Discrimination involves the unfavorable treatment of an employee, in relation to a protected class. Discrimination must be against a protected class.
Visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission page to learn more about the types of discrimination to see if you may be in one or more protected classes of people.
Thank you to attorney, Bertha Burruezo of Burruezo & Burruezo, PLLC for significant contribution to this article.
WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?
An employer commits discrimination when they take adverse actions against you on the basis of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
Adverse actions can be: hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF?
Be sure to keep a detailed record of every incident, verbal attacks, and adverse actions.
You may keep records in different ways such as written notes or photographs, but if possible, you should know the date of the incidents and the person or people who acted against you.
Reference your employee handbook to locate the grievance procedure or figure out how to file a complaint. If your company has a Human Resources department, they would also be able to provide you with this guidance on filing a complaint.
Be sure to ask for a copy of the complaint and make sure it is not only verbal, but in writing. This formal complaint is necessary because in order to hold a company liable in a discrimination case, the company must be made aware of the situation and given the opportunity to investigate and perform prompt remedial actions.
If your company does not have a formal complaint process, you may want to write the details of the incident or incidents in an email or by handwritten document and deliver that to your supervisor or someone above them in the company leadership.
File a “Charge of Discrimination” with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also known as the EEOC.
This is a legal requirement prior to filing a civil lawsuit for discrimination. Once you file the charge, the EEOC will notify your employer. The EEOC will process the claim either dismissing the charge, investigating or even, in some instances, requesting that you and your employer mediate the dispute. After processing the charge, the EEOC can issue a “Right to Sue Letter,” giving you the ability to file a lawsuit in Court.
The EEOC applies some time limits to when you can file, so do not wait too long. Click here to read about the length of time you may have to file after the discrimination has occurred.
In Florida, you may also file a Charge of Discrimination with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR). The FCHR is in place to enforce civil rights in the workplace and address discrimination issues.
WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING ACTION.
If you need a professional opinion, advice, and additional information, call the Community Legal Services of Mid Florida Helpline or consult with a private attorney.
The EEOC gives you a limited time to file a charge, so be aware of the timeline and act promptly. The amount of time you have to file a charge always starts on the date that the incident took place, but can vary depending on the number of employees at your company, the type of discrimination and what state you are in.
Generally, if you are not a federal employee or federal job applicant, you must file within 180 days of the date that the discrimination took place. This deadline is extended to 300 days if a state or local agency enforces a state or local law that prohibits discrimination on the same basis. In Florida, the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) enforces the Florida Civil Human Rights Act (FCRA), which prohibits employment discrimination in the state. Therefore, the EEOC filing deadline for all discrimination charges by Florida claimants extends to 300 calendar days.
For age discrimination, the deadline is extended to 300 days, if there is a state law prohibiting age discrimination.
If you file with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), you will have 365 days to file a charge. If you also wish to file at the federal level, you must submit your claim within 300 days.