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Broward County Employment Law Blog

What should you do after an instance of workplace discrimination?

Even though workplace discrimination should be a thing of the past, it still comes into play time and time again. For example, age and gender discrimination remains a common problem throughout the country.

If you have reason to believe you're the victim of workplace discrimination, here are five things to do:

  • Talk to your employer: Don't hesitate to meet with the company owner or HR department, as this provides the opportunity to share your feelings and better understand what's going on. While you shouldn't expect your employer to admit anything, you're at least getting your complaint out in the open. This is also a good time to review your employee handbook.
  • Follow-up: If you alert your employer but the issue persists, follow-up to better understand what they're doing to make things right. Don't let them sweep the problem under the rug.
  • Collect evidence: Any evidence related to your claim of discrimination, no matter how small it seems, should be kept in a safe place. For example, if you have an email from a supervisor that proves discrimination, a copy of it will go a long way in helping you in the future.
  • Contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): This is typically a last resort, but you shouldn't hesitate to escalate your concern. The EEOC can review your case, contact your employer and do whatever it takes to protect your legal rights.
  • Review all applicable state and federal laws: Doing so will help you understand your legal rights. For example, there is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Outsmarting age discrimination in the application process

Age discrimination is a serious concern for workers over a certain age. Employers may be reticent to hire older staff members for a number of reasons. There is a cultural stereotype that leads people to believe that older workers aren't as good with technology as younger workers.

Additionally, hiring skilled older workers often be much more expensive than a student fresh out of college. Regardless of why a company does it, it is frustrating for a skilled worker to encounter age discrimination when looking for a new or better job. You may start looking for ways to help yourself stay competitive as an older applicant in a work economy increasingly favoring the young.

Warning signs of subtle gender discrimination at work

Many people think of workplace gender discrimination as obvious. There certainly are situations in which it becomes evident that an employer is intentionally engaging in systemic discrimination against an entire gender.

For example, company-wide pay discrepancies between the different genders, as well as a dearth of one gender or the other in important, executive or managerial roles is a warning sign that the company doesn't offer equal opportunities for both genders.

Wage disparities could indicate a discrimination issue

If you are like most Americans, you probably don't know what your co-workers actually earn. Many companies specifically put non-disclosure policies about wages in their contracts. They do this to avoid the awkward moment when equally qualified employees in similar positions realize that one makes much more money than the other for no discernible reason.

By preventing employees from discussing what they make, companies avoid liability and responsibility when it comes to various forms of employment discrimination. Gender as well as age can play a role in how much a person makes.

Yes, men can face gender discrimination, too

When you think of gender discrimination, you may only think about it involving discrimination against women. However, that's not always the case. It's equally possible to discriminate against men.

For example, imagine that a business has an all-female staff. A man applies, but he's immediately denied the position due to not "fitting the image" of the company. If you can see that no men have been hired and that there is no reason for females to be preferred specifically for the job, then this could constitute discrimination.

4 ways to recognize workplace discrimination

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was enacted to protect Americans from various forms of discrimination. At first, it outlawed discrimination based on gender, race and ethnicity. Later, additional laws were passed to protect individuals from other forms of discrimination including age and disability. Unfortunately, even with these protections in place, workplace discrimination still occurs in Fort Lauderdale as well as other cities in Florida and across the United States.

In many instances, discrimination can be subtle and almost undetectable. If fact, employees often do not realize that they are being subjected to unfair practices. This is why it is important to know how to recognize the signs of workplace discrimination.

Was my denied promotion due to gender discrimination?

Being denied a promotion you think you deserve and for which you believe you are qualified can be a very disheartening feeling. In addition, seeing a coworker who is less experienced receive the promotion can be disconcerting. You may question whether you have been discriminated against, especially if the person who received the promotion was not the same gender as you.

Gender discrimination in the workplace counts as any type of negative behavior toward a worker that is based on their gender identity. This could be the act of paying two workers of the opposite sex unequally for equal work, or it could be the denial of employment or a promotion because of the applicant's gender. If you believe that you are a victim of gender discrimination because of a promotion denial, it is important that you understand how the law applies in Florida.

Restructuring can be a thinly veiled form of age discrimination

Times change, and so do the demands a company faces. Whether internal practices have shifted or a company has merged with another business, restructuring is a way to address inefficiency and problems within a company. It can help a company assess its current practices and find better ways to do business.

Done properly, restructuring benefits everyone, from the staff to the employer. Unfortunately, many businesses use restructuring as a means of getting rid of older employees and bringing in new staff. This may be nothing more than a thinly veiled form of age discrimination.

Do your employer’s policies discriminate against you?

The last several years have seen sweeping changes to the culture surrounding harassment in the workplace. In nearly every area of business, leadership sees the writing on the wall and understands that workplaces that turn a blind eye to harassment may find themselves facing costly lawsuits.

Slowly but surely, state and federal laws are catching up and offering protections against harassment and discrimination that many businesses have allowed. Unfortunately, some states push back against these kinds of regulations, and some businesses drag their feet with compliance and updates to their company policies.

What you should know about race and color discrimination

It's inconceivable to imagine that any employer would pass up a highly skilled employee, who can contribute better quality work than his or her competing job applicants, just because of superficial characteristics like race and skin color. The thing is, it happens every day in Florida and it usually goes completely unnoticed.

After all, how is a job applicant going to know that he didn't get the job because he was black, Hispanic or Asian? How is a worker going to know that her boss passed her up for a promotion because her skin is a darker shade of color than her coworker?

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