DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE
LABOR & EMPLOYMENT
Houston Workplace Discrimination Lawyer
When someone is being discriminated against, it means they are being treated differently, unfavorably, and unfairly. Often, discrimination occurs because of someone’s unwarranted prejudice toward a certain group of people or a characteristic of an individual. It can occur anywhere at any time and by any one, and unfortunately, it does. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are laws in place that can protect people from discrimination in certains areas. Employment is one of these areas.
The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) of the United States provides several laws that make discrimination in the workplace illegal. These laws protect employees from unfair treatment, harassment, retaliation, and denial of reasonable workplace accommodations. It also protects employees from being subject to improper questions or disclosure of their genetic or medical information.
Texas EEOC Laws
Each state has its own laws in place to protect an employee’s workplace rights. Texas EEOC laws make it clear that discrimination and retaliation in the workplace is illegal. To discriminate in any aspect of hiring, firing, fringe benefits, promotion, pay, or more is a violation of equal employment laws. There are also laws that protect employees who enact their entitled rights from any form of retaliation from employers. An unlawful employment practice has occurred if an employer, labor union, or employment agency retaliates against an employee for any of the following reasons:
- An employee opposes a discriminatory practice.
- The employee makes or files a charge.
- An employee files a formal complaint.
- An employee testifies, assists, or participates in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing against the employer.
An employee who has been discriminated or retaliated against in any way may file a claim with either the federal (EEOC) or state (Texas Workforce Commission – Civil Rights Division) administrative agencies.
Workplace Discrimination Examples
Under subchapter B of the Texas Labor Code, if an employer discriminates against their employee on the basis of “race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin, or age,” they are engaging in discrimination and are in violation of the law. Below, we’ll go into more depth regarding these areas.
Unfortunately, even in the 21st century, gender discrimination in the workplace is still a prevalent issue. Despite the terms “sex” and “gender” having different meanings, discrimination laws use them interchangeably. Discrimination based on sex or gender can come in many forms. Some examples of gender-discriminatory treatment include:
- Not being hired or given a lower-paying position due to sex.
- Being held to higher standards or evaluated more harshly than your counterparts.
- Gender stereotyping (i.e., a woman with short hair being told she needs to look more presentable or feminine).
- Being paid less than someone of equal experience due to sex.
- Being disciplined for something that someone of the opposite sex does but is never held accountable for.
- Receiving offensive, insulting, or derogatory terms based on your sex.
- Sexual harassment.
- Preganancy discrimination.
Race and color discrimination are also words that have different meanings but are used interchangeably in regards to employment discrimination. Being discriminated against for race refers to unfavorable treatment due to the personal characteristics associated with someone’s racial identity. This includes hair texture or style, facial features, or skin color. Color discrimination refers to the discrimination against someone due to their skin color complexion.
Examples of discrimination include derogatory or offensive remarks, racial slurs, or the display of racially-offensive symbols. Race/color discrimination can also involve unfair treatment towards someone who is married or related to a person of a certain race or color.
Age discrimination in the workplace involves treating either an applicant or an employee unfairly based on their age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination against people who are 40 years or older. It doesn’t, however, protect workers below the age of 40. Therefore, it is not illegal for an employer to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both workers are over the age of 40.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents employers from discriminating against either applicants or current employees with a disability. Disability discrimination can look like several different things.
While the ADA does not provide a comprehensive list for the disabilities that meet these requirements, it does provide a definition for what a disability is. A disability is a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.” The Act goes further to define a physical or mental impairment as any “physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems.”
It is illegal for an employee to be discriminated against based on their religion or religious practices. The law protects employees who belong to traditional religions, such as Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism, as well as those who have sincerely held religious, ethical, or moral beliefs.
Further, an employer must reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices unless doing so would pose undue hardship to the operation. This includes things like schedule changes for religious holidays or observances and adherence to dress or grooming practices that an employee has for religious reasons
It is in violation of the law for an employer to segregate employees based on their religious appearance, including garb and grooming practices. For example, assigning an employee to a non-customer contact position because of feared customer preference is considered religious workplace discrimination.
In addition, an employee cannot be required to participate (or forbidden to participate) in a religious activity as a condition of their employment.
Houston Employment Discrimination Lawyer
If you believe you have been discriminated against in your place of employment, you may have a claim for workplace discrimination and be entitled to compensation. At Reich & Binstock, we have over 30 years of legal experience and a number of successful cases under our belt. We know what it takes to protect our clients’ rights and fight for them in a court of law. To learn more about your rights and see how our Houston attorneys can help you, contact our office today. Call 713-352-7883 or 877-643-3099 toll free or use our contact form below to schedule a consultation now.