Currently Browsing: Work Laws

Fighting Discrimination in the Workplace

Remaining to keep silent, where unjust and illegal employment practices are prevalent, only makes such practices more unjust and cruel; besides, there is no guarantee that the silent witness will be spared from the unjust practices that he/she is trying so hard to ignore.

On its website, Cary Kane LLP, a firm based in New York, speaks of the state and federal laws which provide legal protection to employees from discriminatory acts based on religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, ethnic identity, race or any other factor that will have nothing to do with proper job performance. These laws, the firm’s article further states, are meant to safeguard individuals from being mistreated, from being fired or from not being hired.

Though many discriminatory practices in the workplace have already been exposed and many of those guilty, whether employer, co-worker or client, have been brought to justice, the battle to finally stop workplace discrimination seems to be still far from being won. But to make sure that there will always be employees who will find the courage to expose these unjust practices, other laws have been passed to make it easy to identify and bring to the open these illegalities and their perpetrators.

These anti- discrimination laws in the workplace are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which was passed in 1964. EEOC’s first task was to implement the Civil Rights Act (also passed in 1964), a protection for employees against employment discrimination. The enforcement of other employee-protection laws that were passed either before or after 1964 were placed under the scope of EEOC too, these include the Equal Pay Act (EPA)of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, Sections 102 and 103 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (these are improvements of the Civil Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2009, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which is an amendment on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Another employee protection that EEOC provides, but which may not have been discussed extensively in the past, is protection against retaliation. While some retaliatory acts (like change in work shift, or job relocation) are made with subtlety to make them least apparent, others are immediately obvious; examples of these are denial of promotion or a raise, demotion, being fired from work or reduction in salary. In the event that the whistle-blowing employee decides to resign from work, bad referencing can still be considered as an act of employer retaliation.

Any illegal employment practice will have to be reported to the EEOC first and, to make sure that reports or complaints are filed immediately, a time limit for filing or a statute of limitation, has been imposed by EEOC. One positive thing about this time limit is that it will not allow the complainant or whistle-blower to tarry with reporting what he/she knows; this will, in turn, enable the authorities to immediately correct the unjust practices being committed.