In general, it can be challenging to prove or to be certain that what you’re experiencing is specifically due to your sexual orientation. This is because it’s very easy for an employer or colleague to lie about their true intentions. However, there are some things you should look for– some more obvious than others. To help, this article will review the signs of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.

Your Employer Has Inquired About Your Sexual Orientation

It is only legal for an employer to inquire about your sexual orientation if it is a bona fide occupation qualification (BFOQ). In extremely rare cases, your sexual orientation may prevent you from doing a specific job function, which is what the BFOQ attempts to recognize. And in these rare cases, the argument usually occurs when members of the LGBTQ community apply for religious positions. Despite the BFOQ exemption, it is extremely rare for an employer to win this argument.

Other than that, there is no reason your employer should inquire about your sexuality; they have no legal right to. If an employer asks about your sexual orientation, this is almost 100 percent of the time sexual orientation discrimination.

Colleagues or Higher-Ups Make Inappropriate Comments or Jokes

Many members of the LGBTQ community have experienced bullying, inappropriate comments, and cruel jokes throughout their lives. So much so that when someone makes a “joke,” they can easily ignore it. Not only should this never happen to anyone, but it also certainly shouldn’t happen at your job, where people should be professional and respectful.

It’s also important to note that it doesn’t matter if the comment was a joke or a comment made in ignorance; if it made you uncomfortable, it should not go unaddressed. While you can personally and privately tell the person what they said made you uncomfortable, that may not be enough to stop them, and you should report it to HR. If HR doesn’t act, and you notice that other coworkers are getting away with similar things, this is likely a systemic problem in the company that you need to distance yourself from.

You’re Experiencing Overt Harassment

Overt harassment can take many forms, often appearing as physical, verbal, or sexual harassment; you’ll likely know it when you see or experience it. Other forms of over harassment can include not being able to keep a picture of your partner on your desk while others can, or even being unable to wear specific colors and have pride flags on your desk.

Knowing the signs of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace can arm you and others with the knowledge to protect LGBTQ members from harassment. If you feel you’ve been a victim of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace, contact an LGBTQ discrimination lawyer and get the representation you deserve today.

The legal definition of employer retaliation, or workplace retaliation, is the act of an employer punishing an employee for engaging in a protected act. Protected acts can include taking accrued PTO, sick or maternity leave, reporting harassment or assault, reporting other illegal activity, refusing to engage in unlawful activity, and more. In other words, it is a way for an employer, or any other higher-up, to seek revenge on an employee. Here are five common examples of employer retaliation to help you recognize if you are or have been a victim.

Purposefully Hindering Promotion

Employees that have worked at a company for many years and have done their job exceedingly well should be eligible for some form of raise or employee movement. While it may be due to a valid reason, it is not appropriate if the employee has engaged in a protected act that was not to the employer’s benefit and is later denied a promotion or salary increase. Not only does this harm the employee, but it can also send a message to other employees, deterring them from speaking up or engaging in protected acts to protect their careers.

Giving Unnecessarily Harsh Evaluations

Evaluations are a part of the workplace experience, and sometimes you can receive feedback that feels harsh. However, overly cruel or severe evaluations that are clearly undeserved are cause for alarm. This is especially so if your review doesn’t come with any compliments or praise.

Alterations in Work Conditions

Alterations in work conditions can take a few different forms. For example, your employer consistently gives you undesirable clients or jobs that are difficult to compete. You may also randomly receive a relocation or change in schedule. If agreeing to do so is not in the contract, or you tell your employer that you cannot work under the conditions provided and they refuse to change it or tell you why, it should be cause for concern.

Reduction in Salary or Benefits

A sudden or unnecessary reduction in pay or benefits is a huge red flag, especially if you’ve recently engaged in a protected act that your employer may not have agreed with. This can also include a reduction in opportunities for overtime, PTO, or commission payments. It’s worth it to ask and have a written explanation as to why your employer reduced your salary or benefits.

