What is discrimination?
In general, discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee less favorably because of their race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), or disability. The law forbids discrimination in every aspect of employment. For example, discrimination can take the form of unfair hiring decisions, undeserved discipline, unequal pay, or even termination. The law provides a limited time for pursing discrimination claims, so we advise you to speak with one of our skilled employment law attorneys as soon as possible if you believe you have been discriminated against at work.
What is not discrimination?
Not all unfair treatment is illegal. For example, your company can fire you because the boss doesn’t like you. The company’s conduct or decision is not illegal unless it is motivated by a person’s status as a member of a protected group (e.g., because the employee is female, or Hispanic, or gay, or a person with a disability) or in retaliation. We are experienced in making these distinctions and can advise you as to whether you have a claim.
What is harassment?
It is illegal to harass an employee because of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to harass someone because they have complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Harassment can take the form of slurs, graffiti, offensive or derogatory comments, or other verbal or physical conduct. Sexual harassment (including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other conduct of a sexual nature) is also unlawful. Although the law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal if it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or if it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). If your working conditions have become so intolerable due to harassment or a hostile work environment, you may be able to resign and still preserve your claims for wrongful termination and “constructive discharge” against your employer. However, if you are considering quitting your job, we strongly advise that you speak to an experienced employment lawyer first.
What is retaliation?
Generally, the law forbids an employer from punishing job applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination in the workplace, including harassment. Under the law, asserting your rights is called "protected activity," and it can take many forms. For example, it is unlawful to retaliate against applicants or employees for: Reporting discrimination or harassment; Resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others; Filing or being a witness in a discrimination charge proceeding, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit. Engaging in protected activity, however, does not always shield an employee from all discipline. Our skilled employment law attorneys know the difference and can advise you about your rights.
How long do I have to file a claim?
There are strict time limits for filing charges of employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. To preserve the ability to pursue your claims, you should contact one of our skilled employment law attorneys as soon as unfair treatment is suspected. If you fail to act in time, you may be forever barred from bringing the claim before a judge or jury. SGB can represent you in this process and ensure that your claims are not waived.