Over 61,000 claims of employment discrimination were filed last year at the federal level. Although many hope that workplace discrimination is a thing of the past, the ugly truth is that it is a major concern for thousands of Americans in the workforce today.
The employment law attorneys of DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC provide some insight on the most common challenges in work discrimination claims. Work discrimination claims can be complicated, and it’s highly advisable to work with an experienced lawyer when filing your claim.
If you have questions about the process and potential difficulties of a workplace discrimination claim, contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. A meeting to receive expert legal advice from one of our attorneys does not put you under any obligation to work with our law firm on your claim.
What Is a Work Discrimination Claim?
Work discrimination is illegal, but it happens repeatedly in workplaces across West Virginia. A work discrimination claim serves to expose any form of unlawful and wrongful treatment in the workplace. When an employee is treated unfairly based solely on factors that have nothing to do with their work performance, they have a legal right and responsibility to speak up.
The employment law attorneys at our law firm routinely advocate for individuals who suffered discrimination at their place of employment. By filing a work discrimination claim, we aim to put an end to discriminatory behavior and make each workplace a safer, more equitable environment for everyone.
Even one instance of discrimination is enough to bring a work discrimination claim against an employer. When it comes to employment discrimination, silence never solves the problem.
The Most Common Examples of Workplace Discrimination
Discrimination, as defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), is different and less favorable treatment of a person for a specific reason. It may come in the form of:
- Gender discrimination
- Racial discrimination
- Religious discrimination
- Discrimination based on physical or mental disability
- Discrimination against pregnant employees
- Age discrimination (over the age of 40)
- Discrimination based on national origin
Employment discrimination can manifest in many different ways. It may be that an employee experiences wrongful termination, harassment, improper questions, or denial of a promotion for one of the reasons listed above.
Much like most types of liability claims, it’s not uncommon for an employer to vehemently deny claims of discrimination and fight to avoid accountability for wrongful actions. At the law firm of DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we are all too familiar with the common challenges in work discrimination claims. Part of our job entails helping clients stand up for their rights, even when they don’t come easily.
Challenges You May Face When Filing Your Workplace Discrimination Claim
We help our clients who have faced discrimination file claims at both the state level, with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission (WVHRC), and at the federal level with the EEOC. Both of these agencies create laws making discrimination based on factors like those listed above an illegal practice.
In West Virginia, state laws apply to employers with 12 or more employees, and federal laws apply to employers with 15 or more employees. There are situations in which a victim of discrimination can file with one agency and cross-file with the other. Your employment law attorney can advise you of when and where to file.
In our years of experience filing claims, these are some of the most common challenges in work discrimination claims:
There are strict statutes of limitations for filing work discrimination claims. If you are filing your claim with the WVHRC, you generally have only one year from the last incident of discrimination. If you are planning to file with the EEOC, in most cases you must do so within 300 days of the last date of discrimination. If you miss or confuse these deadlines, file your claim too late or with the wrong agency, your claim may be rendered invalid.
Lack of Evidence
Those filing work discrimination claims in West Virginia must provide evidence of the discriminatory act or behavior that occurred. If you do not have sufficient evidence to support your claim, it will be easy for an employer to argue that it did not happen.
You may need to provide documents and evidence such as:
- Handwritten notes
- Employer policies, procedures, contracts, and other documents
- Text messages, social media messages, or other private electronic messages
- Photographs or video footage
- Work attendance records
- Proof of your employer’s knowledge of your background, status, or disability
- Statistical evidence showing you were treated differently from other employees under the same circumstances
- Witness or expert witness testimony
You’ll also need legal knowledge of the state and federal laws applicable to your case in order to prove that your employer violated anti-discrimination laws. This can be a particular challenge to many people unfamiliar with the fine details of employment law. Having an experienced lawyer by your side can be highly valuable when moving forward with your work discrimination claim.
Not Knowing What Remedies You Are Entitled To
After discrimination occurs, a remedy is an action that intends to return the victim to the same or similar position they were in prior to suffering discrimination. Remedies depend on the circumstances of the discrimination, but usually involve compensating the victim’s losses, stopping the discriminatory behavior, and preventing discrimination from continuing in the future.
You may be entitled to remedies such as:
- Back pay
- Reinstatement to your former position
- Receiving a promotion you should have been given
- Noneconomic damages such as emotional anguish or damage to one’s reputation
- Punitive damages for egregious discriminatory practices
- Costs associated with filing your claim, such as court fees or expert witness fees
Fear of Retaliation
Retaliation is the act of punishing an employee for exercising their legal rights. For example, if an employee files a work discrimination claim and is later fired for a questionable reason, it is likely an act of retaliation. Firing, demoting, harassing, disciplining, reducing pay, changing shifts, or generally creating a hostile work atmosphere for the employee can all be seen as forms of retaliation.
Retaliation is illegal, but it’s understandable that employees often let the threat of retaliation stop them from advocating for their legal rights at work. This makes retaliation one of the most common challenges in work discrimination claims, and sadly one that stands in the way of justice for many individuals. Another reason working with an employment law attorney is so important is that you can be sure they will protect you from unlawful retaliation.
Overcoming Challenges in Work Discrimination Claims
After experiencing discrimination at work, it’s wise to contact an employment law attorney who is familiar with the common challenges in work discrimination claims. An experienced lawyer will help you fully understand your rights and legal options. Filing a claim on your own is possible, but not usually the best way to secure a favorable outcome.
If you have questions about how to file a work discrimination claim in West Virginia, contact the personal injury law office of DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC. We can use our expertise to help you overcome challenges in work discrimination claims. Remember that deadlines for filing claims pass quickly. If you’re considering filing a claim, act soon before the window of opportunity closes.