Employment discrimination refers broadly to several statutes protecting people from discrimination on the basis of various factors, including:
- National Origin
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 serves as the basis for a wide range of discrimination claims, but is not the only source of law prohibiting discrimination in employment. Some other statutes regulating employer actions in this arena include:
- The Equal Pay Act
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- The Americans with Disabilities Act
Because employment decisions are often subjective and are virtually always based on a mix of factors, it may be difficult to determine when your company is at risk of being accused of discrimination in hiring, firing, compensation, promotion or some other area. An experienced employment discrimination lawyer can help you create standards and procedures that will help establish fair and equitable treatment.
Disparate Impact on Protected Classes
Employment discrimination need not be direct. A company may be held liable for policies that have a disparate impact on a protected class, even if that impact is incidental to a benign purpose. However, there is an exception for “bona fide occupational qualifications.” For example, a test of lifting strength may disproportionately screen out women or those with physical disabilities, but still be permitted for a position that involves the regular lifting of 50-pound boxes.
A careful assessment of the tests and other screening tools associated with hiring for your company will allow you to eliminate factors that may trigger discrimination claims while preserving those that provide truly valuable information about your candidates in terms of their ability to perform the job duties.
Other Prohibitions on Discrimination in Employment
In addition to the federal laws discussed above, you may be required to comply with:
- State Employment Discrimination Laws: While many state employment discrimination laws mirror federal laws, others are more stringent, or include protected classifications that aren’t covered under Title VII, such as sexual orientation.
- Standards for Federal Employees: In addition to federal and state laws applying to most employers, employees of or applicants to many government jobs enjoy added protections.
When you work with an employment discrimination attorney in our office, he or she will determine which state and federal statutes and regulations apply to your company, so that you can work together to ensure compliance and protect your business from liability.
Employment Discrimination Litigation
Depending on the provision your company is accused of violating, procedures may differ. If an employee accuses you of employment discrimination, you may find yourself negotiating with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), facing a lawsuit in federal court, answering to a state agency or litigating in state court. In short, the same act of alleged discrimination may give rise to several different possible remedies.
Whichever route the claimant takes, you cannot afford to wait and see what happens. Advice from a seasoned employment discrimination lawyer will allow you to construct the strongest defense possible and avoid innocent mistakes that might harm your case.
Limitations Periods and Exhaustion of Remedies in Employment Discrimination
Many of the possible discrimination claims require exhaustion of administrative remedies before a lawsuit may be filed. In simple terms, that means that a claimant in such a case will be required to pursue his or her claim with the EEOC or other appropriate administrative body before filing a lawsuit. Failure to do so may mean that the lawsuit cannot be filed. Since the period during which an employee or applicant may file a charge with the EEOC is typically much shorter than the statute of limitations on filing suit on a claim of the same type, some complainants who skip over the administrative steps in the beginning may find themselves barred from pursuing a claim by the time they seek legal assistance or file in court.
Our attorneys are here to ensure that your rights are protected in every way, including holding potential claimants to the standards set forth by the law and applicable regulations.
Talk to an Employment Discrimination Attorney
An experienced employment discrimination attorney can do far more than just represent an employer when facing an EEOC charge or employment discrimination litigation. Building that relationship early means that we have the opportunity to learn about your business, assess any hiring processes or screening tools that might make your company vulnerable, and provide the guidance and training necessary to minimize your risk. we will help you reduce the likelihood that you will face discrimination claims while simultaneously learning about your business so that if a claim does arise, we will be ready to step in to defend you.