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Steps to take when you encounter workplace discrimination

Workplace discrimination continues to be a serious problem, despite the many advances we have made in employee protections over the years. It is never pleasant to experience or confront, and many employees do not know exactly how to respond when they encounter discrimination in the workplace. If you experience discrimination in the workplace, you have a duty and opportunity to make your workplace safer by standing up for your rights — but how exactly does an employee do this?

The first step is to make sure your employer knows about the incident. Different workplaces approach discrimination claims differently, but nothing will improve or be addressed properly if you do not first make it clear to your employer that you experienced discrimination and that it is unacceptable. You should also convey to your employer that you take the issue very seriously and request a written report on the incident. You can also ask your employer to investigate the incident and pursue proper disciplinary action.

In many cases, this is enough to resolve the issue, but not always. If your employer does not respond, or does not take the matter seriously, you can step up you response. The next course of action is to report the incident to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This is also a good time to consult with an attorney and review your employer's discrimination policies. In some cases, your experience may fall into a legal grey area that requires special attention, or you may need to increase pressure on your employer to respond appropriately.

An attorney can help you examine the incident to determine a wise way to proceed with your discrimination claim. As you work together to resolve the issue, the attorney can ensure that you remain within the law in your response to the discrimination, while he or she also works to resolve the matter fairly and keep your rights and priorities protected. Whatever you do, do not let the discrimination pass by unchecked. Standing up to discrimination benefits not only you, but every employee in your workplace and beyond.

Source: Findlaw, "Dealing with Discrimination: Tips for Employees," accessed Sep. 22, 2017

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