Excluding Employees

Excluding employees from training sessions or essential communications is a tactic some employers may use to set up an employee for failure. This may also appear as isolation, such as exclusion from meetings or company activities. It can also be as harsh and obvious as an employer refusing to talk to you or engage in correspondence.

Awareness of these common types of employer retaliation can help save you from pain and frustration. If you feel that you’ve been a victim of employee retaliation, it’s within your legal right to contact an employment dispute lawyer to get the representation and compensation you deserve.

Many people put their lives, health, and well-being into the hands of doctors. However, regardless of the rigorous education doctors and medical professionals go through, they are still people, and people aren’t always good and don’t always have your best interests in mind. And because of the power that being a doctor comes with, some people may seek to abuse that power, sometimes in the form of sexual misconduct. But what constitutes doctor-patient sexual assault, what does it look like, and what are your rights as a patient?

What Defines Sexual Assault?

The legal definition of sexual assault is when sexually charged contact or behavior is unwillingly expressed toward a victim. Sexual assault can constitute fondling, unwanted touches or advances, attempted rape, or penetration. It is important to note that although not all sexual assault is rape, all rape is sexual assault. Rape is considered any form of penetration, vaginal or anal, without the explicit consent of the victim.

Additionally, sexual assault is not always a forceful act, as coercion, psychological manipulation, and so forth can coerce a victim into nonconsensual sex or sexual acts. Most may understand sexual assault as an action done by people who are “obviously” criminals, but this is not the case. Oftentimes, sexual assault is carried out by people who are close to the victim, such as a family member, close friend, or anyone you trust—even a doctor.

What Constitutes Doctor-Patient Sexual Assault, and What Does It Look Like?

Doctor-patient sexual assault is any sexual assault done by a medical professional in a care setting. A care setting doesn’t necessarily have to be in a hospital, but it can occur in an office or even in in-home care. Unfortunately, because of this, many of the world’s most vulnerable people are the most affected by doctor-patient sexual assault.

For example, seniors are the most likely to receive care from medical professionals at home. Because people often trust nurses and doctors, many caregivers are not aware of the dangers their loved ones can face, giving an abuser a clear opening. However, most of the time, doctor-patient abuse can look very different from what you might be used to when you think of sexual assault, although the general guidelines are the same.

A doctor might order unnecessary procedures or exams in order to see a patient nude or be able to touch them. For this reason, many checkups given to children are now required to have a familiar adult in the room. Additionally, a female nurse has to be present during gynecological appointments where the practitioner is a male. While this is done partially to prevent misunderstandings and false accusations, it is more of a safeguard for the patient.

You may not always understand why a procedure is necessary, but if you feel like it isn’t, inquire as to why your doctor feels the need to go through with this exam or procedure. If you’re uncomfortable, it is important to express your mind about it and see if there are any alternatives. An unnecessary exam may be sexually charged if it seems overly invasive or drastic, especially if a doctor has you get fully or partially undressed necessarily. However, if your doctor ignores your concerns, you may want to get a second opinion from another health care professional.

However, sexual assault can occur during necessary procedures and exams as well. You know your body, and if an action makes you uncomfortable, you should make it known or promptly leave. A kind and experienced doctor will tell you what they’re going to touch beforehand so as to not surprise you and to give you a moment to refuse. Additionally, they will likely touch you firmly—not enough to hurt you and only enough to determine what the problem is. Conversely, unwanted sexual charged touches may be slow and lingering or overly forceful and painful.

But in extreme cases, you may not know that you are being sexually assaulted, such as when you are under anesthesia or being operated on. If you notice unrelated bruises or marks, feel sore in or around your genital areas not typical of the procedure, or notice excretions of seminal fluid, these are red flags and indicators that you have been sexually assaulted while under anesthesia.

What Are the Effects of Doctor-Patient Sexual Assault, and Who Is at Risk?

