Guest Contributor

5 Steps to Take if You Feel Discriminated Against in the Workplace

By | Victoria

You have to go to work 40 hours a week. It’s your livelihood. It’s how you put food on your table, take care of your family, and pay your bills. You accept that you have regular responsibilities you must take care of every day. You try to go to work with a good attitude. You do your best at your job. You never thought you would face discrimination. It can be overwhelming and discouraging if you are not being treated fairly. Take the following 5 steps to address discrimination in the workplace.

1. Be Prepared to File a Complaint

It is against the law to discriminate you at work based on the following:

  • Your gender
  • Your religious preferences
  • Your race
  • Your country of origin
  • The color of your skin
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you have a disability, physical or mental

If anyone at the workplace has harassed you or made inappropriate comments, you have a right to file a complaint. If another employee is using discrimination against you, you should go through a formal complaint process with your employer. If the problem is with your employer, turn to the labor office for your state. Be prepared. Write down any incidents that happened, including when they happened. Be as detailed as possible.

2. Notify Your Union Representative

If you have a union, talk to your union president or representative. In addition to your formal complaint, you may have a grievance process that will be initiated by your union. You can have union representation at all meetings involving your employer and other employees in the workplace. In some cases, your union may bring in an arbitrator to negotiate on your behalf.

3. Go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

If you feel that your efforts have not been successful in addressing discrimination against you at work, you can take your complaint to a government agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You need to stand up for yourself and prove that you mean business.

4. Don’t Accept Anything that Does Not Satisfy You

Never agree to anything if it does not make full amends for what happened to you. If your employer asks you to sign something to say the matter has been resolved or to put it on file, you can refuse. The only thing you should sign is your initial report. Make sure you keep copies of everything. Make notes of every meeting you have. When you bring in your union representative, make sure that person is keeping notes as well. The more documentation you have, the more ammunition you have in a legal fight.

5. Hire an Attorney

Filing a discrimination complaint can make you feel like you’re jumping through hoops with no results. Don’t give up. Your next course of action is to hire an L&I attorney. You need someone who will be in your corner. If your employer has failed to resolve a discrimination incident at work, you may be entitled to a sizeable settlement for your emotional suffering. Let a legal expert go to work for you. Bring all of your former complaints with you, as well as any other documentation you have. A paper trail can pin the blame where it belongs. Your attorney understands your rights, how you are protected under the law, and what your employer’s responsibilities are. Your employer’s failure to protect you from discrimination can result in a hefty penalty for the company. Your attorney will explain how the process works. You will also learn about your options.

Discrimination can leave you with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. Worst of all, you may have emotional scarring that will last a lifetime. You may feel like you can’t return to your job due to the way you were treated. Don’t let such an injustice occur without taking action. You are a valuable employee. You matter. No company can function without a strong backbone. You and your fellow co-workers create the backbone. One case of discrimination can weaken it. Make sure you follow up and receive the respect that is your due.


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