What exactly counts as discrimination in the workplace?

by Sheeba
(Suwannee, Georgia)

In my workplace department I am the only person of color. I speak with an accent and I also am forced to do other coworker's jobs when they don't do theirs. I've complained about this before, because I find it unfair for me to have to do their work everyday and have them get credit for it.

This had happened to a previous coworker (also a person of color) and she got fired for not doing their work along with her own. She sued the workplace for discrimination, but lost. What can I do? What exactly counts as discrimination? If you can describe what counts it would be very helpful. Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "What exactly counts as discrimination in the workplace?":

Sheeba (Suwannee, Georgia):

Georgia law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (for wage discrimination claims only), disability, and age (40 to 70 only). Georgia employers with at least 15 employees must comply with most of these laws.

While Georgia’s legal prohibition against discrimination in the workplace is clear, proving discrimination in the workplace is not. To prove discrimination you will need direct evidence.

Direct evidence is a policy, statement, or actions made by an employer or an employer’s authorized agent which demonstrates a bias toward a particular group and is linked to an adverse employment action such as a failure to hire, terminate employment, transfer, or demote an employee.

To prove discrimination you will have to have actual evidence your employer discriminated against you based on those requirements.

For example, your employer might tell you you are too old to be able to complete your work duties, an internal memo from a supervisor cautioning the employer not to hire you because you are black and your accent makes it difficult for customers to understand you, or that your accent lowers the prestige of the company.

In many cases, employers are too smart to expose themselves by blatant acts of discrimination. As a result, you may have to acquire circumstantial evidence. For example, suppose you are Hispanic and your employment was terminated for not following the company’s dress code. You can then show non-Hispanic white employees wore similar clothes at work and their employment was not terminated.

When an employee successful proves discrimination the employee may be entitled to damages. In a wrongful termination case, damages can include reimbursement for lost pay, loss of benefits, emotional distress, and even punitive damages.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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