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Steps to take if you’re a victim of discrimination

Experiencing discrimination at work exacts a significant toll on workers, creating not only economic harm, such as being fired, not being hired, not receiving a promotion and increased salary, but also may be demoralizing, causing significant stress, anger and other emotional distress. Often, discriminatory conduct lasts over several weeks, months and even years, amounting to a discriminatory pattern or atmosphere, rather than consisting of a single, discreet discriminatory event.

If you believe you have been the victim of a pattern of discrimination, you should take several steps to protect yourself.

For example, if a supervisor or colleague’s actions at works make you feel uncomfortable, document it. Even if you don’t believe one action rises to the level of discrimination, taken as a whole each action may help show a pattern and practice of discrimination. It may common or even “easier” for some to deny or laugh off discrimination – dismissing an offensive sexual comment as just a joke, or harmless. Or to downplay a sexual gesture as flattery. However tracking inappropriate conduct helps you to be able to “present a case” of discrimination if the inappropriate conduct continues.

It’s also important to obtain and protect any documentation that you need in the event you are fired and can’t access workplace documents. This includes getting copies of the employer handbook and any personnel files, as well as emails which may support your matter. While it may be possible to recover these items once an investigation begins, its helpful to have these documents at the ready. A timeline with documentation will be invaluable to help prove your case.

Further, it is often advisable to talk to a lawyer before talking to your H.R. department. While many people believe their H.R. Department will act in their best interest, it’s important to remember that the H.R. is legally on the employer side.

In the event you pursue a claim, the H.R. department will be aligned with management, regardless of how empathetic individuals may be with your plight.

While discrimination continues to affect workers in Georgia and across the country, knowing the steps to take should you experience unlawful biases and actions at work will give you peace of mind, both in presenting your concerns to your employer, and in bolstering a complaint should legal steps be necessary. For more information, or to schedule a confidential consultation, please contact the dedicated Georgia employment discrimination lawyers at Buckley Beal, LLP for a consultation.
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