While doctor-patient sexual assault can happen to absolutely anyone, the most vulnerable groups are considered children, seniors, the disabled, and women. As mentioned previously, many seniors who are unable to care for themselves or have someone care for them are taken under the wing of medical professionals. This could be in their own homes or in nursing homes. Because they have no one else to advocate for them and are sometimes considered “senile,” their voices may go unheard, or they may not be believed. In the worst-case scenario, they may not even be able to say a thing.

Often, children or the disabled do not have the mental or physical faculties to defend themselves or understand what’s going on. A child does not have the physical strength to defend themselves from sexual assault or know what sexual acts are. That is why a parent or guardian must be present at nearly all times. The mentally disabled may also not be aware of what’s going on or know how to express themselves. On the other hand, the physically disabled may not be able to properly defend themselves, and typically, a parent, guardian, or trusted caretaker is to be present as well.

However, regardless of who is a victim of sexual assault, the effects can be enormous and life changing. Sexual assault in any shape or form can leave a person with lifelong trauma, physical pain, and even more medical bills. This trauma can stop people from working and being able to continue with their everyday lives—it can be a complete disruption. For some, it may even lead to self-harm or suicide. But when sexual assault is committed by a doctor, someone whom you are supposed to trust and engage with to be healthy, all of the above can happen and more.

Doctor-patient sexual assault can destroy someone’s ability to trust and make them fearful of doctors and medical professionals as a whole. They may reject seeking the care that they need, causing them to miss out on critical procedures and exams to keep them healthy. A doctor’s office can be a scary place on its own, but with the addition of sexual assault, it can become a place of nightmares.

Is Doctor-Patient Sexual Assault Considered Medical Malpractice?

Sometimes, doctor-patient sexual assault is considered malpractice. This is because, in order to become a doctor, one must abide by a particular code of ethics. Sexual assault can constitute a breach of duty if a victim is harmed during an exam, procedure, or surgery. Even if it is not physical harm, a person can still claim medical malpractice. Additionally, doctor-patient sexual assault can delay medical care, causing a person’s condition to worsen, which can also be considered malpractice.

Knowing what constitutes doctor-patient sexual assault gives victims and loved ones alike the knowledge and the power to defend themselves legally. If you fear you’ve been a victim of doctor-patient sexual assault, contact patient rights lawyer Tamara N. Holder to get the representation you deserve from someone who truly cares.

What Constitutes Doctor-Patient Sexual Assault?

A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a legal contract between multiple parties designed to protect sensitive information or materials from getting shared or disclosed to other unwanted parties. Many businesses and companies will have their employees sign an NDA so the company can freely share information within their network without worrying about leaked information. But employees may be at risk if they don't know what they're getting into. To help, here are five things you should know before signing an NDA.

What Is the Scope of the NDA?

As a rule, the NDA should be explicitly clear about its intentions and requirements. However, some companies find it easier to write vague NDAs, so be sure to ask to have the document modified before signing if unclear. The NDA should stipulate what kind of information you'll need to keep secret, such as trade secrets, purchase records, or other confidential categories of information. The contract should also tell you the steps to take to keep this information safe, whether shredded, locked in a filing cabinet, or with controlled access.

What Are the Consequences of Breaching the NDA?

One of the biggest red flags you should look for before signing is an overly harsh punishment for breaching the contract. The typical consequences of breaching an NDA are paying for consequential or punitive damages if a court deems the action intentional and malicious. However, suppose you see a liquidated damages provision in the contract. In that case, you may owe the company a specific payment amount without them having to prove that it was your fault. But a liquidated damage provision is only enforceable if the amount is reasonable compared to the damage.

How Long Does the NDA Last?

If an NDA’s effective date and disclosure period seem unreasonable compared to what you are protecting, you may be putting yourself at risk. However, some provisions are perpetually enforceable, meaning they last forever. For example, trade secrets may be perpetually enforceable to protect a company's assets.

