The average full-time employee spends nearly one-third of their week at work. With so much time devoted to employers, employees should feel safe in their work environment—physically and emotionally. In the event discrimination occurs in the workplace, it’s important to understand what your legal options are. A Charleston discrimination lawyer from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC is ready to help.
Employment and labor laws prohibit discriminatory and unfair treatment of employees. When an employee faces discrimination or harassment at work, they have the right to take legal action to hold their employer accountable. Filing a claim is a complex process, which is why it’s crucial to have a strong legal representative by your side.
In order to get a general idea of what it’s like to file an employment discrimination claim, let’s start by taking a look at the laws that forbid discrimination.
Employment Discrimination in Charleston
Any employee, regardless of the industry or type of work, can be discriminated against. Taking legal action for such a matter in Charleston can be complicated, especially when it comes to proving negligence on the part of your employer. That’s why it’s important to have an employment law attorney by your side.
Discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by law. Not only are their federal guidelines that state what is considered discriminatory, but every state establishes its own laws as well. If you find yourself in a position where you believe you need to file a claim against a negligent employer, you’ll want to have a general understanding of the applicable laws and how they can prove you’ve been mistreated.
Federal Employment Discrimination Laws
The federal laws outlawing employment discrimination are a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—especially Title VII. This protects workers and potential employees from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, or sex. Employers cannot base employment decisions like hiring, firing, transfers, job assignments, raises and pay, discipline, or promotions on those areas.
The following federal laws also prohibit workplace discrimination:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- Equal Pay Act (EPA)
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
- Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
West Virginia Human Rights Act
The West Virginia Human Rights Act makes it illegal for any employer to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, blindness, religion, color, ancestry, and national origin. In the event an employee feels they’ve been discriminated against, they have the right to file a claim with either the state administrative agency or the federal administrative agency.
Types of Workplace Discrimination
As mentioned, there are laws that protect employees from a variety of harassment and discrimination types. In the event you believe you’ve been discriminated against, you’ll need to understand the type of claim you’re filing. The following are some of the forms of discrimination that are considered illegal:
- Gender. Employees are not to be discriminated against because of their gender. This includes all terms and conditions of employment, including hiring, compensation, promotion, treatment, and termination. In addition to that, employers are not allowed to make decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance capability of an employee based on their gender.
- Race. Individuals cannot be treated less favorably, receive fewer job or promotional opportunities, or be terminated on the basis of their race.
- National Origin. Similar to race, employees cannot be treated differently or poorly because of their national origin.
- Age. Age discrimination laws specifically apply to workers age 40 and over. Employees cannot be mistreated or harassed based on their age.
- Disability. The Americans with Disability Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. An employer cannot deny an employee reasonable workplace accommodations.
- Pregnancy. Pregnancy discrimination laws protect employees from less favorable treatment, fewer workplace opportunities, termination, and refusal to hire. The laws also protect employees in the event their employer denies them maternity leave or refuses to hire them because they are pregnant.
- Sexual Orientation. Federal law protects employees from retaliation by their employers for opposing unlawful discriminatory practices and for participating in the process of correcting discrimination relating to sexual orientation.
- Religion. Employers cannot discriminate against an employee because of their religious beliefs. In addition to that, employers have to provide reasonable accommodations for religious practices and beliefs.
- Political Affiliation. Federal employees are protected against discrimination based on political affiliation, which includes coercion of a federal employee to perform a political activity and discrimination for refusing to participate in a political activity.
- Family Responsibility. Family responsibility discrimination is an umbrella term used for discrimination based on biases about how employees with caregiving responsibilities will or should act.
No matter the type of discrimination you’ve suffered, you deserve justice. A Charleston discrimination lawyer can help you file your claim and hold your employer accountable for their actions.
Filing an Employment Discrimination Claim
Prior to filing a claim, it’s a good idea to seek an opinion from an employment law attorney. A lawyer from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC can look into your situation and determine how best to proceed.
You can file your claim with either the West Virginia Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The two agencies have a work-sharing agreement, which means that they cooperate with each other to process claims.
You do not need to file with both commissions, assuming you indicate to one of the agencies that you want to cross-file the claim. It’s important to note that the West Virginia Human Rights Commission cannot accept complaints against any employer who is an agent of the Federal Government or any employer which does not employ 12 or more employees within the state. If your employer falls into either of those categories, you’ll want to file your claim with the EEOC.
If you file with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, there are five steps to the complaint process:
- File the complaint within 365 days of the date of the most recent date of discrimination.
- An investigator will make a recommendation based on their findings.
- Conciliation is attempted.
- An Administrative law judge will conduct a public hearing.
- The judge’s decision can be appealed and reviewed by the nine commissioners who are appointed by the governor.
If you file with the EEOC it’s important to note that you only have 300 days within the date you believe you were discriminated against to file. Once you file, the following will happen:
- You’ll receive a copy of your charge with your charge number.
- A notice will be sent to your employer within ten days.
- You and your employer could be asked to take part in a mediation program.
- Your employer could be asked to provide written answers to your complaint and the matter will be investigated.
- Your claim could be dismissed.
If your case is successfully resolved by either administrative agency, you will be able to move forward. If, however, that does not happen, you and your lawyer will need to consider pursuing further legal action by means of a lawsuit.
Holding Negligent Employees Accountable in West Virginia
If you’ve been subject to workplace discrimination, a Charleston discrimination lawyer from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC can help. Employees should not be forced to tolerate discrimination of any kind, which is why our employment lawyers will work vigorously to uphold your rights as an employee and a resident of West Virginia.
To learn more about filing a workplace discrimination claim, or to determine if you have grounds to file such a claim, schedule a consultation with our law firm today. We’ll review your situation and help you determine how best to proceed. Contact us today for more information.