Employment Discrimination FAQs
Below are some frequently asked questions about discrimination law. Want more information? Read about federal and state discrimination laws and laws about sexual harassment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Employment Discrimination
I applied for a job and I think they didn't hire me because I am a woman. Is that discrimination? The discrimination laws apply to hiring decisions as well as termination or discipline decisions. Often discrimination in hiring is more difficult to prove because you have limited information about why they made their decision. But job applicants have the same rights to claim discrimination as employees.
I was the only person of color in my workplace and I was fired. Is that discrimination? It could be, but this depends on other facts as well. If you were fired for something that white co-workers do without penalty, you might have evidence of discrimination. Negative comments made about your race, color or ethnicity by a manager could also help prove bias.
What if my manager or supervisor is also a member of a protected class? It is possible for a member of one protected class to discriminate against another. It is even possible for members of the same protected class to discriminate. Women have brought discrimination claims based on the conduct of a supervisor who was also female. This happens most commonly where the supervisor is a white woman and the employee a person of color.
I have a disability or medical condition that interferes with my ability to do my job. What are my rights? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar state laws protects you if you have a disability. You have a right to reasonable accommodations if that would allow you to do the essential functions of your job. Some disabilities can't be accommodated. If you cannot see there is probably no way to help you do a job that requires driving as an essential function. But if you need something your employer can provide, they are required to provide it. Common examples include a different chair or keyboard, assistive technology, different work schedule, or wheelchair accessible office.
My manager seems uncomfortable with me because I am gay. Do I have rights? In Massachusetts, discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identify is illegal. like any other kind of discrimination, you still have to prove this is the reason for any adverse action. But you are protected under Massachusetts state laws.
My supervisor makes lewd comments to me every day. What can I do? Both state and federal laws prohibit sexual harassment. If these comments are frequent enough, you could be facing a hostile work environment. This can be the basis for a claim of sexual harassment. You also have a right to report this behavior to someone else in the company without fear of retaliation.
I recently returned to work from maternity leave and my boss is not giving me the same opportunities as others. I am worried that this will affect my long term advancement in the company. Is this discrimination? This is a real concern, and unfortunately a common experience. The different treatment in terms of job assignments may not yet be an actionable adverse action yet. If it results in a denial of promotion or raise you might have a claim for gender discrimination or pregnancy discrimination.
My manager is making comments about my national origin. I am afraid to report it because I don't know how management will react. Your employer is not allowed to take action against you for reporting discrimination. You should either go to the human resources representative in your company or someone else you trust. You should be clear in your report that you feel you are subject to discrimination.
I am being bullied at work. Is that a hostile work environment? Unfortunately, a lot of workplace bullying is not illegal. If you are targeted because of your gender, race, sexual orientation or other protected class you may have a claim. If the bullying is sexual in nature, you may have a sexual harassment claim. But if the behavior is just bad office politics or immature behavior, it is probably not unlawful.
How do I bring a discrimination claim? The first step to the legal process is filing a charge of discrimination. You can do this either at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. You will have the right to remove your case from the agency and file it in court if you choose to do so later. Read more about what to expect as a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit.
How Can We Help?
We can help you navigate these issues and get clarity on your rights and obligations if you are facing employment decisions that you think are the result of discrimination. You can use the button below to schedule a call back from a member of our team, give us a call at 781-784-2322, or fill out our web form to let us know a little more about your situation.
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