You have likely heard the terms “discrimination,” “retaliation,” and “litigation,” but may have questions about how they apply to your situation – don’t worry, you can always connect with an employment litigation lawyer Washington, D.C. area residents trust to learn more about your legal options. Employment discrimination and retaliation matters are particularly complex areas of law. Few workers know with absolute certainty that they’re being treated illegally; most need to receive professional guidance before they can determine whether they have grounds to file legal action against their employers.
Once we learn about your unique circumstances, we’ll be able to advise you of your legal options. During a risk-free, confidential consultation with our firm’s Washington, D.C. employment litigation lawyer, we’ll also be able to answer any questions you may have about discrimination, retaliation, and litigation as they apply to your case. As you prepare for your consultation, you may want to take a minute to read the following information and to jot down any questions that this introductory material inspires. That way, you can easily reference your questions and voice your concerns when we meet.
Discrimination, Retaliation, and Litigation – The Basics
Some workplace behaviors are unquestionably unfair, but they aren’t illegal. For example, if your boss promotes your co-worker because they get along better, even if you’re arguably better qualified, this isn’t illegal mistreatment. However, if your co-worker is promoted because your boss takes issue with your gender, age, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, religious beliefs, nationality, or another protected characteristic, this is illegal discrimination. Unfortunately, while workplace discrimination is commonplace, it isn’t always easy to identify. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to speak with the team at Eric Siegel Law, even if you’re unsure of how the mistreatment you’re suffering is legally classified. We can investigate and clarify your circumstances so that you can decide how you want to handle this mistreatment in question.
Note that it is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against workers for engaging in a so-called “protected activity.” Whether you’ve submitted a work safety claim, applied for workers’ compensation benefits, taken a leave of absence to have a baby, took protected time off work to vote or serve on a jury, or otherwise engaged in an activity protected under the law, your employer is not allowed to fire, demote, or otherwise mistreat you in response to your actions. Your employer is also not allowed to retaliate against you for speaking with an attorney about your options.
Should you suffer mistreatment as a result of discrimination or retaliation, you may benefit from pursuing litigation against your employer. Litigation is, at its most basic, filing a lawsuit against the party that caused you harm.
Hostile Work Environment Claims
Federal law prohibits employers from engaging in discriminatory and retaliatory conduct when this conduct targets an applicant or employee for reasons related to their status as a member of a protected class and for reasons related to exercise of a protected activity. Protected classifications include race, religious belief, age, disability, nationality, sex, and genetics. Protected activities include taking a legally protected leave of absence, taking protected time off to vote, serve on a jury, or serve in the military, submitting a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, and reporting workplace safety concerns to appropriate government agencies.
When discriminatory or retaliatory conduct becomes so distracting and/or distressing that it interferes with an individual’s ability to do their job, the resulting situation is referred to as a “hostile work environment.” It is unlawful for an employer to create a hostile work environment. It is also unlawful for an employer to learn that a hostile work environment has been created and to subsequently fail to take immediate corrective action to appropriately address the situation at hand. If you are unsure of whether the challenges you’re experiencing at work “rise to” the level of a hostile work environment, schedule a consultation with an experienced Washington, D.C. employment litigation lawyer at Eric Siegel Law so that we can clarify your legal situation and advise you of your options accordingly. If you are suffering as a result of a hostile work environment, you may be entitled to compensation and/or alternative forms of legal recourse.
When Is a Hostile Work Environment Actionable?
You may be understandably hesitant to meet with our firm’s Washington, D.C. employment litigation lawyer team if you are unsure of whether your situation is legally actionable. However, it is worth investing an hour or two of your time to attend a consultation so that you’re not left wondering “What if?” for years to come. Once we understand the nuances of your situation, we’ll be able to give you a personalized, objective analysis concerning whether your situation is legally actionable or not.
Generally speaking, one-time incidents aren’t usually actionable, unless they are extreme or severe in nature. For example, if you’ve been attacked by a coworker, you’ve been threatened with physical harm, or your boss has demanded that you provide them with sexual favors in exchange for the “privilege” of keeping your job, these scenarios are so extreme that they, in and of themselves, may serve as strong grounds upon which to file a hostile work environment claim. However, if the situation you’re dealing with has more to do with offensive innuendo, offensive imagery, derogatory comments, unwanted yet vague touching, etc. the situation must generally be pervasive or otherwise repetitious in order to serve as grounds for legal action. We’ll be able to clarify your unique circumstances once we meet with you in a consultation setting.
What Exactly Is Employment Discrimination? – The Basics
Hostile work environment cases are some of the most commonly filed forms of employment litigation in the U.S. Even more common is litigation filed after workers have experienced various forms of employment discrimination. The creation of a hostile work environment can be a form of employment discrimination. However, this broad category of unlawful conduct also encompasses a variety of other infractions on the part of employers and those whom they employ.
It is important to understand that employment discrimination law is both a federal and a state matter. Generally speaking, if a state law is broader than federal law is (in re: any particular subject matter), the state law becomes the governing standard. For example, federal law prohibits unlawful discrimination in the workplace against individuals who belong to protected categories – provided that the discriminatory conduct has resulted in some way from that individual’s inclusion within the protected class. Federal law broadly prohibits discrimination against workers on account of their race, national origin, gender, disability, age, religion, and genetics, among other immutable characteristics. However, many states have taken such protections farther. For example, some states have outlawed discrimination in the workplace aimed at an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender expression. Federal law “rules” unless a state’s law offers workers more generous protections – in which case – it “rules.”
One of the most common kinds of discrimination cases filed in the U.S. involves disability discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires most employers to provide disabled applicants and workers with reasonable accommodations, unless such accommodations would cause affected employers undue hardship. This area of law is highly-nuanced, so it is important not to make assumptions about whether you have grounds to file a reasonable accommodations complaint until you have spoken with an experienced attorney. No two reasonable accommodation cases are exactly alike. With that said, chances are good that unless your request for accommodations is absurdly expensive or otherwise unworkable, you may have grounds for a complaint. Reasonable accommodation requests can range from making workspaces more accessible to approving intermittent leave so that you can attend physical therapy. If you have questions about this area of law, don’t hesitate to connect with our experienced team.
Do I Have to Go to Court?
Very few legal disputes ultimately end up being decided by a jury. Most of the time, attorneys are able to successfully negotiate some sort of resolution to the issue at hand while avoiding court. Employment law is unique, as the government directly involves itself in investigating certain kinds of allegations, which is a process that also rarely involves court. Don’t shy away from exploring your legal options because you’re anxious about navigating a protracted legal battle. Chances are good that you can avoid court altogether, provided that your interests can be served properly without placing your case in front of a jury.
Legal Assistance Is Available
Our firm is passionate about protecting the rights of hard-working people. There is no reason why you should have to navigate workplace mistreatment alone. Please consider connecting with our firm today so that we can help you to protect your rights. Remember – every consultation with our firm’s experienced Washington, D.C. employment litigation lawyer is confidential; we look forward to speaking with you.