Unfortunately, workplace discrimination occurs. It can happen to you or to a colleague. Either experience can be painful. There are both federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace. It can be important to understand what the law prohibits and what the remedies are. If this has happened to you or if you have witnessed discrimination in the workplace, it can be helpful to get the help of an experienced Tulsa workplace discrimination attorney.
What Discrimination in the Workplace Can Look Like
Both state and federal law protect workers from being treated unfavorably because of certain protected characteristics such as age, race, gender, disability, genetic information, country of origin, pregnancy, skin color, or religion. An employer cannot hire, fire, or otherwise treat an employee unfairly based on these characteristics in any facet of their employment.
An employee becomes pregnant; a job applicant is Muslim or has a different skin tone than another applicant; an older employee can still do their job, but is not as pleasant to look at as they once were; an employee gains weight – these are just a few examples of characteristics that should not affect employment.
As long as the employee is performing their duties well, they should not be treated unfairly based on these circumstances. Yet, discrimination violations occur with some frequency in the workplace. However, it should not be tolerated.
Federal Discrimination Law
There are federal laws in place that protect workers from discrimination.
Some of these include:
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963 — prohibits employers and unions from paying unequal salaries to employees based on sex
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — protects women, people of color, race, religion, and national origin from unequal treatment based on those characteristics
- The Age Discrimination Act of 1968 — protects older employees
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 — protects those with disabilities
Oklahoma State Law
Oklahoma state law also prohibits discrimination based on age, race, gender, disability, country of origin, and genetic information via the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act. Okla. Stat. tit. 25, § 1101, et seq. The law applies to public and private sector employers but does not extend to religious organizations.
It is against the law for an Oklahoma employer to:
To fail or refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate based on protected characteristics unless the employer can show that accommodating the disability would impose an undue hardship on business operations.
An employer also may not limit, segregate, or classify an employee or applicant in a way that would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect the status of an employee, because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information or disability, unless the employer can demonstrate that accommodation for the disability would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business of such employer. Okla. Stat. tit. 25, § 1302
How to File a Claim
Workplace discrimination in Oklahoma can be addressed by filing with either the state administrative agency, the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission (OHRC), or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency. There are strict deadlines for filing, so it is important to be proactive in any claim you want to pursue.
The agency you file with will often choose to investigate the claim and may ask for you and your employer to participate in mediation to resolve the claim. Mediation is meant to resolve the claim and to allow the employee to obtain redress for the discriminatory action affecting them.
The agency might also choose to issue you a “Notice of Right to Sue.” This notice is a prerequisite to any lawsuit that you may wish to file in an Oklahoma court.
In state court, if the employer is found to have engaged in a discriminatory practice, the court may award the employee:
- Actual and punitive damages;
- Reasonable attorney fees;
- Court costs; and
- An injunction, restraining order, or other order to redress the wrong. Okla. Stat. tit. 25, § 1506.3
These cases can be complex and facts are important. Seek the help of an Oklahoma workplace discrimination lawyer.
Free Consultation With a Tulsa Workplace Discrimination Attorney
Ensure that you have the help you need to protect your job, your career, and your financial future. We at the Wirth Law Office are ready to help you. If you would like a free consultation with a Tulsa, Oklahoma lawyer, call 918-879-1681 or toll-free 1-888-Wirth-Law (1-888-947-8452).
If you prefer written correspondence, you may submit a question through the form at the top right of this page.