With the strong focus on discrimination that has dominated the news cycle for more than a year, one might think that workplace discrimination is rare at this point, if for no other reason than because both employees and employers are concerned about protecting themselves from the legal and social consequences of discrimination accusations. Unfortunately, workers throughout the country still face discrimination in the workplace every day. While discrimination may someday be a thing of the past, that day has not yet arrived.
When it happens to you, do you know how to deal with discrimination?
It’s never easy to confront conflict in the workplace, but it is a necessary responsibility to bear, not only for your own sake, but for your entire workplace. Whether the discrimination you experience is intentional or not, until someone stands up and puts an end to it, the behavior will probably continue.
First, it is wise to inform your employer directly that your experience is not acceptable. If you never speak up about the discrimination, your employer does not bear much responsibility in the matter, but once you do inform them, they have a legal obligation to address it.
Ask your employer for a copy of their written report about the incident to ensure that you have internal documentation of your employer’s response. This makes it much more difficult for the employer to brush the matter aside or minimize it.
Still, you may work for an employer who does hope that you won’t pursue the matter further. In this case, you may consider reporting the incident to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. No employer wants to deal with the scrutiny that comes with a government agency investigating your report, so getting the EEOC involved can lend some clout to your complaint and motivate an uncooperative employer to deal with the matter directly.
Ultimately, many of these conflicts come down to one side giving an account of an interaction pitted against the other party’s account. You can increase the strength of your claim by keeping a written diary of any discriminatory interactions along with any other documentation you receive from your employer, and also keeping any objects or written communication that you receive from your harasser or the party that discriminates against you.
Use the strength of the law
Building a strong discrimination claim is not an easy task, and pursuing it is even more difficult. Make sure that you have all of the legal tools and support that you need to protect your rights and dignity and bring your discrimination experience to a fair resolution. The work that you do to protect yourself may also protect many others around you from similar discrimination in the future.