Employment Discrimination Attorneys in New Jersey
Workplace discrimination occurs when an employer or manager treats an employee differently for some reason. This is usually unfair or unfavorable treatment of one employee or a group of employees.
Federal and state laws prohibit workplace discrimination. But that does not stop employers from discriminating, whether they are aware of their violation.
Discrimination or Bad Management?
Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms. An employer could refuse to hire or promote someone of a certain race or gender. A manager could tell an employee they will only get a raise or promotion if they engage in sexual activity. These are clear examples of illegal workplace discrimination.
Workplace discrimination occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee or prospective employee because of their:
- National origin
- Citizenship status
- Genetic information
Besides these protected classes, employers also cannot take adverse action or retaliate against any employee who complains about workplace discrimination or otherwise participates in an investigation. Laws against workplace discrimination are broad, and it is intended to protect as many workers as possible.
However, workplace discrimination does not include a bad or toxic manager. If your manager yells at you, for example, for any reason or no reason, that is not a good environment, but it does not mean their actions are illegal workplace discrimination. But if that manager only yells at people of a certain race, you might have a valid claim.
Age discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employee aged 40 or older is discriminated against. Only certain companies are subject to this law:
- Companies with at least 20 employees
- Employment agencies and staffing agencies
- Government agencies
- Labor organizations with at least 25 members
Age discrimination becomes illegal when it creates a hostile work environment because of the employee’s age. This can occur during any stage of employment:
- Job ad
- Hiring process
- Job duties and responsibilities
- Performance evaluations
- Training and development
- Disciplinary actions
Common age discrimination examples are as follows:
- A company hires only younger people.
- An older employee hears a manager making age-related comments or insults, even if not directed at the older employee.
- An older employee is not being promoted or given a raise.
- An employee feels isolated or left out of company and job-related decisions.
- A manager or colleague suggests it is time for the employee to retire.
- Layoffs occur only for older employees.
Disability discrimination in the workplace occurs when a person with a disability is terminated, not hired, subject to a hostile work environment, or other adverse employment action because of their disability. Federal law prohibits this type of discrimination and requires employers to provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodation. Only private companies with at least 15 employees are subject to this law.
Only qualified workers are eligible for protections under this law. Disability under this law is anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits their ability to participate in major life activities. Major life activities are basic acts such as walking, eating, reading, and major bodily functions. To be eligible, an employee must be capable of doing the job, with or without reasonable accommodation.
If a worker meets these requirements, they are entitled to reasonable accommodation from their employer. A reasonable accommodation is something the employer must do to allow the employee to do the job. For example, providing a special workspace for an employee in a wheelchair would be a reasonable accommodation.
When a reasonable accommodation is not required is when doing so would cause the employer undue hardship. This means any act that is unreasonably expensive or difficult for the company to do. If an employer refuses to take a reasonable accommodation, the employee may have a valid claim.
Gender discrimination at work occurs when an employer treats an employee or job applicant unfairly because of their gender. Some states use the terms sex and gender interchangeably, even though they have different meanings.
Common examples of gender discrimination at work include:
- A job candidate not being hired because of their gender
- An employee being passed over for a promotion or raise because of their gender
- A manager holding an employee to higher standards because of their gender
- A worker receiving a harsh performance evaluation because of their gender
- Hearing derogatory comments about their gender from managers or colleagues, even if those comments are made generally and not directed at the specific employee
- Receiving unwelcomed sexual advances or requests for sexual favors
Even if an employer does not actively discriminate against a gender, their actions could still rise to the level of discrimination. A policy could be gender-neutral but have the effect of reducing the likelihood of hiring or promoting a certain sex. Even though this policy does not directly discriminate against a gender, the effect is still the same.
Workplace race discrimination occurs when an employer discriminates against an employee or job candidate because of their race. In some companies, race discrimination is obvious. In others, it is more subtle. Both are against the law.
Race discrimination often goes undetected because an employer can try to legitimize their employment decision without invoking race. When an employee is not hired, not promoted, not given a raise, placed on a performance improvement plan, or receives some other adverse employment action, and that action is taken because of the employee’s race, it is illegal discrimination.
For example, when a company only promotes white employees or the leadership of the organization is made up of only white employees, an employee may have a legitimate case for race discrimination. A more subtle example could occur when an employer refuses to hire or promote an employee based on a physical characteristic of their race.
However, race discrimination in the workplace does not have to be intentional. A company’s otherwise neutral policies could have the effect of racial discrimination if the policy disproportionately negatively impacts workers of a particular race. For example, a height requirement for a particular job may discriminate against races that are typically shorter in stature.
If an employee or prospective employee can show that a company policy has a disproportionate impact on members of a certain race, they may have a valid claim. An employer could try to defend their policy by saying there is a legitimate reason for the height requirement, for example. If the job duties require someone of a certain height, the employer’s argument may stand.
Proving Workplace Discrimination
If you have been subjected to workplace discrimination of any kind, it may seem like an uphill battle to act. That is why so many cases of workplace discrimination go unreported.
By gathering the right evidence, you can help bolster your case. Consider collecting information about or retaining information you receive:
- Emails and other company documents showing discrimination
- Medical records showing your disability, if applicable
- Video and photo evidence of your workplace
- Testimony from colleagues who have witnessed discrimination
- Your personal notes describing the discrimination you have faced
Although you might be reluctant to speak with colleagues or collect this information, remember that if your employer engages in retaliation against you, that further bolsters your case. Partnering with a trusted legal team can give you an advantage and help you feel more confident in your next steps.
Marlton Discrimination Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Protect the Rights of Workers
Workplace discrimination is more widespread than employers want to admit. Too many employees simply put up with the discrimination because they need a job or because they do not know their rights. In both situations, however, it is against the law. If you are facing discrimination at work, speak with the Marlton discrimination lawyers at Burnham Douglass today. Contact us online or call us at 856-751-5505 for a free consultation. We are in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, and we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, and Mercer County.