Filing an Official Complaint at Work
Your communication to your employer about your discrimination should take the form of an official complaint. Complaints should be in writing so that you can prove that you made a complaint. The first step in filing a discrimination complaint is to consult your company’s employee handbook. There you will find your company’s written procedures and policies outlining what action you should take. This is a crucial component of the process and failing to follow these official procedures could impact your chances at taking legal action at any point in the future. Once you know your company’s policy, you can then move your case forward by filing a written complaint to put your company on notice. After receiving the complaint, your company has the opportunity to remedy the issue through disciplinary action against the offender or a change in company policy. The attorneys at The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. can walk you through this process and help you make a complaint through the proper channels at your place of employment.
It’s essential also to know what constitutes discriminatory behavior in the eyes of the law. Disgruntled employees can’t file discrimination complaints based on their boss’ character flaws or any behavior they deem unfair. The complaint must specifically identify conduct that could be considered harassment or discriminatory based on character traits like religion, race, sexual preference, or gender. It can also cover unpaid wages or overtime. These complaints are considered “protected activity” for the employee, meaning they can make the complaint without fear of retaliation.
To defend themselves against discrimination or harassment complaints, employers may evoke affirmative defense, and if proved, will effectively stop your case from moving forward. To effectively use the affirmative defense, an employer must prove they took appropriate action to prevent and reverse all behavior that could be viewed as discriminatory, and the aggrieved employee failed to take advantage of these corrective or preventive measures.
What Happens Once You Contact an Attorney About Discrimination
After you have your free consultation with an employment law attorney from The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C., he or she will work with you to compile all the details of your racial or religious discrimination case.
This may include any documentation you have available, such as:
- Official complaint filed with the human resources department
- Any emails or written in-office communication that may document the discriminatory behavior against you
- Witness statements from fellow employees that saw what happened to you
- Any evidence of retaliatory behavior that occurred after you reported the mistreatment
- Any other supporting evidence that can benefit your case
The lawyer will send all the details of your complaint directly to your employer and give them a chance to respond to your claim. If they do not respond or if they deny your claim, then your lawyer will begin negotiating with their legal team to try and get you the compensation you deserve for suffering this negative and stressful work environment. This could include mediation, or the case may end up going to trial if a settlement cannot be reached outside of the courts.
Types of Compensation You May Be Able to Recover
In cases of religious and racial discrimination, there are various types and forms of compensation that you may be able to recover once your lawyer has proven that you faced these issues.
Types of damages may include:
- Back pay: This can be awarded if you were denied a raise or an advancement due to race or religion.
- Front pay: If you were let go because of your racial origins or religious beliefs, the company may be forced to pay you your salary for a specified amount of time.
- Lost wages: If you were suspended or lost any work time over discrimination, you may be able to recover lost wages.
- Emotional distress: There is no set amount for this type of compensation, but your attorney can help you build a case for an amount that is fair based on the emotional distress and personal hardship caused by your employer’s discriminatory actions.
- Reinstatement: If you lost your job due to reporting discrimination or because of direct discrimination, you may be able to be reinstated with the same salary and benefits.
The types of compensation available to you may depend on the severity of your discrimination and what exactly happened to you at your job.
Frequently Asked Questions About Racial and Religious Discrimination
At The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C., we are often contacted about potential cases of racial and religious discrimination at work. We’ve provided answers to some of the questions we often receive. However, an attorney can review your circumstances and answer your questions in detail.
My coworker made an offensive remark to me. Do I have a case against them?
Generally, if it was just one stray remark, and it was not to be abusive or hostile, you may not have a case for discrimination. They may have made an offhand remark and not thought much of it. However, if it becomes repetitive behavior and does not change once you report it to human resources, then you may have a case for discriminatory behavior. Always contact a lawyer in this instance to review your case.
What if I work at a small company? Am I still protected?
Any company is subject to anti-discrimination laws under New Jersey state regulations. Federal laws extend to organizations with 15 or more employees, but in New Jersey, all employers must adhere to these laws. If you work for a small company and are unsure if you are protected under these laws, call our legal team for more information.
If I’m fired for discriminatory reasons, should I continue looking for another job?
Yes, if you are fired, you should continue looking for another job. It will help your case to show that you are doing what you can to make the best of the situation — and if you are hired elsewhere, it could also show that you are a valued and good employee, which will also help to support your case.
Our Experienced Discrimination Attorneys Can Help
Unfortunately, racial and religious discrimination happens at workplaces across the United States. If you face this kind of negative behavior at work, you may be entitled to compensation if your employer did not take the proper steps to stop it, or if they penalized you for your race or religion.
If you think you have been a victim of discrimination, our legal team at The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. may be able to help you. Contact us today at (856) 746-6332 to tell us about your case. We’ll review your legal rights and options with you and determine how we can help you recover damages.