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How to approach discrimination in the workplace

Even if you've never had a day of trouble at your place of employment, you could one day find yourself the victim of workplace discrimination. If this happens, it's critical to take the steps necessary to protect your legal rights.

If you suspect workplace discrimination, it's natural to have some questions and concerns. More specifically, you don't know what you should and shouldn't do in regard to protecting your legal rights.

While every situation is unique, here are some steps you can take as a victim of discrimination in the workplace:

  • Report the incident: Don't wait to report the incident to the appropriate party, such as the HR department or company owner. If you work in a smaller company and the owner is the one discriminating against you, it's time to consult with a state agency or the federal U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Take notes: Your goal is to prevent a situation in which it's your word against that of your employer. This is why you should take notes, documenting everything that's happened. Write down the time, date, what occurred and the steps you took. Also, if there is any documentation, such as an email or voice message, save it for future use.
  • Watch for retaliation: It's critical to report the discrimination to the appropriate party or department, but that doesn't mean your problem will quickly come to an end. Your employer may retaliate against you, as they don't want the issue becoming a distraction or harming the company in any way.
  • Don't stop: For example, it's common for your HR department to tell you they are looking into the situation. But don't take their word for it. Follow up as necessary, never giving up until you get the answer you're looking for.

As a victim of discrimination in the workplace, you hope that you can find common ground with your employer and reach some type of resolution. However, depending on the circumstances and the person discriminating against you, this is easier said than done.

There may come a point, such as if your employment is terminated, when you need to learn more about your legal rights and then take action to protect them.

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The Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Goldman
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