Workplace Discrimination in Salem, OR
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 Salem, Oregon 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.
Salem, Oregon 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 Salem, OR 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 Salem, OR 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.
Unfortunately, the EEOC does not have any offices in Oregon. However, Salem employees can file complaints with the Seattle Field Office by phone or online. The EEOC will typically attempt to work with your employer to reach a settlement. However, some cases do still require litigation.
What Laws Protect Against Discrimination in the Workplace?
There are federal workplace discrimination laws that help to protect employees. On a federal level, Salem 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.
Under Oregon laws, it is illegal for Salem employers to discriminate in hiring, wages, and employment conditions. Oregon’s protected classes include race, age, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, and disability. In addition, Salem City Ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity, source of income, and domestic partnership status.
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 Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) investigates claims and enforces the state’s employment discrimination laws. Unlike federal laws, Oregon’s statutes and Salem city ordinances apply to employers of any size. Salem employees can also choose to file their complaint with the Salem Human Rights Commission. The Commission will forward your case to BOLI if necessary.
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
- Oregon: Employment Discrimination laws prohibit discrimination against stalking and domestic violence victims. In addition, employers cannot discriminate against employees who refuse to submit to polygraphs, breathalyzers, genetic testing, or brain-wave tests.
- 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 Salem, Oregon 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.
Salem, OR 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 Salem 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.
If the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) dismisses your case before the hearing, there is no appeal process. However, if an administrative hearing takes place, you can appeal the decision in the Oregon Court of Appeals. In addition, exhaustion of administrative remedies is not required to file a lawsuit in Marion County Court. If you have filed your claim with BOLI, you have 90 days to file in court after receiving your “Right to Sue” letter. However, if you did not begin an administrative process, the statute of limitations is typically 1 year.
Work With an Experienced Workplace Discrimination Lawyer In Salem, Oregon
Consider hiring a Salem 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. Salem, OR 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 Salem? 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!