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Work: ADA Protections 101: Discrimination, Harrassment

What Should I Do If I Think I'm Being Discriminated Against or Harassed?

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Before you raise the issue with your employer, try to look at the situation as an independent third person would.

Speak with someone you trust who is knowledgeable about your job and the company. If you have a mentor or advisor in the company, speak with him or her. Describe your reasons for believing you're being discriminated about, and see what an objective third person thinks.

Look at the items listed in How Do I Prove Discrimination or Harassment. As you review the list, and think about what you would do in response to each item, do they seem to add up to a provable case of discrimination? Is it just your word against some one else's, or is there more evidence?

If you objectively believe you are the subject of discrimination, rather than waste your time, proceed informally. Even if you file a complaint with a governing body or go to court, there will be an attempt at an informal resolution.

Start with your supervisor. Perhaps the matter can be cleared up in a conversation.

If you don't feel comfortable having the discussion yourself, ask someone to do it on your behalf. If you hire an attorney to have the discussion, look for an attorney who has experience in employment law.

If you are a union member, ask your union to assist you.

If you don't get satisfaction:

  • Follow your employer's procedures for resolving employment issues informally.
  • If there is no formal procedure at your workplace, go to the highest placed person in the Human Resource office you can access. If there is no Human Resource office, speak with the head of the company.

If discussions don't work out, your next step is to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or appropriate state agency. Watch out for filing deadlines -- if you miss a deadline your case can be dismissed.

To ask questions, call your local National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research center. You can locate your regional center at: offsite link. Once you have your answer, it can't hurt to call another regional office and ask the same question. Hopefully you'll get the same answer.

To find an attorney experienced in job discrimination cases contact:

  • National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) 44 Montgomery St., Suite 2080, San Francisco, CA 94104 Tel: 415.296.7629 offsite link;
  • Your local bar association (check offsite link)
  • Local legal aid or legal services group (look in phone book)
  • The Cancer Legal Resource Center -- Tel. 866.843. 2572 Mon -- Thur, 9 -- 5 Pacific time

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