Have you ever felt like you were treated differently in the workplace because of something about yourself that you cannot change? Have you been denied employment, promotions, received less pay than other similarly situated employees, been subjected to disparaging comments or terminated all because of an immutable characteristic? If so, you may be like millions of other employees who have suffered discrimination in the workplace.
It is unlawful under federal and state laws, for an employer to subject an employee to disparate treatment based on their age, gender, disability, national origin, race/ color, religion or pregnancy (Protected Classes) or institute operations that are discriminatory in practice even though they appear to be neutral.
Federal and State laws protect you from discrimination based on the following:
AGE – The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age.Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their age with respect to hiring, firing, compensation and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
GENDER – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Florida Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals in hiring, firing, compensation and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment because of their gender. Thus, an employer may not treat employees or applicants more or less favorably because of their gender.
DISABILITY – Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Florida Civil Rights Act prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities with respect to hiring, firing, compensation and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
NATIONAL ORIGIN – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Florida Civil Rights act prohibits employment decisions based on an individual’s national origin. This includes stereotypes and assumptions about abilities, traits, or the performance of individuals of certain racial groups with respect to hiring, firing, compensation and other terms, condition and privileges of employment.
RACE/ COLOR – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Florida Civil Rights Act protects individuals against employment discrimination on the bases of race and color. Under Title VII and the FCRA, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an individual with respect to hiring, firing, compensation and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
RELIGION – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Florida Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals in hiring or firing decisions and other terms of employment because of their religion.
PREGNANCY – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the FCRA prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Is it illegal for my boss to be a jerk?
No, not necessarily. Although being a jerk may be morally wrong, it is not per se illegal in the workplace. However, if your boss treats you unfairly with respect to your compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because you are a member of a protected class then this could be discrimination.
What should I do if my employer subjects me to disparate treatment because of my age, gender, disability, national origin, race/ color, religion or pregnancy?
It is always advisable to report any discrimination to your employer immediately. Reporting discriminatory behavior to your employer protects you by providing notice to your employer so they can take remedial action.
What if the discriminatory behavior continues?
Discrimination can come in many ways, shapes and forms, so it is important to report this behavior when you become aware of it. If your employer does not resolve the issue promptly, then the proper governmental local, federal and state agencies be notified to fully protect your rights.
If I report this discrimination, won’t my employer terminate me?
An employer may terminate you at any time, so reporting unlawful behavior may lead to termination. However, if your employer does terminate you for reporting discrimination in the workplace, they have then violated your rights for which you may seek damages. There must be a causal connection between the reported discrimination and the termination for a viable claim.
Discrimination in the workplace is subject to many rules, federal and state laws, regulations. As such, it is crucial to speak with an experienced attorney who can identify the issues quickly and proceed accordingly.