Are There Exceptions to the NDA?

There may come a time when you may need to share confidential information, especially in a profession where the legal system is or can become involved. Typically, an NDA should specify that you can share information already known to a recipient, public domain information, or independent information. If these exclusions are not stipulated, you can ask the company to add them to the contract before signing.

Is the Language Used in the NDA Too Vague?

Ultimately, and as previously mentioned, the language in an NDA should be explicitly clear. If the provisions in an NDA are vague, unclear, or too general, do not sign unless you can negotiate the terms. While you may not win on every point, you're putting yourself at risk of liability if an NDA is unclear, and you may accidentally share confidential information.

Keeping these five things in mind before signing an NDA can protect you from unnecessary liability and litigation. And if you're compelled to share critical information but don't know whether you're protected, contact civil rights attorney Tamara N. Holder to get the legal representation you deserve.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was intended to protect specific classes from employment discrimination based on color, race, national origin, and sex. However, it was not until the recent Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, Supreme Court ruling in 2020 that this changed. It was determined that Title VII protects against workplace discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. We can’t know for sure just how many instances of workplace discrimination against LGBTQIA members occurred that went overlooked before the ruling. And even today, sexual and gender orientation discrimination still occurs as some employers continue to break the law and fly under the legal radar.

But, while we may never know the exact extent to which members of the LGBTQIA community are affected, it is important to review what we do understand. This is so we can further prevent history from repeating itself and become more sensitive to the employment struggles that LGBTQIA members face. That is why this article will review how employment discrimination impacts LGBTQ members and the legal rights of the members of this community.

What Is Employment Discrimination?

Employment discrimination and its legal definition must be reviewed to understand the workplace rights of LGBTQIA people further. Employment discrimination differs from workplace discrimination, although both are considered illegal under Title VII. Workplace discrimination occurs when the victim is already an employee, and while the terms can be used interchangeably, employment discrimination has an implication of power imbalance at play.

To clarify, under the definition of workplace discrimination, a coworker can be a part of the issue, as well as an employer. However, employment discrimination implies that an applicant or employee is mistreated or rejected based on their identity. All workplace discrimination is employment discrimination, but not all employment discrimination is workplace discrimination.

However, it is essential to note that if an employer has 15 or fewer employees from when a lawsuit occurs to the 20 weeks preceding the calendar year, they are not covered under Title VII. However, if an employer has 15 or more employees, including part-time or temporary, they must abide.

What Does Employment Discrimination Against LGBTQ Members Look Like?

LGBTQIA members can be particularly affected by this form of discrimination, as some community members can be “easily identifiable.” For example, employers may refuse to employ a trans person if they do not fit into the traditional binary category of gender or are not considered by the employer to be “cis passing.” An employer may also have false beliefs or ideas about what a member of the LGBTQIA community looks like and wrongly mistreat a heterosexual or cisgender person—which is also illegal.

When looking critically at a company or business, one may want to look first at the company’s size. Subsequently, suppose you notice a total or majority of workers are of a particular bracket, without members of varying gender, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity. In that case, this is likely not an accident. However, that is not always obvious; you may also hear hurtful epithets and/or verbal and physical harassment. Additionally, you may see employment qualifications that have little to nothing to do with the job. For example, if they disallow certain political leanings, clothing, flags, family dynamics, or other factors of outward appearance, this may be a form of LGBTQIA discrimination.

How Does Employment Discrimination Impact LGBTQ Members?

Employment discrimination against LGBTQIA members stretches back into the 1900s, and it can be argued that it appeared even earlier. Because of this, LGBTQIA community members have often been ousted and treated as outcasts, inherently diseased, or immoral. Because of this, community members have had a long history of a significant percentage of them being impoverished or homeless. These percentages wax and wane as time passes, with some of the worst of them occurring during the AIDS crisis of the 80s.

