Did you know that three out of five employees in the US have witnessed or experienced workplace discrimination? In fact, around a million workplace discrimination complaints have already been reported since 2010.

Workplace discrimination is illegal, but statistics have shown that it continues to persist in this day and age. Whatever your job may be, you should never be discriminated based on one’s race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation or identity. Knowing your rights and how to defend yourself is very important, especially if you ever find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. 

To guide you, here are some helpful tips on protecting yourself against workplace discrimination.

Types of Legal Discrimination

Determining what is acceptable and what is not is essential in understanding your case. There are various types of discrimination, but the most popular categories can be narrowed down into three types: discriminatory intent or treatment, disparate impact, and retaliation. If you are being treated poorly or differently because of your age, gender, race, color, or national origin, then you can file a case of discriminatory intent.

On the other hand, a disparate impact claim can be made if a work policy or employment decisions have unintentional and adverse effects on members of a protected group or minority. Lastly, if you are being threatened with negative consequences after filing a complaint or reporting something unethical, a retaliation claim can be raised.

These types of discrimination should never be tolerated in the workplace, so you have to act and exercise your rights to equality at work. 

Gathering Evidence

To back up your claim, you have to start collecting and keeping evidence. You can start by retrieving first-hand accounts of other employees or witnesses. Make a note on what exactly happened, including the date, time, and location of each incident. Additionally, make sure to retrieve evidence showing the unlawful behavior in the form of photos, emails, etc.

Hold on to letters, contract agreements, employee handbooks, tax records, and other documents that can aid your claim. The goal at this point is to have a clear record of any unfair treatment from your coworkers or the company policies. Before you include work emails or company documents in your logs, remember to check that these files do not contain any proprietary or prohibited information based on your employee handbook. 

File a Formal Complaint

The next step in protecting yourself against work discrimination is letting your company know that you are experiencing harassment. You can do this by notifying your immediate superior, manager or your human resources officer.

You should do this as soon as possible so that appropriate actions can be taken. You can also consider contacting the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file a complaint not later than 180 days after the incident.

This is very important, especially if you already went through the company’s internal process in dealing with such complaints and still continued to experience the same harassment or unfair treatment. You have to understand that going through legal repercussions will incur emotional distress, so you have to be prepared mentally and emotionally. 

The good news is that you will not go through this alone if you seek legal advice. In fact, you can even find this service for free by contacting law employment experts either through their website or by calling them directly. Employment attorneys will help you by offering possible legal options.

He or she will also be able to provide you an overview of the whole experience of filing a legal complaint against your employer. Through this, you are assured that your voice will be heard, and your rights will be fully protected. Having an employment attorney to work with will also help you remain calm, confident, and collected despite the stress that work discrimination entails.

Preventing Discrimination

Workplace discrimination can be directly or indirectly caused by you or your coworkers. Regardless of whether you are the employer or employee, you still hold the responsibility of ensuring equal opportunity in the workplace.

To help prevent discrimination in your workplace, you have to actively take part in company efforts promoting awareness of discrimination, encouraging respect for each other’s differences, and developing a workplace policy that excludes any form of discrimination. These actions must be enforced, monitored, and reviewed regularly so that effectiveness is maintained. 

Nobody deserves to be working in a toxic environment. Upholding equality and diversity in the workplace is the legal responsibilities of both the employer and employee. In general, knowing your rights and their limits is the most important thing in defending yourself against workplace discrimination.