Employment discrimination

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Updated: 3/18/2003 2:37 pm
The use of any employment selection procedure based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, or disability is considered illegal under federal law. Most state and local laws protect workers on the same grounds as the federal law, but some also protect against discrimination for other reasons such as marital status or sexual orientation. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for interpreting and enforcing anti-discrimination laws, investigating complaints of employment discrimination, and initiating legal action when necessary. Employment practices considered discriminatory by the commission include bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, and compensation. If you believe you've experienced unfair discrimination in the workplace, it's recommended that you first contact your human resources department, provided one exists at your company, as they're responsible for handling complaints of discrimination. Always put your complaint in writing and suggest a meeting to discuss the details of your complaint. Provide the person assigned to your case with all pertinent information, but be sure to keep copies of everything for yourself as well. You'll also want to document everything that transpires between you and the person investigating your complaint. If an agreement can't be reached between you and your employer in remedying the discriminatory situation, your next step is to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a state discrimination agency as soon as possible. Usually, the time limit in filing a complaint is either 180 or 300 days from the time the discriminatory act occurred. While there are some exceptions, the failure to file a complaint in time will mean that the discrimination can't be challenged. A broad range of remedies under both federal and state law are available to employees who are successful in employment discrimination lawsuits, including back pay, reinstatement, promotion, and reimbursement of attorney fees.

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