Workplace discrimination can be a distressing experience for employees.
Fortunately, the law provides a framework to address workplace discrimination. If you find yourself facing discrimination at work, it is important to know the key elements necessary to assert your legal rights.
1. Identifying discrimination
The foundation of any discrimination lawsuit is a clear identification of discriminatory practices. In Washington, D.C., the federal and local laws prohibit discrimination based on various factors, including race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability. It is important to document instances where you believe discrimination occurred, noting the date, time and details of each incident. Take note of patterns, since a series of discriminatory actions can strengthen your case.
2. Establishing adverse employment action
To build a strong case, you must demonstrate that you suffered an adverse employment action as a result of the discrimination. Adverse actions can include being passed over for a promotion, denial of a lateral transfer, receiving unfavorable performance evaluations, demotion, or termination. It is necessary to connect the discriminatory behavior to these adverse actions, either through direct evidence (such as sexist remarks in the workplace), or through showing that others who are not in the same protected category were not discriminated against. Keep a record of any negative changes in your employment status and gather supporting evidence, such as emails, memos or witness testimonies.
3. Exhausting administrative remedies
Before filing a lawsuit, employees in Washington, D.C. usually must exhaust administrative remedies by filing a complaint with the appropriate government agency, such as the D.C. Office of Human Rights or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This step is important in the legal process and a necessity before pursuing litigation. Be diligent in following the agency’s procedures, as failure to do so may jeopardize your case.
Unfortunately, workplace discrimination continues to have a presence in the modern world. In FY2022, the EEOC received 73,485 discrimination charges.