woman being harassed in the workplace by a male superiorNot every workplace is a supportive, uplifting place to be, but there is a difference between not feeling welcomed at work and being the target of discrimination. As Seattle employment lawyers who fight for the civil rights of workers in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, we help clients determine whether they have cause for an employment discrimination lawsuit by looking at how they have been treated. We offer some guidelines for recognizing when unfriendly or negative treatment crosses into illegal territory.

Signs That You Might Be a Target of Employment Discrimination

Employment discrimination occurs when an employee or job applicant is treated unfairly or differently based on their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, or other protected characteristics.

Recognizing the signs of employment discrimination is crucial for safeguarding your rights and dignity as an employee. Some common signs of employment discrimination include the following:

  • Unequal treatment. One of the most apparent signs of employment discrimination is when an employee who is a member of a protected class receives unequal treatment compared to others in similar positions. This could involve disparities in pay, benefits, promotions, or job assignments without any justifiable reason.
  • Offensive comments or jokes. Discriminatory remarks or jokes based on an individual's protected characteristics are clear indicators of a discriminatory work environment. Such behavior can create a hostile workplace and contribute to a toxic atmosphere.
  • Exclusion and isolation. Employees who are deliberately excluded from meetings, social gatherings, or important discussions may be experiencing discrimination. Being isolated from professional opportunities and social interactions can have adverse effects on an employee's morale and career growth.
  • Retaliation for reporting discrimination. If an employee faces adverse actions, such as demotion, termination, or negative performance evaluations, after reporting incidents of discrimination, it could be a sign of retaliation. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights to report discrimination.
  • Disparate impact. Discrimination can also manifest as a disparate impact on a particular group, even if there is no overt discriminatory intent. For example, a company's hiring practices that disproportionately exclude certain racial or gender groups could indicate systemic discrimination.
  • Lack of diversity. An organization's lack of diversity in its workforce, particularly in leadership and decision-making positions, might indicate underlying discriminatory practices in hiring and promoting employees.
  • Inconsistent application of policies. If company policies and rules are applied differently to different employees based on their protected characteristics, it could signal discrimination. Employers must ensure uniformity in policy application across the workforce.
  • Harassment. Harassment based on protected characteristics, such as sexual harassment, racial harassment, or religious harassment, can be an unmistakable sign of employment discrimination. Harassment can create a hostile work environment and should never be tolerated.
  • Lack of reasonable accommodations. Employers are legally required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities to enable them to perform their job duties. A lack of willingness to accommodate an employee's disability may indicate discrimination.

Whether you have a viable case for discrimination will depend on the exact circumstances of your situation. The sooner you call an employment lawyer to explain what's happening, the sooner you can get started building a case if one is warranted.

What to Do If You Suspect Employment Discrimination

If you believe you are experiencing any of the signs mentioned above, it is essential to take appropriate steps to address the situation, including the following:

  1. Document incidents. Keep a record of all incidents related to discrimination, including dates, times, locations, and details of what transpired. Collect any relevant documents or communications as evidence.
  2. Report to Human Resources. If you feel comfortable doing so, report the discrimination to your company's Human Resources department. Many employers have specific policies and procedures in place to handle such complaints.
  3. Seek legal advice. Consult with an experienced employment attorney to understand your rights and potential legal options. They can guide you through the process and help you decide on the best course of action.

If you are unsure about whether you are the victim of discrimination or not, you have nothing to lose by calling The Blankenship Law Firm.