Often, discrimination shows up when you least expect it. At first, you may not even realize that discrimination is what you are facing. Sometimes it takes someone pointing it out to you, or worse, the discrimination becomes so severe that there is no longer any doubt in your mind. Once you recognize there is a problem, you must take action.
Sexual Discrimination Defined
Federal laws define sexual discrimination fairly specifically — Employers may not discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender while making decisions about hiring, firing, compensating, or promoting employees or potential employees. These laws cover sexual harassment as well as pregnancy and childbirth.
It may be difficult to believe that you are experiencing actions that are discriminatory. In the case of sexual discrimination, you may think that because no one is demanding sexual favors or making suggestive statements, you are not experiencing this type of discrimination. When you first start suspecting this type of problem, start paying attention to how exactly you are treated in relation to others around you. If in doubt, ask a close friend or coworker how they feel about how others are treated.
Proving Workplace Discrimination
Once you are certain that what you are dealing with is discriminatory behavior in your workplace, you may want to begin documenting what goes on. Write down conversations that are discriminatory, word for word. Be sure to note the date, time and who was involved in the conversation. Save any written correspondence or memos that are discriminatory in nature, and collect statements from people who are willing to speak up about what is happening.
File a Complaint
Anyone who feels that they have been discriminated against can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Complainants must include their name and contact information, contact information for the employer and a short description of the alleged discrimination along with dates of these events. To meet with the timing requirements of the EEOC, claims must be filed within 180 days from the date of the incident. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing a complaint.
If it has taken you a while to recognize that you are dealing with workplace discrimination, do not feel alone. Many people want to believe that those around them have the best intentions and do not first think of discrimination when they are denied a promotion or experience some other discriminatory act. Now that you know what to look for, you are better prepared to handle yourself if you encounter a problem.