Workplace Discrimination in Grand Rapids, MI
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 Grand Rapids, Michigan 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.
Grand Rapids, Michigan 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 Grand Rapids, MI 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 Grand Rapids, MI 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.
Once you file a discrimination claim in Grand Rapids, the EEOC will send a copy of your complaint to your employer within 10 days of filing. If the EEOC decides to investigate your claim, this process can be time consuming depending upon the amount of evidence and the number of witnesses. However your claim could also be turned over to mediation, or denied outright. The EEOC must deny claims that are filed beyond the statute of limitations.
What Laws Protect Against Discrimination in the Workplace?
There are federal workplace discrimination laws that help to protect employees. On a federal level, Grand Rapids 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.
All employees in Grand Rapids have the right to an employment environment free from prejudice and discrimination, according to Workplace Fairness Michigan. Furthermore, no resident of Grand Rapids can be fired, demoted, or have their wages altered on the basis of age, disability, race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation. In addition, military or union status cannot be used as criteria for termination.
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 Michigan Department of Civil Rights investigates all claims of discrimination and is tasked with securing equal protection under the law for all Grand Rapids residents. The MDCR investigates claims of discrimination in employment, housing, education, and law enforcement. In addition to investagating claims of discrimination based on protected class, the MDCR also investigates discriminatory practices due to an individuals arrest record.
Other Notable Applicable Federal Discrimination Laws
- Equal Pay Act (EPA) – Deals with equal pay act for men and women
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) – Protects workers aged 40 and over
- Americans with Disabilities Act – Protects employees with physical disabilities
Examples of State Workplace Discrimination Laws
- Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act– Prohibits discriminatory practices on the basis of one’s race, religion. color, national origin, sex, height, weight, and family or marital status.
What Is the Workplace Discrimination Process Like?
Filing a claim for workplace discrimination in Grand Rapids, Michigan 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.
Grand Rapids, MI 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 Grand Rapids 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.
Grand Rapids residents have 30 days to appeal to the EEOC if your claim is initially denied. You can complete this process online, as well as in person. However, you may want an experienced attorney in Grand Rapids to best help guide you through this process.
Work With an Experienced Workplace Discrimination Lawyer In Grand Rapids, Michigan
Consider hiring a Grand Rapids 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. Grand Rapids, MI 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
- 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 Grand Rapids? 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!