Still, an alarming number of gay and transgender young adults are homeless. This is not to say that employment discrimination is the sole cause. But the further pushing and distancing that employment discrimination perpetuates further deepen the societally ingrained stereotype of the “immoral” LGBTQIA community member. The more of an economic gap employment discrimination makes, the more the rights of LGBTQIA members are corroded.

This issue is, of course, like many other socioeconomic issues, cyclical. An LGBTQIA member is unemployed or fired, and they become more impoverished. The more impoverished a community becomes, the more they are disadvantaged and the fewer opportunities they have for education or advancement. And thus, the cycle continues. However, the issue becomes more complex when you look at LGBTQIA members who are disabled, people of color, or veterans.

How Does Intersectionality Play a Role?

Intersectionality is the overlapping of social categorizations. For example, a person can be nonbinary, and they can also be a person of color. Or a person can be transgender, and they can also be disabled. Any social categorization can be overlapped, making a person more vulnerable and susceptible to discrimination. Suppose an employer is likely to discriminate against you for being LGBTQIA. In that case, they are more likely to discriminate against you for being a person of color, disabled, or of a different religion.

As previously mentioned, workplace discrimination impacts LGBTQIA members by taking away opportunities, leaving them susceptible to poverty and homelessness. However, certain groups have already been put at a disadvantage due to their race or ability. For example, one in every five Black households is considered to be in a food desert. How does this compound with Black LGBTQIA members who face workplace discrimination? How many struggles can one person face?

These issues may seem unrelated, but combined, they put pressure on smaller, intersectional minority groups, creating an unlivable environment. Under our capitalist economy, taking away a fair shot at employment can likely be a death sentence. This is especially so when you consider the inherent societal and economic disadvantages of being a part of certain groups. Under the right circumstances, employment discrimination can create the perfect storm for generational poverty.

What Are the Legal Rights That Protect LGBTQ Community Members?

Because LGBTQIA people are now protected under Title VII, they have the right to file complaints with the EEOC just as any other protected class would. LGBTQIA community members have the right to be treated fairly during the application process and at their place of work. If you suspect that you are a victim of workplace discrimination, you should immediately begin to record all relevant evidence at your disposal and contact HR if you are already employed. This is so you can follow through with the proper proceedings before you begin to file a complaint with the EEOC. You have the right to compensation if you are verbally or physically harassed, isolated, rejected, or refused earned promotion based on your sexual orientation or gender identity.

Understanding the impacts of employment discrimination against LGBTQ members is critical in becoming a more inclusive and understanding society. To ensure that your legal proceedings go as smoothly as possible and that you have the best chances of them going in your favor, contact a sexual orientation discrimination lawyer. You deserve the best legal representation with someone interested and dedicated to meeting your specific legal needs.

How Employment Discrimination Impacts LGBTQ Members

If you’ve ever attended an OB/GYN appointment where the gynecologist was a male, you may have noticed that there’s always a woman in the room during an examination or procedure. This is for a number of reasons, the largest of which pertains to the clinician trying to avoid accusations of sexual assault while also making a female patient feel more comfortable.

However, gynecology isn’t the only medical practice where women tend to feel more comfortable with a woman in the room. Many women have found themselves avoiding appointments with male doctors or requesting female doctors or nurse practitioners in their stead. But why do so many women prefer to be treated by female doctors?

The Fear of Being Unheard

The medical industry is largely dominated by males, and in similar industries where men are the leading figures, women tend to feel unheard. So when talking to a medical professional about a health concern, not feeling listened to is the last thing a patient wants. A doctor who feels like they know better than the patient may not listen to all their concerns and symptoms and may even refuse to treat them.

Additionally, many people chalk up a lot of pain that women experience, physical and mental, to hormones and the menstrual cycle. However, another female doctor can better understand that a woman can differentiate fairly well between their typical cycle woes versus a differing medical issue.

