The year 2020 saw high profile cases of employees filing legal complaints against their employers. Amazon was accused of discriminating against a transgender man who happens to be pregnant. The man was allegedly refused promotion. Bloomberg was slapped with a legal complaint alleging the company has biased pay and promotion policies. They put women of color at a disadvantage. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, run by power couple Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, also faced complaints about its alleged discrimination of black employees and applicants.
If you’re an employer, these cases should give you pause. Yes, you have to be more careful with the policies you put in place. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a similar situation, and it would be a PR catastrophe.
Meanwhile, if you’re an employee, these stories should remind you that you have rights protected by the law. And if any of your bosses trample on those rights, you have the power to file a legal case against them.
1. Workplace injury
Workplace hazards are a real thing. And some workplaces have more hazards than others. For example, if you work for a construction site, safety concerns range from falling debris to falling from a high altitude. Should you be the unfortunate victim of these accidents, you must know your rights. For starters, you must consult with a worker’s compensation lawyer.
A compensation lawyer will guide you through the process of getting the financial restitution you deserve. Your employer should cover all of your medical expenses. They should also pay you for loss of income in the case of prolonged work disruption. Any incurred permanent disability ought to be compensated as well.
2. Workplace harassment
Workplaces should be safe spaces for everyone. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If you have been repeatedly harassed in your workplace, either by a superior or colleague, and your employer fails to do something about it internally, you can file a formal complaint against your harassers and your employer.
Keep in mind that harassment manifests in different ways. It can be as obvious as chronic sexual advances. It can also be as seemingly innocuous as remarks made in jest but are strongly-worded enough to cause your discomfort.
Do not let any of those things go. Tell your human resource department about any form of harassment you are experiencing. If they have their wits about them, they’ll act on your complaint fast and in your favor.
3. Workplace discrimination
The United States maintains its dedication to workplace diversity via the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. Under this law, no employee should be discriminated against based on any of these characteristics:
- Gender Reassignment
- Sexual orientation
- Religion or belief
- Marriage and partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
If you are refused a promotion because you’re a PWD in a wheelchair, that’s workplace discrimination. Or, if you’re a Muslim and your company decides to ban hijab in the workplace, that’s discrimination too.
There are two kinds of workplace discrimination. Direct, which are informed by specific decisions by the employers or managers, such as favoring a non-disabled person to promote over a PWD that’s just as deserving. And indirect, which manifests via policies disadvantageous to certain staff members, such as banning religious attire.
4. Unlawful termination
Your employer cannot just fire you without any valid reason. And even if there’s a valid reason from their perspective, you can always challenge the decision by filing a case of unlawful termination.
Here your contract is the go-to resource. If your contract clearly outlines your employer’s possible grounds for termination, and none of those apply to your situation, you have a strong case.
There are many reasons for which your employer might decide to end your work contract abruptly. You might have rubbed them the wrong way. You might have come across a sensitive company secret by accident. None of these are valid reasons for your termination, though.
So do not let the whole thing pass. Fight for your right and speak truth to power.
Ideally, all organizations and businesses impose policies where employees are afforded the utmost workplace protection regardless of background. Any breach of these policies must be dealt with accordingly and with urgency.
If you have legitimate concerns against your current employer, do not hesitate to discuss the situation with them. Should they refuse to acknowledge your grievances, you might want to consider consulting with a lawyer. Remember that each one of us should defend our rights whenever we can. Failure to do so is as good as tolerating those in power to continue their negligence or gross oversight.