Can I Be Fired For Reporting Workplace Discrimination?

Submitted by rtg on

American workers have the right to report issues like workplace discrimination without fear of retaliation. It’s against the law for an employer to fire you because you’ve filed a report of discrimination in the workplace. It’s worth noting you have the right to report workplace discrimination against yourself or any of your coworkers.

Do you believe you’ve lost your job for reporting discrimination? You may have grounds to take legal action if so.

What is Workplace Discrimination?

Workplace discrimination can take many forms. Generally, discrimination in the workplace occurs when someone is treated less favorably than other employees due to such protected characteristics as their:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity/national origin
  • Sex
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Religion

That’s not necessarily a complete list. Be aware, employment law varies from state to state, meaning not all states have the same protected classes.

Examples of discrimination in the workplace include:

  • Not promoting someone or giving them a raise they’ve earned due to a protected characteristic
  • Disciplining someone more harshly than other employees
  • Firing or refusing to hire someone due to a protected characteristic
  • Harassing an employee or allowing an employee to be harassed

Those are just a few examples. Whether you experience workplace discrimination directly or you observe someone else experiencing it, you have the right to report your concerns to HR or an agency responsible for addressing these matters.

What is Retaliation?

Retaliation occurs when an employer takes unfavorable action against an employee for reporting workplace discrimination or otherwise drawing negative attention to the company. An employer might retaliate against an employee for simply cooperating with an investigation into matters like workplace discrimination.

Potential forms of retaliation in the workplace include:

  • Denying an employee a promotion or raise
  • Harshly disciplining an employee
  • Requiring an employee to work undesirable shifts or to perform undesirable tasks
  • Not allowing an employee to participate in professional development opportunities

Firing an employee for reporting workplace discrimination is a form of retaliation. Because retaliation is illegal, you can potentially take legal action if you’ve lost a job for reporting discrimination.

What To Do If You Were Fired For Reporting Discrimination

Take the following steps if you believe an employer fired you for reporting discrimination:

  • Gather any evidence you can to support your allegations (such as emails, chat logs, witness statements, documentation of past workplace discrimination/retaliation, etc.).
  • Speak with an attorney to learn more about your rights.
  • File a retaliation claim, which will be separate from the initial discrimination claim you filed.

Depending on the circumstances, filing a claim may be a means of seeking financial compensation. Or, you might file a claim to pursue reinstatement to your job.

Speak With an Employment Lawyer

Speaking with an attorney who handles employment law cases can help you better understand how you may hold an employer accountable when they fire you for reporting workplace discrimination. Allowing a lawyer to handle your case can also give you more time to focus on other priorities, such as seeking new employment. Get started today by taking the Free Case Evaluation to speak with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to the website.

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