Employee Information
If You Suspect Employment Discrimination



If you feel that you may have experienced unlawful employment discrimination, the following steps may be helpful to you.

Gather Information - Create a file, and gather information regarding the suspected discrimination. The information may include the relevant laws and regulations; the employer's employment policies; the procedures to file a compaint with a government agency; information on the employer's internal complaint procedures; your personnel records; a list of witnesses; and, a log of important events and contacts. Visit a local law library, and book store, to review books that contain information about laws that concern non-discrimination in employment.

Seek Advice - Consult with persons about the employment problem, and your legal rights. Information may be available within the employment environment from sources including the human resources department, the employee assistance program, employee organizations, ombudspersons, and higher management. Information may be available outside of the employment environment from sources including government agencies, employee rights organizations, and attorneys. Be aware that the employment problem may involve other legal issues in addition to employment discrimination. All things considered, it is usually advisable that you consult with an attorney about serious employment problems that you have not been able to resolve with your employer.

Meet Statutory Time Limits - Learn the time limits that you must meet under the laws if you decide to file an administrative discrimination complaint with a government agency, or to pursue court litigation. Make notations of the deadlines on your calendars, and make additional notations to ensure that you have sufficient lead time to meet the deadlines. Be certain that you meet the time limits for filing discrimination complaints, or you may lose your rights to pursue the matter.

Decide On and Follow a Course of Action - Using the information and advice you have obtained, decide on a course of action that you will follow to address the suspected discrimination. The appropriate course of action will depend on the circumstances of the suspected discriminatory situation. It may be helpful to first try to resolve the matter within the employment environment. You can do this by bringing the matter to the attention of someone in the human resources department, or in higher management. If that is not successful, you may decide to file a complaint with the employer's internal complaint or grievance system, if one exists. Recent court decisions regarding sexual harassment suggest that employees should usually try to utilize an employer's internal complaint system before resorting to court litigation. Consider keeping notes on the contacts that you make orally, and making important contacts in writing. If you conclude that your efforts within the employment environment are not successful, you may decide to seek outside assistance by filing a complaint with a government agency, or retaining an attorney to represent you. Revise your plan of action as appropriate as you learn additional information about your case.

Determine the Desired Resolution - Using the information and advice you have obtained, decide on what you desire as a remedy for the suspected discrimination. The appropriate resolution will depend on the circumstances of the suspected discrimination. The desired resolution may include non-monetary actions like being promoted or reassigned to a different job. The resolution may include monetary payments for things like lost wages and benefits, and compensatory damages for emotional distress. Talk with an attorney or representative of a fair employment practices agency about what you may be justified in seeking as a resolution to your discrimination complaint. Be prepared to explain and justify the resolution that you desire. Revise the desired resolution as appropriate as you learn additional information about the case. Be creative when thinking of possible resolutions. Recognize that compromise may be necessary to achieve a successful resolution. Most employment discrimination complaints are resolved before a court trial occurs.

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