The Fear of Being Misdiagnosed

Many symptoms of the same illness, such as a heart attack, can look very different for men than women. If a doctor isn’t aware of how a patient’s sex can affect different illnesses, a patient can become grossly misdiagnosed. Additionally, and as previously stated, doctors often write off the pain as a normal part of the female experience. Doctors can chalk up cancers, immune disorders, and mental illnesses to menstrual cycle issues, leaving other illnesses to worsen until it’s too late.

Concerns About Sexual Assault or Trauma

Fear concerning doctor sexual abuse is one of the most common reasons why women prefer to be treated by female doctors. This can be because a patient has experienced previous sexual abuse, has experienced sexual abuse by a medical professional, or has gone through a traumatic experience in one way or another. A woman might feel safer with a professional of the same gender who is more sensitive and aware of women’s experiences. Ultimately, it’s up to medical professionals to make their practice and their spaces a safer place for women of all backgrounds.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, racial discrimination in the workplace occurs when an applicant or employee is treated unfavorably because of their race or characteristics associated with that race and can occur even if the victim and the inflictor are of the same race. This discrimination can come in many forms and can be as subtle as a lack of deserved movement within the company or being given undesirable jobs, or as overt as racial epithets and harassment. If you’ve been a victim of racial discrimination, you deserve justice. Still, it can be intimidating even to consider filing a complaint if you’ve experienced discrimination from someone of a higher authority. This article will review how to prove racial discrimination against your boss or other higher-up members of the company you work for.

Know What You’re Trying To Prove

Knowledge is power, and the first step to winning a case is knowing in explicit detail your end goal and how to get there. If you’re trying to prove that your employer, supervisor, or any higher-up has discriminated against you, your best ally is knowing what the EEOC will be looking for. For the EEOC to conclude that you were discriminated against, you need proof of a few things.

First, the EEOC may inquire as to who you feel was treated more favorably than you, which means you need to prove that you were treated differently than someone else. You should know their name, race, company position, and other relevant information. Ideally, you’ll be able to tell the EEOC interviewer exactly how you were treated. While this may feel like a betrayal or “tattling,” this is a critical portion of building your case. Remember that the person you reference isn’t the person you’re pursuing litigation against.

Secondly, it would help you tremendously if there was someone in a similar position as you who was treated favorably and who is of a different race. Likely, the interviewer will inquire as to whether they worked for the same supervisor, did a similar job, as well as the amount of experience they’ve had.

Lastly, for the EEOC to prove that you were racially discriminated against, they need proof that there was no other legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason for the employer to treat you differently.

Knowing what EEOC investigators are looking for will help you pinpoint what evidence you need to garner to present to have the best chances at success. It is also critically important to note that people do the recording and filing of your case. This means that you need to be explicitly clear in your communication as a person can easily mis-record or misinterpret critical details of your case. It is best to write down the facts and have a compilation of evidence with you when you arrive for your interview so you can be completely clear and ensure there is no miscommunication.

Gather Evidence

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, you need to gather evidence. Ideally, you’ll do so before your employer knows you are looking into filing a complaint with the EEOC. This is because you want to mitigate any chance of someone deleting or tampering with evidence before you collect it. In addition, whatever you collect should be kept in physical copies and digital files away from your place of work. It is also important for you to know what evidence the EEOC will look for in their investigation. This evidence includes testimony, documents, and statistical evidence.

Testimony will be the first form of evidence that the investigators collect, meaning it will be recorded and looked upon at a later date. Because of this, it is in your best interest not to lie or exaggerate in any way, shape, or form. Any information considered hearsay or second-hand is not as good as first-hand information. Still, it can help corroborate a story and build a bigger picture of the incident. If there is someone who you believe is willing to be interviewed, knows of, or saw what happened, then you should provide their name and position as well as their contact information.

