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Though our society has made great strides in the past few decades to eliminate the most severe forms of discrimination, it remains a serious issue in the context of employment, education, housing, banking, and other sectors. Unfortunately, discrimination has gone from being in the open and a matter of policy for businesses, schools, and governments, to being much more subtle and challenging to identify.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal anti-discrimination laws in the employment context, received over 76,000 charges of discrimination across the country in the fiscal year 2018; fortunately, this is down from the high mark in the early 2010s of approximately 100,000 charges per year. However, this number doesn’t even include the thousands of other charges that are filed with state and local anti-discrimination agencies across the country.
As incidents of discrimination have become more subtle and hidden, it has become much harder to identify when perceived discrimination is actually a violation of the law. For example, when an employee is terminated, he or she may view their firing as a result of some aspect about themselves, such as their color, gender, or age, when in reality their employer may have made an objective, non-discriminatory decision to terminate their employment. As a result, it is important for anyone who believes they have been subjected to discrimination to speak with an experienced discrimination attorney like Stuart Higgins and Higgins Law Firm, PLLC. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling (515) 619-9148 today.
Types of Discrimination
Although discrimination can occur in the workplace, the classroom, the housing search, or in the effort to open a credit card, bank account, or another financial account, there are many different types of discrimination that can be experienced in these and other areas. Some of the most common categories of discrimination, as noted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, include:
- Genetic Information, which includes individual genetic test information and genetic tests of family members, and family medical history
- National Origin
- Pregnancy/Family Status, including whether an individual is married and/or has children or other dependents
- Sex/Gender/Gender Identity/Gender Expression/Sexual Orientation
Discrimination can take many forms. For example, discrimination can include, in the employment failure to provide equal pay/compensation along with other adverse employment actions (such as failure to offer promotions, raises, or desirable assignments, or termination), and all contexts can include harassment, retaliation, and sexual harassment.
If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination in your job, at school, at a bank, in a housing search, or in any other context, you should speak with a knowledgeable discrimination attorney who can help you determine whether you have a viable legal claim for discrimination.
How Can an Attorney Help Me with My Discrimination Claim?
If you believe that you may have a discrimination claim, an attorney is critical to successfully pursuing that claim. The party against whom you intend to allege discrimination may initially have a seemingly legitimate, non-discriminatory explanation for their conduct. An experienced discrimination attorney can investigate the facts and circumstances of your case to determine whether the discriminatory conduct you allege was indeed the product of objective, non-discriminatory decision-making, or whether the seemingly legitimate explanation is merely a pretext to cover up a discriminatory motive.
If you have a valid discrimination claim, an attorney can help you file a charge of discrimination with the appropriate local, state, or federal agency, if applicable. An attorney can also negotiate with the opposing party on your behalf to try to obtain the compensation or other remedies you need to make you whole. If a settlement isn’t possible, an attorney can help you navigate the court system to file a discrimination lawsuit.
What Are the Possible Remedies for a Discrimination Claim?
If you have a valid and successful discrimination claim, you may be entitled to a wide variety of remedies and/or compensation. Your remedies will tend to fall into two categories: legal and equitable. Legal remedies or compensation usually refers to monetary remedies or compensation.
For example, if you are discriminated against in the workplace by not being paid as much as other similarly situated co-workers or are wrongfully terminated, you may be entitled to the pay or compensation you would have been entitled to if you were not discriminated against. Or if you are discriminated against during a loan application by receiving a higher interest rate than other similarly-situated applicants received, you may be entitled to recover damages in the form of the excess interests costs.
Equitable remedies or compensation are meant to put you back in the position you were or should have been, but for the discrimination you experienced. For example, if you are terminated from your job as part of discrimination, you may be entitled to be reinstated to your position, or if you are denied a rental housing unit, you may be awarded the same or a similar unit.
Frequently Asked Questions About Discrimination
Do I need to have been fired to have an employment discrimination claim?
No, it is possible to have suffered discrimination in the workplace without being fired. You may experience discrimination if you suffer any form of adverse employment action, such as not being hired to a position, not being promoted, not receiving pay or compensation equal to similarly-situated co-workers. Or you may be subjected to sexual harassment or other harassment that is so pervasive that having to endure it becomes a condition of your employment.
What is the difference between race discrimination and color discrimination?
Race discrimination involves discriminating against an individual or group based on their racial group. Color discrimination involves discriminating on the basis of skin pigmentation. Thus, it is possible for someone to discriminate against a member of their own ethnic group based on that individual’s skin color. Of course, it is also entirely possible for someone to discriminate against someone based on some characteristic even if they share that characteristic.
What does being “similarly situated” mean?
Identifying someone as being similarly situated to an individual claiming discrimination is useful to determine whether that individual actually suffered discrimination. For example, if someone claims discrimination in equal pay/compensation, it will be necessary to look at other similarly situated co-workers to determine whether there is a disparity in pay. A similarly-situated co-worker may have similar education, training, experience, seniority, and job responsibilities as a claimant.
Contact Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Discrimination Attorney
If you believe that you have been the victim of discriminatory conduct, don’t wait another day to begin to pursue the relief and compensation that you are entitled to under the law. Contact the dedicated, results-focused discrimination lawyer Stuart Higgins, founder of Higgins Law Firm, PLLC today at (515) 619-9148 to schedule a consultation to learn more about your legal rights and options.