Employment discrimination in Philadelphia occurs when an employee or job applicant has been subjected to a hostile work environment, suspended, demoted, harassed or terminated based on factors other than job performance, including, but not limited to: pregnancy, race, color, national origin, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, military status, religion, or citizenship. These are protected classes under the law, and it is illegal to discriminate against an employee or job applicant because he or she is a member of one of these classes. For the past 25 years, the Derek Smith Law Group has helped victims of employment discrimination in Philadelphia receive the compensation they deserve. deserve for their Philadelphia Employment Discrimination cases.
What is Employment Discrimination in Philadelphia?
Employment discrimination in the workplace in Philadelphia is treating an employee or job applicant unfairly because of his or her status under a protected class. As mentioned above, a protective class includes:
- National Origin
- Age (over 40)
- Sexual Orientation
- Genetic Information
- Equal Pay/Compensation
- Military Status
Under the law, an employee or job applicant cannot be treated unfairly or harassed because of his or her membership in one of these or other protected classes. Doing so is illegal and is employment discrimination.
Several federal laws protect employees and job applicants from employment discrimination in Philadelphia. Federally, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against an employee or job applicant (or harass) because of the individual’s status under race, religion, age, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, citizenship, national origin and more.
Many federal laws make different types of discrimination illegal, such as:
- U.S. Code §1981
- Fair Labor Standards Act
- The Equal Pay Act
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008
- and the US Equality Act of 2015
Pennsylvania also has a law that protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination in the workplace: The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
Additionally, the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance is another local law that will help protect employees and job applicants from employment discrimination in the workplace.
There are three types of evidence most commonly found in employment discrimination cases: Direct evidence; Disparate Evidence; and Policy evidence.
- Direct Evidence. This is the “smoking gun” type of evidence. When an employer/CEO, supervisor/manager or even fellow employee or non-employee directly say to you that your status as a member of a protected class is the reason you did not get the job, were fired, demoted, refused a pay raise, refused a promotion, picked on, denied public accommodations, or any other unfair treatment in the workplace, this is direct evidence. This can come in the form of a verbal conversation or written communication, such as an email. Furthermore, this can be said directly to you could accidentally see or hear the communication intended for someone else.
- Disparate Evidence. This is based on inferred meaning. In other words, disparate evidence means that there is a culture of making employment decisions and harassing or treating employees and job applicants unfairly because of their status of a protected class. For instance, if you can show that no one who is over 40 works in the workplace and that you are over 40 and turned down for the position, even though you were as qualified as the person who received the job offer, you may have disparate evidence of age discrimination.
- Policy Evidence. Policy evidence is when there is a policy in place that is intended to or does discriminate against employees of a protected class. The policy does not need to intentionally discriminate as discrimination in the workplace is not always intentional. For Instance, if there is a policy in the employee handbook that says no one should be away from their desk for more than 5 minutes at a time per hour for any reason, that may unintentionally discriminate against Muslims who need prayer times throughout the day, pregnant women, and anyone who has a medical condition that requires them to be away from their deck for more than 5 minutes once per hour.
Employment discrimination can come in many forms. It can occur between fellow employees, come from supervisors or managers, clients or customers, vendors, or even the company CEO. Here are a few examples of employment discrimination:
- Jokes about different foreign accents
- Unwanted physical touching
- Refusal to hire a pregnant woman because she is pregnant
- Refusal to offer prayer time to Muslim employees
- Scheduling essential project meetings during the Jewish holidays
- Not promoting a qualified employee because of his or her national origin
- Forcing an employee to use public accommodations on the other end of the building because he or she is black/African American
- Not allowing a Jewish individual to wear a yarmulke at work
- Cutting the hours of employees over 40
- Forcing an employee over 40 to retire
- Spreading lies about an employee who refused sexual advances
- Sexist comics being passed around the office
- Refusal to put a ramp at the entrance of the office to allow disabled employees access
- Using derogatory slurs against a Gay or Lesbian co-worker
- Using racial slurs in the office in general
- Reporting an employee to ICE as a method of retaliation
- Denying a person with Diabetes the opportunity to eat lunch at a time that he or she requires
- Refusing an employee the opportunity to work on a project because of his or her skin color
- Wrongful termination of an employee because he or she is Gay or Lesbian
- Refusing to give a pay raise to an employee over 40 even though he or she has taken on the additional work
These are just a few of many examples so f employment discrimination as they may occur in the workplace. The key is that any type of harassment or unfair treatment aimed at a person because of his or her protected class status is an example of employment discrimination, is illegal, and should not be tolerated.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) governs Title VII claims. The time limit provided to file a Title VII claim is 300 days of the date of the last incident of employment discrimination.
The Pennsylvania Commission of Human Rights and the Philadelphia Commission of Human Rights allow a time limit of 1 year from the date of the last incident of employment discrimination to file a claim for investigation.
Each individual federal law has different time limits to file claims. For instance, Section 1981 allows 4 years from the date of the last incident of race discrimination to file a claim. Therefore, it is essential to know your rights and work with an attorney that can help you navigate the system.
If you are the victim of employment discrimination, it is natural to wonder what relief can be sought in the courts. While much of the relief is often monetary, some can be injunctive relief (or actions) the court an insist your employer take. Here are some of the remedies available through the Philadelphia courts:
- Reinstatement of employment and benefits
- Back pay
- Future pay
- Reimbursement of benefit premiums
- Reimbursement for medical expenses and other related expenses
- Attorney’s fees
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Punitive damages. These are damages meant to punish the employer. They are calculated, in part, based on the nature of the action, the gross profits of the company, and whether this is the first offense.
The time it takes to settle your employment discrimination in Philadelphia is entirely based on the case and the employer (or defendant). The average case can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to 1 year or longer. If your employer is willing to negotiate and offers a fair settlement prior to going to trial, the case will be over in a few months. However, if the employer wishes to go to trial and refuses to settle, your case can take a year or longer to settle.
In order to have the best chance to succeed in your case and get the compensation you deserve, you should follow these steps:
- Contact an employment discrimination attorney in Philadelphia immediately.
- If you are still employed, do not quit your job. It can actually hurt your case.
- If your company has an HR department, report the discrimination in writing.
- If your company has a policy and/or procedure to handle employment discrimination, follow the policy as described.
- Collect evidence. Document every incident, when it occurred, what happened, who was involved, and who witnessed the incident.
Discrimination in the workplace is something that no one should have to deal with. There is nothing that should determine your status, treatment, or pay in a company besides your work ethic, skill set, and ability to handle your job responsibilities. If you are the victim of employment discrimination in Philadelphia, the Derek Smith Law Group can help. Contact us today at (215) 391-4790 for a free consultation. We do not get paid until you win your case.