What Do I Do If I Have Been Discriminated Against?
Discrimination happens, but it is not always unlawful.
Discrimination happens every day. An employer focuses only on candidates that have a certain amount of attention to detail because the job requires it. The employer’s discernment is a form of lawful discrimination. But if the employer decided that only a certain race, sex, or other protected class could be as attentive as the job required, that would be unlawful discrimination.
It might be helpful to first distinguish what discrimination is not. Personality conflicts are not discrimination. Pettiness is not discrimination. Corporate politics is not discrimination.
Both federal and state law protects individuals from unlawful discrimination based on the employee’s race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, or disability. The Civil Rights Act provides protections enforced by the EEOC, and Texas Labor Code, Chapter 21, provides protections enforced by the Texas Workforce Commission.
In Texas, the cities of Corpus Christi, Austin, and Fort Worth each have an enforcement agency because those cities have enacted anti-discrimination ordinances that mirror the Texas Labor Code and the Civil Rights Act.
Before you file a complaint or lawsuit, make sure that you have thoroughly documented your allegations. Subjective claims of discrimination (e.g. “I feel like I was discriminated because . . .”) are often the least successful claims. Emails, video, audio, text messages, memos, or a running journal are all helpful forms of documentation.
Your friends will not support you. This is hard to hear, but your co-workers who were your friends will not testify on your behalf unless they are forced to. It’s human nature. Your co-workers will likely care more about their own livelihood than they will about justice for you. You cannot count on them.
Before you file a complaint or lawsuit, ask a lawyer for advice. Lawsuits are emotionally difficult. You need to know what you are signing up for before you go down that road.