When you experience discrimination at work, you know it, but trying to get your employer to own up to their actions can be an uphill battle. Just because discrimination is a frequent occurrence in the workplace, this does not mean that it is acceptable. Employees who are dismissed from their jobs, mistreated at work, or unfairly denied employment because of protected characteristics such as race or gender have the right to sue their current, former, or would-be employers for employment discrimination. Standing up for your rights can be a lonely and stressful road, but a Minneapolis employment discrimination lawyer can help you navigate the process. Contact the Minneapolis employment lawyers at HKM Attorneys LLP to find out more.
Discrimination Based on Race, Color, or Ethnic Background
It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on race, color, or ethnic background, but some employers do this frequently while claiming not to. This type of discrimination can take many forms, including but not limited to a hostile work environment where racist comments and humor based on racial stereotypes are encouraged or companies that officially or unofficially only hire people that look a certain way, such as restaurants that only hire blond waitresses. Some employees have filed lawsuits against their employers because of company policies about hairstyles that were much more restrictive for Black employees than for other employees.
Discrimination Based on Religion
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution grants all persons in the United States the freedom to practice any religion or none at all. Certain public sector jobs, such as public schools, are required to be non-sectarian, so they can prohibit proselytizing in the workplace, but they cannot refuse to hire job applicants simply because of those applicants’ religious beliefs. If you have ever noticed that Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sundays or seen the Scripture references on the bags from Forever 21, though, you know that religion and work do not have to stay completely separate. It may be a case of employment discrimination if an employer refused to hire you because of the religion or denomination to which you belong or if your employer refused to let you miss work to observe a religious holiday.
Discrimination Against Employees Born Outside the United States
The only jobs in the United States that are reserved for U.S. citizens are those related to the military and some government jobs, and President of the United States is the only job where being born in the U.S. is a requirement. You can apply for almost any job if you have a visa that enables you to work in the United States. Employers should not discriminate against naturalized U.S. citizens or against non-citizens whose immigration status makes it legal for them to work in the U.S.
You have probably heard about age discrimination before, but you might not think that you are too young to run up against it. Some cases involve employers refusing to hire applicants in their 60s, who are technically old enough to retire, but age discrimination can start much earlier than that in your career, too. The youngest age at which you can claim that your mistreatment at work or an employer’s refusal to hire you was due to age discrimination is the tender age of 40. That means that every U.S. president in history was old enough to sue for age discrimination at the time of their inauguration.
Discrimination Based on Sex, Gender Presentation, or Sexual Orientation
Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees on the basis of sex or gender, but it still happens; career fields that remained male-dominated after most sectors embraced the mixed gender workplace may have a workplace culture that amounts to a hostile and unwelcoming environment for the few women who work there. Likewise, employers may not discriminate against workers because of the employee’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender presentation. For example, the United States Supreme Court once ruled in favor of a woman who got negative performance reviews from her work supervisors (despite being popular with clients) because the supervisors considered her style of dress and speech mannerisms unladylike. A transgender woman also took her case to the Supreme Court after her employer fired her when she began using a feminine first name and dressing as a woman at work; her doctors had required her to do this for a year before becoming eligible for sex reassignment surgery. In this case, the plaintiff died shortly before the Supreme Court ruled in her favor.
Discrimination Based on Marital or Parental Status
Mothers face an uphill battle in the workforce, and not only when their children are infants. The Family and Medical Leave Act provides only the bare minimum of job security for mothers in the first weeks after the birth or adoption of a child. Prospective employers are not allowed to ask job applicants whether they have children, but sometimes employers make assumptions and penalize the applicants based on these assumptions. Some employers behave as though they would prefer not to hire women who might have children in the future. If you are a woman who is not old enough for age discrimination, you may be a victim of bias against mothers and prospective mothers, especially if you are married.
Protected Categories Specific to Minnesota Law
In addition to the characteristics protected by federal law, Minnesota law also prohibits employers from discriminating against current and former recipients of public assistance benefits. It also forbids employers to discriminate against employees who have participated in human rights organizations.
The Many Manifestations of Employment Discrimination
Your employer does not have to fire you in order for you to have grounds for an employment discrimination lawsuit. In many cases, the employer just makes your job unpleasant, perhaps in the hopes that you will quit. The employer may give you unjustifiably negative performance reviews, may deny you promotions for which you qualify, or may assign you an undesirable work schedule. If you think you are being discriminated against, it is worthwhile to talk to an employment discrimination lawyer.
Contact a Minneapolis Employment Discrimination Lawyer
It is not just your imagination that your employer is treating you unfairly, and an employment lawyer can help. Contact the Minneapolis employment discrimination lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP to set up a consultation.