Workplace Discrimination in Austin, TX

Discrimination is an all-too-familiar scenario for many in the workplace. Likewise, it is also the most common type of workplace lawsuit that workers file. An experienced Austin, Texas workplace discrimination attorney can help. Find out how.

What Is Workplace Discrimination?

Discrimination in the workplace deals with unfair treatment. These laws can vary, depending on factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, physical disability, physical qualities, or age. Workplace discrimination can occur between employees or between employers and existing or prospective employees.

Austin, Texas Labor laws make some types of workplace discrimination illegal. If illegal discrimination occurs, workers may be able to file a workplace discrimination lawsuit. A worker does not need to currently have employment from a company to face qualifying acts of discrimination. For instance, say the company chose not to hire someone. If it’s because of a qualifying characteristic, the individual may be able to file a claim.

Here are some of the most common types of discrimination that occur in the Austin, TX work environment:

  • Choosing not to hire someone because of their disability
  • Choosing not to promote someone because of their race
  • Excluding someone from a project because management says they’re too old
  • Making misogynistic comments about women
  • Deliberately paying men more than women because the boss values their work more

Should You File a Complaint With the HR Department or the EEOC?

Most Austin, TX companies have a human resources department and discrimination in the workplace falls within their portfolio. For that reason, raising concerns with the appropriate HR representative may include filing a written report, a possible sit-down interview, and an investigation.

Sometimes a company does not have a human resources department and there are no policies in place. To resolve the issue, you might take your concerns directly to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They can assist you in investigating the claim and possibly filing a lawsuit.

Austin discrimination cases are under the jurisdiction of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. Fortunately, you can file your claim by phone or online. The EEOC has very strict timelines, and many claims must be filed within 180 days. However, if your employer violates state and federal laws, you may have 300 days to file.

What Laws Protect Against Discrimination in the Workplace?

There are federal workplace discrimination laws that help to protect employees. On a federal level, Austin employees have protections from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, many states have even stronger laws that offer additional protections.

Let’s use an example. California is the first state where ethnic hair and the right to wear it naturally became a right with protections. In other states, employers may discriminate against natural hair because it is part of racial discrimination. 

The discrimination provisions of the Texas Labor Code are very similar to federal anti-discrimination laws. They apply to employers with at least 15 employees and prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment practices. In addition, the City of Austin has its own Civil Rights Ordinance that provides somewhat broader protections. However, these laws still have a 15 employee threshold.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

This specifically prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, religion, sex, color, or national origin. It typically applies to organizations with 15 or more employees. It also applies to schools (both public and private) and labor organizations. The EEOC’s primary responsibility is enforcing this law.

The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act addresses employment discrimination and enforcement. As of 2015, the duties and authority of the Commission were transferred to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The TWC can investigate and enforce complaints made under both state and federal laws. In addition, Austin residents have the option to file their claim with the city’s Office of Civil Rights.

Other Notable Applicable Federal Discrimination Laws

Examples of State Workplace Discrimination Laws

  • Texas: Unlike state and federal laws, Austin Municipal Code specifically includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.
  • California: The CROWN Act – Bans employers from discriminating against ethnic hair.
  • New York: Human Rights Law – Prohibits discrimination.. Includes expansions to include ethnic hair, sexual orientation, and gender identity as characteristics with protections
  • Washington: Washington State Law Against Discrimination – Makes discrimination illegal, including discrimination against disabled people who rely on service animals

What Is the Workplace Discrimination Process Like?

Filing a claim for workplace discrimination in Austin, Texas can be a tricky process given the number of potential laws in play. This is especially the case when the characteristics with protections only qualify under state law. The EEOC enforces federal workplace discrimination laws. In some cases, individual state labor departments handle the claims that only qualify under state law.

Filing a Claim

When it comes to federal claims, workers have about 180 days to file, to remain within the statute of limitations. Time is of the essence with discrimination claims. It’s a good idea to hire a discrimination lawyer to help from the beginning.

Austin, TX claimants also need to provide some basic information with their claim. Depending on the agency, the employer’s name, the name(s) of involved parties, and a description of the incident. It will also include the contact information for everyone with involvement in the issue.

Once the investigation has begun, the agency may request more information. They generally give you ample time and opportunity to produce said information if this happens.

Investigating the Claim

The investigation may involve interviewing the Austin employee, employer, other employees at the same place of business. However, it may also include anyone else who may have relevant information. The agency determines that the claim is valid and discrimination did, in fact, take place. The next step is generally to work for settlement or mediation. For this reason, both parties may have an incentive to work out a compromise.

Still, it might be necessary to file a lawsuit with the appropriate court. This is especially true if the parties cannot reach a settlement on the employee’s behalf. If that’s the case, an attorney issues what is known as a “Right To Sue” letter. This letter gives the employee suffering from discrimination the right to sue on their own accord.

Once you have exhausted your administrative remedies with the EEOC, you are free to file a federal lawsuit. In addition, under Texas legislation, the same rules apply for state lawsuits. If the TWC dismisses your claim, you must typically initiate your court case within 60 days of the dismissal.

Work With an Experienced Workplace Discrimination Lawyer In Austin, Texas

Consider hiring a Austin lawyer who specializes in discrimination as soon as the incident takes place. Experts often recommend that you resolve the issue internally through the proper HR channels. On the other hand, many employers mishandle these cases.

If you are considering a lawsuit an attorney becomes even more necessary. Austin, TX discrimination attorneys can help you with the paperwork, prepare you for depositions, and find corroborating witnesses to support your claim.

If the court rules in your favor, you might become entitled to several different compensatory benefits:

  • Back pay
  • Promotion
  • Reinstatement
  • Front pay
  • Reasonable accommodations
  • Payment of attorneys’ fees, court costs, and expert witness fees

Are you ready to find out if you are eligible for these benefits in Austin? Start with a case review.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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