KNOW YOUR RIGHTS UNDER EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION LAWS
You need to know that you have the absolute right to a “discrimination free” work place. All government agencies and municipalities are covered under both Texas laws and federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination, and all private employers that employ at least 15 to 20 employees are covered under Texas and federal anti-discrimination laws. These laws are there to protect you from discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability. In addition, each statute prohibits retaliation by the employer against you for filing a complaint or participating in an investigation of someone else’s complaint.
In addition, there are many state laws that protect you from other types of retaliation–retaliation from filing a workers’ comp claim; retaliation from filing a report of neglect or abuse if you are a child care worker; retaliation from reporting neglect or abuse if you work for a nursing home or mental health facility, and retaliation from “whistleblowing” if you are a government employee. The law also protects you if you’re fired for refusing to commit an illegal or criminal act at work. There are many laws that protect you at work and you need dedicated and experienced attorneys to fight for you when you are unlawfully terminated, suspended, demoted, reprimanded or harassed.
Now, for those employees who work for an employer who is covered under state and federal employment discrimination statutes, what do you do if you feel you are the victim of discrimination at work? TELL SOMEBODY!!! Let me say that again–TELL SOMEBODY! Most employers have a human resources or personnel department, or someone who is designated to receive and investigate complaints of workplace-related discrimination. Most employers have a employee guide with an anti-discrimination policy or guideline which tells you how to file a complaint and to whom you should file your complaint. If your employer has such a policy, please follow the policy as closely as possible to preserve your rights and your complaint. However, some employers do not have an anti-discrimination policy or a human resources/personnel department; and many times the person who is alleged to have perpetrated the discriminatory acts is a manager or supervisor. So who do you tell? If there is no human resources person, complain to your manager’s boss, and always do it in writing with a copy for yourself. That is the first step. Many people do not take this first step because they are afraid of retaliation, or losing their jobs. These are real concerns; however, in order to protect yourself from further discrimination and abuse on the job, you must take that first step. The next step is to allow your employer to conduct an investigation into your allegations. If the investigation is negative, or you don’t believe the investigation was adequate, or there was no investigation, then you may want to take further action.
Further action may take the form of filing a formal charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(“EEOC”), the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division(“TWCCRD”) or other local agency such as the Austin Human Rights Commission(if you live in Austin) or the Corpus Christi Human Relations Commission(if you live in Corpus Christi). In order to preserve your rights under the law, you must file your charge with the EEOC within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory incident or with a state/local agency within 180 days of the incident. If you live in San Antonio, the EEOC office is located at 5410 Fredericksburg Road, on the second floor. Filing a charge with the EEOC will automatically file your charge with the TWCCRD based on a “work sharing” agreement as long as the charge is filed within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory conduct. The most important thing to remember if you feel you have been discriminated against is to preserve your rights under the law--report it to someone within the company; then if you don’t feel you have gotten a satisfactory result, file a charge with the EEOC.
Confused? That’s why you need us to represent you whenever you file a charge with the EEOC or any government agency when you feel you have been discriminated against or unlawfully fired. Forte & Pittard, P.L.L.C. has successfully represented hundreds of employees in causes of action against employers and we have recovered damages for clients for lost wages, mental anguish, emotional distress and other types of damages. Forte & Pittard, P.L.L.C. has experienced employment law attorneys that are willing to stand and fight for your rights in the workplace, and to help you recover damages that result from your employer’s discriminatory conduct.
Do you have questions or do you want to make an appointment in this area?
Call us at (210) 678-3075 or use our contact form.