Workplace discrimination is an unfortunate reality that affects numerous employees across various industries. It is a practice that not only creates a hostile work environment but also infringes upon the rights of individuals as outlined by state and federal laws.
Workplace discrimination occurs when an employer treats an individual or a group unfavorably due to their race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. Such behavior can manifest in hiring practices, promotions, job assignments, training, pay, benefits, layoffs, and firing.
In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees. The law applies to employers with four or more employees and covers areas that include, but are not limited to, hiring, promotion, dismissal, compensation, and harassment.
Recognizing Workplace Discrimination: Five Scenarios
Recognizing discrimination in the workplace is the first step toward addressing it. Here are five fictional scenarios that illustrate different forms of workplace discrimination:
- Age discrimination: A 50-year-old employee is consistently overlooked for training opportunities offered to younger colleagues with less experience. Despite his seniority and proven track record, he feels sidelined due to his age.
- Race discrimination: A Hispanic employee has been with her company for three years. Lately, she has noticed her manager assigning her less significant tasks than her white colleagues, hindering her professional growth.
- Disability discrimination: An employee with a physical disability requests a reasonable accommodation to perform his duties effectively. His request is denied without any valid explanation, even though accommodating him would not cause undue hardship to the company.
- Sexual harassment: A female employee is regularly subjected to inappropriate comments and advances from a male colleague. She reports the incidents to her supervisor, who dismisses her complaints, contributing to a hostile work environment.
- Religious discrimination: A practicing Muslim experiences negative comments about his faith from his coworkers. His employer does nothing to stop this behavior, which has created a hostile work environment.
Reporting and Preventing Workplace Discrimination
If you believe you are a victim of workplace discrimination, it is crucial to take the following steps:
- Keep detailed records: Document every incident of discrimination, including dates, times, locations, the individuals involved, and any potential witnesses. This record will be valuable evidence if you file a formal complaint or legal claim.
- Report internally: Inform your supervisor, HR department, or another appropriate authority within your organization about the discrimination. Be sure to follow your company’s established procedures for reporting discrimination.
- Preserve evidence: Save any related emails, text messages, or other written communications that could indicate discrimination. Also, keep copies of performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, or other employment records that may be pertinent.
- Consult an attorney: If the discrimination continues after reporting it internally, or if you face retaliation for making a report, consult an attorney. They can guide you on the next steps, including filing a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Preventing workplace discrimination requires a collective effort. Employers must foster an inclusive work environment, provide diversity and sensitivity training, and enforce a firm anti-discrimination policy. On the other hand, employees should respect their colleagues’ rights and report discriminatory behaviors.
Our Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Can Protect Your Rights
Discrimination in the workplace is a serious issue that infringes upon individual rights. If you are facing workplace discrimination in Pennsylvania, know that you are not alone. Speak with our Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We are a premier law firm with decades of experience. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.