The investigators will also be looking for documentation. Documentation can fall under many categories, such as physical or digital correspondence, memos, notes, files, workplace reviews, and even recordings. This is where it becomes critical for you to have physical and digital copies that are stored securely. In some special cases, the EEOC will investigate statistical evidence, such as how specific policies affect certain groups. However, this is not evidence you can gather and is usually carried out by investigators.

Hire a Lawyer

At this point, you should be aware of your overall goal in pursuing litigation and have had a chance to gather as much evidence as possible and draft a written testimony so you can be fully prepared to consult with a racial injustice lawyer. While it is not required for you to have a lawyer, it is highly advised that you hire one as the EEOC will not give you legal advice, and they do not represent you. It is in your best interest to have a professional on your side as workplace law is highly complex. If you get to the lawsuit stage without a lawyer, it will be extremely difficult to find representation later.

Your lawyer can tell you how much water your case holds and if spending all that time and money will be fruitful. Too many employees who file a complaint without a lawyer end up receiving a “no reasonable cause letter,” which means that the EEOC found no proof of your claim and is no longer continuing with the investigation. While you can continue to take your case to court, a lawyer will likely be able to tell you long beforehand if there isn’t enough hard evidence.

Additionally, a lawyer will know how much your case is worth and how much compensation you can receive in concordance with the amount of effort going into the case. This is typically referred to as a cost-benefit analysis and can save you a lot of wasted time and money. Many employers, supervisors, and higher-ups don’t want to deal with a court case and will try to settle out of court. Do not do this without a lawyer advising you, as you may get very little compared to what you could get if you went through with the court case.

Remember that you must file a complaint within 180 days of the incident if you are not a federal employee and 45 days if you are a federal employee. In addition, an EEOC investigation may take up to 10 months. Employers know this and will use it to pressure you into settling or not pursuing litigation. However, now that you know how to prove that your boss or supervisor racially discriminated against you, you’re much less likely to be taken advantage of and better prepared to build a winning case.

How To Prove Racial Discrimination Against Your Boss

An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in cases that the EEOC typically deals with and investigates. These include wage discrimination, workplace sexual harassment, or workplace retaliation cases. However, just because the EEOC investigates these cases independently doesn’t mean you don’t need legal representation. If you have a case pending or are thinking of filing a complaint, here’s why you need an EEOC attorney to help with your case.

The EEOC Does Not Provide Legal Advice

When the EEOC investigates your claim, this is only a small part of the legal process. Employment discrimination laws are complex and challenging for an untrained person to understand. Proceeding with legal matters without having a professional with your best interests in mind is a quick way to ensure your case doesn’t get to the lawsuit stage.

They Can Save You From Wasted Time and Effort

Because the EEOC doesn’t represent you, they don’t know everything about your case. This can lead to misunderstandings and issues during the interview and investigation process. If there are misunderstandings and miscommunications about the facts of your case, or if the EEOC determines that no illegal activity occurred, you can receive a “no reasonable cause” letter. If you receive this letter, you can still file a lawsuit, but you only have 90 days to do so.

At this stage, finding a lawyer to represent you is extremely difficult, as many lawyers won’t take on a case where they only have 90 days to review and investigate your case and file the lawsuit. Even if you hire a lawyer with a specific niche, such as a wage discrimination lawyer, they’ll still be wary of taking on your case. This is compounded by the fact the initial EEOC investigation usually takes around 10 months to complete. If you want to avoid wasting potentially a year of your time, you need an EEOC attorney.

They Can Run a Cost-Benefit Analysis

As previously mentioned, an EEOC attorney can save you a lot of wasted time by telling you if the EEOC will find your case worth pursuing in the first place. However, they can also tell you if the time you’re putting into it will be worth what you get in return. For example, if you hope to receive financial compensation, but the effort and money needed to continue with litigation are too high, they may suggest you try and settle outside of court. Ultimately, an attorney will know just how much your case is worth and give you a general estimate of the compensation you can receive.

