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Texas Employment Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Retaliation Attorneys

A variety of State and Federal Laws protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. Many of these laws require an employee to file a claim within 180 days after the violation. Therefore, if you are the victim of Employment Discrimination, you should hire an attorney immediately. Instances of illegal discrimination often occur during the process of hiring, discipline, promotion, or termination. Employers who unlawfully discriminate against employees or job applicants may be liable for lost wages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. The Leichter Law Firm PC represents clients in the following areas:

Read More: 3 Things to Know About Workplace Sexual Harassment

Discrimination based on Race, Color, Religion, Sex, or National Origin:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  Discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because he/she is of a certain race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are the same race or color.

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Harassment can include, for example, slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks, or the display of offensive symbols. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Disability Discrimination:

Disability discrimination occurs when an employer or other entity covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, or the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because she has a disability.

Disability discrimination also occurs when a covered employer or other entity treats an applicant or employee less favorably because she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is controlled or in remission) or because she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if she does not have such an impairment).

The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer (“undue hardship”).

A person can show that he or she has a disability in one of three ways:

A person may be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning).

A person may be disabled if he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission).

A person may be disabled if he is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment).

Age Discrimination:

Age discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) less favorably because of his or her age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older.

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

It is unlawful to harass a person because of his or her age. Harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person’s age. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren’t very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Pregnancy Discrimination:

Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.

If a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat her in the same way it treats any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, the employer may have to provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave to pregnant employees if it does so for other temporarily disabled employees.

It is unlawful to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Pregnant employees may have additional rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Sexual Harassment:

It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Retaliation:

An employer may not fire, demote, harass or otherwise “retaliate” against an individual for making a claim for unpaid overtime wages or for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing discrimination. The same laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability, as well as wage differences between men and women performing substantially equal work, also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose unlawful discrimination or participate in an employment discrimination proceeding.

Additionally, other laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protect individuals from coercion, intimidation, threat, harassment, or interference in the exercise of their own rights or their encouragement of someone else’s exercise of rights granted by those laws.

Also, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for filing a workers compensation claim, or for refusing to perform an illegal act, or for reporting illegal activity as a whistleblower. Many other laws protect employees from retaliation. Employers who unlawfully retaliate against an employee may be liable for lost wages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.

Contact an Employment Discrimination Attorney

If you have been the victim of any form of employment discrimination, your rights have been violated. The Texas employment attorneys at Leichter Law Firm PC can help you expose the discrimination you’ve faced. Call (956) 205-0884 to learn more.

What To Expect When Filing a Discrimination Suit

If a person believes that they have been discriminated against in the workplace, they have every right to file an official complaint and begin the litigation process. To receive protection from the laws governed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a person must first file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days of the incident. This petition will notify the EEOC of the person’s discrimination concern and launch an official investigation against the employer.

If no violation is found during the investigation, the petitioner will be granted a Notice of Right to Sue. This notice expresses that the EEOC failed to find any distinct violation, but the petitioner can still file a suit against their employer at their own expense and without the EEOC’s explicit support. After the Notice of Right to Sue is given the EEOC will dismiss the case from its docket.

If a violation is found during the EEOC investigation, it will attempt to reach a settlement with the employer that satisfies all parties. If an amicable settlement cannot be reached, the EEOC legal staff, and in some instances the Department of Justice, will decide whether to pursue a lawsuit against the employer. If the EEOC decides to not to pursue litigation, the petitioner will be granted the Notice of Right to Sue and they can choose to continue with the case at their own expense.

In many instances, the EEOC may ask that a petitioner pursue mediation as an alternative dispute resolution before an investigation is launched. The EEOC may not decide to pursue every case that is submitted in to it, but that does not mean that the petitioner does not have a valid discrimination suit. It is best to consult with an employment attorney about your case so that you can be fully informed of your legal options. Call the Leichter Law Firm PC at (956) 205-0884 to learn more.

Workplace Discrimination FAQs

How do I report workplace discrimination?

If you believe your employer discriminated against you in your workplace for any reason, you can file what is called a “Charge of Discrimination.” This charge includes discrimination based on gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, national origin, disability, age, and more. In order to receive protection from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission laws, you must file a Charge of Discrimination within 180 days of the discriminatory incident. Once the EEOC has been notified of the incident, officials will launch an investigation against your employer.

Will my employer retaliate against me if I report discrimination?

The same laws that protect you from workplace discrimination also protect you from employer retaliation. By law, an employer cannot retaliate in any way against an employee who has reported discrimination, harassment, or filed an unpaid wage claim. Retaliation includes any type of negative employment action, such as termination, demotion, salary reduction, denial of a raise, or shift transfer. If you believe your employer is retaliating against you, you may want to report your concerns to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Can my employer fire me for being pregnant?

Under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), an employer with 15 or more employees may not fire someone for being pregnant. PDA laws also prohibit employers from demoting, refusing to hire, or disciplining a woman because she is pregnant. However, it is important to note that pregnancy does not provide job protection. An employer cannot fire a woman because she is pregnant, but the employer can legally fire a pregnant woman for nondiscriminatory reasons. If you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace for any reason related to pregnancy or childbirth, you may want to file a claim with the EEOC.

What are some signs of discrimination during the hiring process?

A part of the EEOC discrimination laws prohibits employers from basing their hiring decisions on certain information. Consequently, employers are prohibited from even asking questions inquiring about the banned information. If an employer asks you questions relating to your marital status, race, citizenship status, age, religion, or disabilities, know that these questions are not allowed and could be a sign of discrimination. If you believe that you have been discriminated against during an interview or any aspect of the hiring process, contact the employment discrimination attorneys of the Leichter Law Firm PC.

What is considered “reasonable accommodation” for disabled employees?

Employers must meet the needs of disabled employees up to the point where it is unreasonably difficult or expensive for the company to implement a change. This is true whether an employee is disabled on the job or has pre-existing disabilities. Additionally, if a disabled individual is the most qualified for a position, the employer has a duty to accommodate the individual upon hire. Examples of reasonable accommodation are providing a signer for a deaf employee or adding ramps for an employee in a wheelchair. If you are a disabled individual and feel that your employer is not making an effort to accommodate your needs, contact the employment discrimination attorneys of the Leichter Law Firm PC.

What is a whistleblower?

A whistleblower is an individual, generally an employee of a company, who reports a person within the company or the company itself for engaging in illegal activities. The EEOC protects the employment rights of individuals who engage in whistleblowing. Under EEOC laws, employers are prohibited from retaliating, harassing, or discriminating against employees that reported an individual or company for their wrongdoings. If you feel that you have been discriminated against because of whistleblowing, contact the employment discrimination attorneys of the Leichter Law Firm PC.