What should I do if I suspect I have been discriminated against in the workplace? What should I not do?
1. Gather evidence and document the illegal behavior.
If you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace, there are several things you should do. You should keep records of what happened, take notes when you get home from work, and save emails or other documents; be careful not to steal, copy, or take confidential or employer-owned documents that you don’t have a right to take.
You should preserve as much evidence as you can. Keep as complete of a record as you can about meetings you’ve had. You should record things people said to you, communications, and relevant documents that might show discrimination. Again, you should not take things you don’t have a right to.
Never go into the company’s private, confidential document system and take things you’re not entitled to, because it would be grounds for termination later on. However, there may be some exceptions to this, such as, if the documents you are taking are actually proof of some kind of illegal activity by the employer. You should consult an attorney before you take documents of this nature.
Legally, you do not have to go to the employer or HR department if you suspect you’ve been discriminated against, but depending on the case, it may be advisable to do so. For example, if you are of a minority race or of a certain religion and feel you were denied a promotion because of your race or religion, the first logical thing you should do is go to the supervisor or to HR and report the wrongdoing. If you feel you are being sexually harassed, you should report the harassment to the appropriate HR personnel or supervisor. In a lot of ways, it’s a common sense assessment. Ask yourself, “What should I do in this situation? I feel like I’m being treated unfairly. I should tell report the behavior to my supervisor.”
3. Contact an employment lawyer.
Finally, if you suspect you’ve been discriminated against, you should contact an employment lawyer. If and when you contact an employment lawyer, he or she may advise you to bring it to the attention of the appropriate person before you do anything else, if you haven’t already. This is why it may be wise to go ahead and take the time to contact the appropriate person ahead of time to speed up the process.
In the unfortunate situation where a claim needs to be made, do not delay the process. In some cases, there is a time limit, called a statute of limitations, for you to file your claim. Depending on the claim, the statute of limitations can be as short as three months. This means that if you wait to file your claim after the three months is up, the courts may not consider your case at all. If you find yourself with an employment dispute, be sure to act quickly.