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Employee discrimination is a caustic and corrosive cultural event that limits your business and can ultimately cost you both in employee quality and market share. However, many employers struggle with the concept of diversity and find themselves uncomfortable when exposed to new mindsets and points of view. If you feel you’ve been discriminated against, you may be right, but it’s critical that you do your research before moving ahead.

What is Employee Discrimination?

There are several protected classes of employees under federal law. Legally, you cannot be discriminated against because of your gender, race, religion, pregnancy status, veteran status, or disability. However, discrimination in the workplace is seldom obvious. According to the Law Offices of Snider & Associates, some common discriminatory acts that most people don’t think of include failure to provide raises fairly, inaccurate performance, unfair distribution of benefits, and not promoting when deserved. Because many employers don’t approve of employees discussing raises or benefit packages, you may simply not know with certainty if you are being discriminated against because the data isn’t shared.

Discrimination Prior to Hire

A common form of discrimination is being discriminated against during the hiring process. If you’re part of a protected group and you feel like you were discriminated against during the hiring process, you may have grounds for a discrimination claim. Make sure you know exactly what position you were hired for, and do your best to check back to determine when the position was filled. You probably will not be able to find out who the position was filled by, however. Review business journal postings and the company website to determine who got the job and what their qualifications are. If your qualifications are comparable are similar to or better than the person hired, you can file a claim with the EEOC.

How Can I Find Out if My Raise Was Unfair?

According to Paycor, your employer needs to file reports throughout the year that tracks employees by gender and race. Income often appears on these reports by percentage. If you are a member of a protected class, you may contact your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about your concerns. However, be aware that many factors go into determining pay rates. Also, the inherent privacy requirements put in place by many companies make this search and claim process very difficult.

Discrimination Everyone Knows About

There are companies who seem only to promote people who look like the owner or board members. There are companies that always lay people off when they turn 60. If you are a member of a protected class and are concerned about a discriminatory pattern, the time to act is before you are the target. If you see something, say something. However, be aware that your initial complaint to the EEOC can remain anonymous. If you choose to file, your name and signature must go on the complaint. Your employer is then forbidden by law to retaliate against you by terminating you.

Discrimination is an ugly business, and fighting it isn’t pretty. However, there are legal protections in place for members of protected classes that protect you from discriminatory hiring practices as well as from termination if you file against your employer.

Here’s another article you might like: How to Break through the Glass Ceiling at the Workplace