WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RACE, COLOR AND/OR NATIONAL ORIGIN
This guide is meant to help you gather up evidence if you believe you are being discriminated against on the basis of your race, color and/or national origin and are at risk of being terminated by your current employer.
Are You Being Discriminated Against Because of Your Race, Color and National Origin ?Generally, New York is an "employment at-will" state which means that your employer can terminate you for a good or bad reason, or no reason at all. Similarly, you can resign "at-will" for any reason or no reason at all.
However, a limit to the employment "at-will" rule is that employers are prohibited from engaging in unlawful discrimination under federal and state law and, if you live in NYC or other counties in NY with local county rules which prohibit employment discrimination. Depending of the number of employees your employer has, (e.g., under the NYS Human Rights Law, your employer must have at least 4 or more employees), your employer is prohibited from engaging in race, color and national origin discrimination in the terms and conditions of your employment.
Oftentimes, employees believe that they are being subjected to employment discrimination, but the discrimination, although unfair, might be lawful because you are not in a "protected" category under the anti-discrimination statutes.
However, if you believe that your employer is favoring and treating your co-workers (who are not of your race, color, and/or national origin) in a better way with respect to assignments, promotions, meting out discipline, and/or subjecting you (and possibly others of your race, color, and/or national origin) to a hostile work environment or harassment, then you may have a viable claim or claims for unlawful race, color and/or national origin discrimination and/or harassment. In that case, before being terminated, to corroborate your claims of unlawful discrimination or harassment, you should document what is happening at work on a daily basis.
What Steps Should Be Taken If You Feel You're Being Subjected to Unlawful DiscriminationIn order to determine whether you have viable claims of discrimination or harassment on the basis of your race, color, and/or national origin and have not yet been terminated, you should take the following steps:
1. Consult an attorney who does employment discrimination before your situation at work becomes worse and you're at greater risk of being terminated;
2. Document the specific ways (e.g.s., handing out assignments, promotion opportunities, disparate pay, disparate pay raises, disparate discipline, etc) your employer are favoring your co-workers (of a different race, color and/or national origin than yours) on a daily basis in a log/ or diary type notebook. You should not tell anyone at work (or anyone else who could relay this information to your employer) that you are doing this, and you should maintain such diary or log in a hidden place while at work, and bring it home after your workday ends;
3. Take written notes if any of your managers or co-workers have used or are making any racial epithets, and/or any remarks (e.g. such as those reflecting stereotypes) concerning your or other co-workers' race, color and/or national origin;
4. Depending on what your attorney advises you to do so, you may want to record conversations you are having with those you feel are discriminating against you in a very discrete fashion (e.g., in New York, which is a "one-person consent" state, you can record such conversations just as long as you're a participant in the conversation);
5. Review your employer's handbook or other written employee policies to see if your employer has a specific procedure for complaining about unlawful discrimination or harassment, but do not make a complaint unless your attorney recommends you to do so since you could be then subjected to unlawful retaliation; and
6. Make a list of witnesses who can testify or give your attorney information which supports your case of discrimination.
Again, if you think you're a victim of workplace discrimination on the basis on your race, color and/or national origin, (or based on any other "protected" basis, such as age, gender, disability sexual orientation, religion, etc), it's best to speak with an employment discrimination attorney as soon as possible to see if the discrimination or harassment can be rectified before you are terminated from your employment.
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