Employment Law

What to do if you believe you are being discriminated against because of your race in Washington

By November 9, 2021November 15th, 2021No Comments

If you are being treated differently than other employees because of your race or national origin, there are laws in place that can help you protect yourself. 

Our team of Washington employment lawyers at Gilbert Law Firm has experience helping clients fight racial and national origin discrimination in the workplace; and  we are here to help you.

Read on to learn more about what racism and discrimination in the workplace looks like under U.S. law.

Protections in American employment law

Federal employment law protects employees from discrimination in Washington and throughout the United States. These protections are based on: 

  • race, 
  • color, 
  • religion, 
  • sex, 
  • sexual orientation, 
  • gender identity, 
  • age,
  • national origin, 
  • disability, or 
  • status as a protected veteran

According to the US Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment” 

Similarly, the U.S. Department of Labor gives employees the right to work in an environment free of discrimination.

This means employers cannot use your status in one of the above categories to:

  • Deny you employment, 
  • Harass you,
  • Demote you, 
  • Terminate you, 
  • Pay you less, or 
  • Treat you less favorably

Discrimination based upon race and national origin is illegal – and companies or employees engaging in discrimination can be held liable for their actions.

So what are the steps you should take if you believe you have been the victim of employment discrimination or racism?

Document each encounter and incident -- and be detailed

If you are experiencing discrimination within your Washington workplace, it is crucial to document everything. 

The time, place, location, and details of each incident, including the context, witnesses, and room response, are key components to include. 

If your boss is making racist statements, document when, where, who is present, and the context of the comments, so that you have all of the information on hand. These details are essential to prove that what you are experiencing is racism and will strengthen your case.

File a formal complaint with your company

Before taking any other action, you must first bring the violative behavior to your company’s attention. 

This provides your company with the opportunity to respond appropriately and take steps to rectify the situation.  Your report should be comprehensive and accurate. Offer the details of your experiences, and inform them how the racist comments or actions have made you feel. 

Your company may force you to file a complaint in writing.  This is NOT a legal requirement; and such policies are viewed as restrictive with intent to dissuade employees from making complaints.

However, if a written complaint is required, you must comply with policy in order to be protected under the law. Just file the written complaint, and let our employment lw experts  point out the reason they require the complaint in writing later if necessary.

Be sure to also make a note of who you are speaking to and when, the advice you are given, as well as any action taken after that. Follow up each contact from your employer on the issue with an email or letter documenting what was discussed. 

Also, remember, it is illegal for your company to act out against you because of your complaint. If you feel you are being harassed because you filed the complaint document this and report it to your supervisor or human resources department as well.

If the company fails to act on your complaints, retaliates, or otherwise continues to discriminate against you, file a formal complaint with the EEOC and get a Washington employment lawyer involved

You must notify the EEOC within 180 days of any incident. You can contact them by phone, online, or even speak to them in person. They will ask for every detail about your experiences to determine whether or not what you have been through constitutes as racist behavior.

This is another reason why having documentation at your disposal is critical. The EEOC will review your claim and contact you with their decision within ten business days. If they decide to move forward, the EEOC will assign an investigator to your company and inform you of the next steps.

Contact a Washington employment discrimination lawyer today

Before taking any other action, you must first bring the violative behavior to your company’s attention. 

This provides your company with the opportunity to respond appropriately and take steps to rectify the situation.  Your report should be comprehensive and accurate. Offer the details of your experiences, and inform them how the racist comments or actions have made you feel. 

Your company may force you to file a complaint in writing.  This is NOT a legal requirement; and such policies are viewed as restrictive with intent to dissuade employees from making complaints.

However, if a written complaint is required, you must comply with policy in order to be protected under the law. Just file the written complaint, and let our employment lw experts  point out the reason they require the complaint in writing later if necessary.

Be sure to also make a note of who you are speaking to and when, the advice you are given, as well as any action taken after that. Follow up each contact from your employer on the issue with an email or letter documenting what was discussed. 

Also, remember, it is illegal for your company to act out against you because of your complaint. If you feel you are being harassed because you filed the complaint document this and report it to your supervisor or human resources department as well.

If the company fails to act on your complaints, retaliates, or otherwise continues to discriminate against you, file a formal complaint with the EEOC and get a Washington employment lawyer involved

You must notify the EEOC within 180 days of any incident. You can contact them by phone, online, or even speak to them in person. They will ask for every detail about your experiences to determine whether or not what you have been through constitutes as racist behavior.

This is another reason why having documentation at your disposal is critical. The EEOC will review your claim and contact you with their decision within ten business days. If they decide to move forward, the EEOC will assign an investigator to your company and inform you of the next steps.

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