the date the last discrimination occurred. However, this deadline can be extended to 300 days if the charge is covered by a local/state anti-discrimination laws. In almost all cases, you are first required to file your Charge of Discrimination with the agency that enforces the applicable law before you can file a lawsuit. This process is known as “exhausting your administrative remedies.”