The civil rights laws in the United States exemplify the nation’s commitment to basic human rights and freedoms, including fair treatment. As an employee, you have federal and state rights protecting you against discrimination in the workplace.
Employment discrimination occurs when an employee or job applicant is treated unfairly or unfavorably because of their race, skin color, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or age. In accordance with federal and state laws, it is illegal to discriminate in any facet of employment. In Arkansas, the anti-discrimination laws are established by the Arkansas General Assembly and regulated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
If you’ve suffered from workplace discrimination, you’re not alone. Thousands of employees file claims every year with the EEOC. In order to have your claim handled fairly, you may need to consider legal representation. That’s where we come in. The Little Rock employment discrimination lawyers at McMath Woods P.A., are skilled in these types of cases.
To understand what your rights are as a victim of workplace discrimination, let’s first go over what is classified as discrimination.
The Different Types of Discrimination
The EEOC keep track of the discrimination complaints filed to the agency. In 2017, there were nearly 130,000 complaints filed. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the types of complaints:
- Retaliation – 48.8 percent
- Race – 33.9 percent
- Disability – 31.9 percent
- Sex/Gender – 25.6 percent
- Age – 21.8 percent
- National Origin – 9.8 percent
- Religion – 4.1 percent
- Color – 3.8 percent
- Equal Pay Act – 1.2 percent
- Genetic Information – 0.2 percent
Let’s take a closer look at the specific types of discrimination an employee or job candidate may be subjected to.
Age. Age discrimination occurs when an employee or applicant is treated less favorably because of their age. The Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older. It is not considered illegal for an employee to favor an older worker over a younger one.
Age harassment can include offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s age. The harasser can be a supervisor, coworker, or client/customer.
Disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause undue hardship. An employee or applicant cannot be treated less favorably because of pre-existing conditions or physical or mental impairment. It is also illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee who has a family member, like a spouse, with a disability.
In order to be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, an individuals must be able to prove their disability qualifies by meeting one of the following criteria: (1) a physical or mental condition exists that substantially limits major life activity, (2) there is a history of disability, (3) there is an existing physical or mental impairment that is expected to last six months or less.
Equal Pay. The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. Job content determines the equality of the positions, not titles. The forms of pay covered are salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits.
Genetic Information. Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, employers are not allowed to use genetic information to make employment decisions. They are not allowed to request, require, or purchase genetic information. Genetic information includes information on genetic tests, both individual and familial, and information on diseases and disorders.
Harassment. Harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex/gender, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Harassment is considered illegal if it becomes a condition of employment or it creates a hostile work environment.
Harassment violates the Civil Rights Act, the ADEA, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
National Origin. Nation origin discrimination occurs when an employer treats an applicant or employee unfavorably because of where they’re from, as well as their ethnicity, accent, or assumed ethnic background.
Pregnancy. Women may be discriminated against in the workplace if they are treated unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids this type of discrimination.
Race/Color. Race discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee or applicant unfavorably because of their race or personal characteristics associated with race (i.e. hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features). Color discrimination is directly related to treating someone unfairly because of their complexion.
Religion. Religious discrimination involves treating a person unfairly because of their religious beliefs. This includes traditional, organized religions, as well as ethical and moral beliefs. Religious discrimination also happens when an employee is treated unfavorably because of the religion their spouse follows.
Retaliation. The majority of workplace discrimination claims are filed in regard to retaliation. Retaliation occurs when job applicants or employees are punished for asserting their rights to be free from discrimination and harassment. This right is protected under the Equal Employment Opportunity laws.
Sex/gender. Sex/gender-based discrimination occurs when an employee or applicant is treated unfavorably because of their gender, biological sex, or sexual orientation. Discrimination claims are often made in regard to gender identity, transgender status, and sexual orientation.
Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment may include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical or verbal harassments of a sexual nature. Offensive comments about a person’s sex are also considered a form of sexual harassment. Both the victim and harasser can be either a woman or a man.
The Benefit of Working with a Little Rock Employment Discrimination Lawyer
Arkansas does not have a specific state administrative agency dedicated to accepting and investigating workplace discrimination claims, so you will need to file your claim with your local EEOC office. In most cases, you only have 180 days after the discriminatory incident occurred to file your claim. If you are unhappy with the results from the EEOC, seeking legal representation is your best bet.
In order to prove your discrimination claim, it’s likely you will work with your attorney to gather the following forms of evidence: your personnel file, the employee handbook and company policies, physical evidence of the discrimination, medical and mental health records, and witness information.
An Arkansas employment discrimination lawyer can help you file your claim and successfully prove your workplace discrimination case. You may be eligible for the following damages: back pay, front pay, lost benefits such as health, vacation, sick leave, and pensions, reinstatement, reasonable accommodations, or compensatory and punitive damages.
We have decades of experience with employment law, and our extensive knowledge of federal and state regulations will help you obtain justice and appropriate compensation. For a free evaluation of your claim, contact us today.