Chances are that work is the place where you spend many of your waking hours. Even if you love the job you do, the workplace is not always where you want to be. You might also agree that the more pleasant the work environment, the more productive you are and the more satisfied you feel on the job. However, if your boss or coworkers treat you unfairly, the workplace can be a nightmare to endure day after day.
Unfair treatment in the workplace that stems from your inclusion or affiliation with certain protected classes is called discrimination. Laws in Florida, DC and other states, as well as federal laws, protect citizens from discrimination based on their race, gender, religious affiliation, disabilities, sexual orientation and other factors. If you feel your employer is discriminating against you, you will want to learn all you can about your rights.
Before you are hired
Employment discrimination can begin long before you sign a contract. Advertisements for jobs may not indicate a preference for people of a certain sex, age, color or other factors. It is also illegal for an employer to recruit workers from certain protected classes to the exclusion of others.
If you make it past the application process and obtain a job interview, be aware of the questions a potential employer asks. Any inquiries or tests must relate to the job itself and not to your protected status. This would be a violation of your rights.
Discrimination on the job
Workplace discrimination can be subtle, so if you suspect your employer is treating you unfairly, you would be wise to keep careful records of any actions that seem discriminatory. Some examples may include any of the following based solely on your protected status:
- Assigning you to the least desirable shifts or work locations
- Giving preference over you to less qualified employees
- Skipping over you for promotions or training opportunities
- Paying you less than other employees or denying you raises or promotions you have earned
- Denying you benefits you deserve, such as insurance, overtime, sick leave or vacation days
- Unfairly disciplining you for actions others take with impunity
- Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations for your religious practices or disabilities
- Demoting or terminating you, or creating an intolerable environment that forces you to quit
You have the right to a safe workplace free from harassment or discrimination. You also have the right to be fairly considered for a job for which you are qualified. If you are dealing with unfair and illegal employment matters, it is a good idea to learn about your legal options.