Knowing why you need an EEOC attorney for your case can help you avoid the same mistakes many other employees have made.

August 15, 2022: As reported by PBS/WTTW's Nick Blumberg, dozens of Amazon warehouse workers allege a racially hostile work environment: confederate flag outfits, death threats to Black workers, and other allegations are detailed.

Amazon Employees Say Company Retaliated After Charges of Racially Hostile Work Environment

 

Late last month, 26 current and former employees of a Joliet Amazon warehouse accused the company of allowing a racially hostile work environment. They’ve since been joined by a dozen more workers, who’ve filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that outline racist death threats against Black employees – and some of those employees also say they’ve faced retaliation from Amazon since speaking out.

On May 25 – just days after the grocery store mass shooting in Buffalo that’s believed to have targeted Black residents – employees at Amazon’s MDW2 distribution warehouse in Joliet say they found graffiti threatening the lives of Black workers.

“We were told that we could go home with no pay … or we could stay there and keep working,” said former Amazon employee Tori Davis. “We were put in a predicament where we still were in fear every day.”

Workers say Amazon didn’t send a message to employees until nearly 24 hours after the threat was found. And Tori Davis says she was fired after talking with coworkers and demanding action from management.

“We’re not going away until they take this seriously,” said attorney Tamara Holder, who represents the workers in their complaint to the EEOC. She’s since taken on clients at an adjacent Amazon facility in Joliet, MDW4. The graffiti isn’t the only instance of discrimination alleged in the charges.

“Men wearing Confederate flag outfits in the workplace with impunity. Complaints from workers about other workers using the N-word with impunity,” Holder said.

An Amazon spokesperson told WTTW News, “Amazon works hard to protect our employees from any form of discrimination and to provide an environment where employees feel safe. Hate or racism have no place in our society and are certainly not tolerated by Amazon.”

An image included in an EEOC complaint against Amazon shows racial slurs written in a bathroom of the Joliet facility. The racial slurs have been blurred out by WTTW News. (Complaint Provided)

An image included in an EEOC complaint against Amazon shows racial slurs written in a bathroom of the Joliet facility. The racial slurs have been blurred out by WTTW News. (Complaint Provided)

Holder also says Amazon has threatened and fired workers who have spoken out, saying they violated a confidentiality agreement they signed upon hiring.

“The contract is written for somebody who would have trade secrets,” Holder said. “This confidentiality agreement was not made for low-wage warehouse workers. But I believe it’s a tool to silence those workers.”

Nicole Porter, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, says confidentiality agreements are a widely used method for companies to protect their trade secrets from competitors.

“If (they) have special procedures that have turned out to be very efficient and effective, you’re not allowed to talk about any of that,” Porter said. “Lots of employers do have employees sign confidentiality agreements, that’s actually quite common.”

But Porter says they can’t be used to stop employees from speaking out about their workplace. As for the EEOC charges, among other things the plaintiffs have to prove the racism was pervasive, unwelcome, and that the company failed to act. But it could be a long legal road ahead.

“The EEOC has the opportunity to investigate – and something, I think, like this where it’s several plaintiffs complaining about it, the EEOC will take that more seriously than they might just one individual employee bringing a claim,” Porter said.

The EEOC might file a lawsuit, it might call for mediation, or it might leave it to the plaintiffs to sue. As for the threats workers say they’ve faced for speaking out: “The employer cannot retaliate against any of the employees that filed the charge simply because they filed a charge, (but) proving that causation piece is sometimes difficult,” Porter said.

And when it comes to the EEOC charges, Holder says: “We are going to continue to gather as much information as it takes to make sure Amazon listens to us and fixes this work environment.”

An Amazon spokesperson did not respond to follow-up questions about worker claims of retaliation or the company’s confidentiality agreement.

Contact Nick Blumberg: nblumberg@wttw.com | (773) 509-5434 | @ndblumberg

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