Alan Lescht and Associates successfully represents private sector employees in cases involving discrimination, hostile work environment, and harassment in Washington, DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia.
Employment discrimination can take many forms. Discrimination may occur in the form of an adverse employment action, such as termination, suspension, demotion, or non-selection for a job. Employers discriminate through less formal acts, such as taking away telework privileges, giving negative performance ratings, denying requests for training, or reassigning job duties. Discrimination may also occur in the form of hostile work environment, which is harassment that does not result in an adverse action.
Federal laws prohibit covered employers from discriminating against employees based on protected traits. Here are some examples:
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that prohibits covered employers from discriminating because of age against people who are 40 years of age or older. This means that, in most cases, an employer cannot deny a promotion, eliminate a position, or force an employee to retire because of age.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) is a federal law that prohibits covered employers from discriminating because of color. Color discrimination is based on skin color complexion. For example, an employer could discriminate based on color by selecting a job applicant who has a lighter complexion, even though the applicant is the same race as another job applicant.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits covered employers from discriminating because of disability. Covered employers must also provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities. Examples of accommodations include telework, an alternative work schedule, leave to attend medical appointments, an office close to a restroom, and modified job duties.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) is a federal law that prohibits covered employers from discriminating because of genetic information. Genetic information may include genetic testing results and family history. For example, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee because the employee’s mother had a genetic illness.
Title VII prohibits covered employers from discriminating because of national origin. National origin discrimination occurs when an employee is treated unfavorably because he/she is from a particular part of the world or a specific country. Evidence of national origin discrimination may include comments and jokes about a person’s apparel, mannerisms, accent, or cultural traditions.
Title VII prohibits covered employers from discriminating because of race or characteristics associated with a certain race (skin color, facial features, hair texture, etc.). Evidence of race discrimination may include use of racial slurs, displaying racially-offensive symbols, or joking about racial stereotypes.
Title VII prohibits covered employers from discriminating because of religious beliefs, or lack of religious beliefs. Covered employers are also required to provide reasonable accommodations based on religion. Accommodations may include flexible scheduling or modified job duties.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits covered employers from discriminating based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Generally, the law requires employers to treat women who are pregnant or who have a medical issue related to pregnancy or childbirth, like an employee who has a disability. For example, covered employers must provide reasonable accommodations. Women should not be given less important duties and assignments, rejected for leadership roles, or passed over for career advancement opportunities because of pregnancy or childbirth.
Title VII prohibits covered employers from discriminating because of sex. Evidence of sex discrimination may include comments about an employee’s apparel, mannerisms, marital status, and parental duties. Employees who have been subjected to sexual harassment, sexual orientation discrimination, gender identity discrimination, and pregnancy discrimination may also have claims for sex discrimination.
Federal law does not specifically prohibit private sector employers from discriminating because of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) currently considers sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity discrimination to be forms of sex discrimination. Additionally, some states and localities, including Washington, DC, have their own laws that explicitly prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.
Title VII prohibits covered employers from subjecting employees to sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. It can range from sexually explicit language to requests for sexual favors. Both men and women may be victims of sexual harassment.
The ADA, ADEA, GINA, and Title VII also make it illegal for covered employers to retaliate against employees who complain about discrimination or who participate in a discrimination case, whether it was the employee’s own case or someone else’s.
You have the right to work without fear of discrimination or retaliation. If you work for a covered employer, you may challenge discrimination and retaliation by filing a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Discrimination cases have short deadlines. You may need to file with the EEOC within as few as 180 days. Your deadline may be longer, depending on where you live.
Your EEOC charge should clearly explain why you think you were discriminated against and who discriminated against you. The EEOC has 180 days to investigate your complaint. At the end of that 180-day period, the EEOC should send you a letter that explains your rights. In general, you must file a federal lawsuit within 90 days if you want to continue with your case.
However, you may have additional options, depending on where you work. For example, if you work in DC, you may file a complaint with the EEOC and/or the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR). OHR is a DC government Agency that also handles discrimination cases. Employees who work in DC may also file a lawsuit in DC Superior Court under the DC Human Rights Act.
Employees who work in Maryland have similar rights and may file an administrative complaint with the EEOC, the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, or both. You may also have the option to file a lawsuit in state law under state or county anti-discrimination laws.
Unfortunately, employees who work in Virginia generally only have the option to file an EEOC charge and then to file a lawsuit in federal court.
If your employer discriminated against you, we can help. Our attorneys will work with you to evaluate your case, discuss your options, and develop a strategy to assert your rights. Alan Lescht and Associates represents private sector employees in the following discrimination matters:
Send us an email or call us at (202) 463-6036 to speak with an experienced employment attorney. Alan Lescht and Associates offers strategic and results-driven legal services to private sector employees in Washington, DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia.