Deafening Silence: What to Do When HR Ignores Your Discrimination Complaints

coworkers arguing

Charges of workplace discrimination have decreased recently, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) latest Enforcement and Litigation Data. There were over 76,418 charges of workplace discrimination that the EEOC received in 2018, a decline from 84,254 cases filed in 2017.

Despite the overall downturn of cases, sexual harassment cases saw a 13.6% increase from the previous year. The agency stated that recent demonstrations related to this case have caused more people to come out and press charges. The sheer amount of cases that the EEOC received is a testament that resolving workplace conflicts internally doesn’t give some people justice.

If you feel that your discrimination complaints fell on deaf ears or aren’t a priority for your human resources department, here’s what you need to do.

Speak with a Lawyer

If you plan on filing a case against the company, it’s best to call a lawyer as soon as you can. If you want to file a lawsuit, the statute of limitations for discrimination charges in Denver is 300 days from the date of the incident. It applies to companies with 15 or more workers. For businesses that have fewer than 15 employees, the time limit is decreased to 180 days.

When you talk to your lawyer, make sure you don’t leave out any details about the discrimination you faced. If you’ve documented your conversation with your employer’s HR representatives, show your attorney every note you took. Some people may be pressured not to speak about these issues for fear of their company retaliating. You shouldn’t worry when you’re talking about this case with your lawyer since the attorney-client privilege protects you. Once you’ve divulged the necessary details to your attorney, they’ll take it from there.

You Can Resolve It Peacefully, Too

employee mediationWhen it comes to resolving workplace conflicts like discrimination, going to court isn’t the only option. If you want to settle things peacefully and without much pressure from a judge and jury, ask your attorney to opt for employee mediation. The EEOC says that meditation helps people resolve cases in a friendly manner. This often leads to faster settlements. The agency says that arbitration may take less than three months, which is significantly faster, compared with the 10 months or longer it takes to investigate your employer in a formal case.

Avoid Retaliation

More than half of the latest workplace charges received by the EEOC were about retaliation for past discrimination complaints. It continues to be the most common type of discrimination charges that the agency gets. It may come in the form of sudden demotions and/or transfers, indefinite suspensions, or worse: termination. The EEOC says that retaliation can be prevented by not talking about the case publicly.  If they do retaliate and can’t come up with a legitimate reason behind their action, bring the matter up with the EEOC with your lawyer.

Despite laws and organizations cracking down on workplace discrimination, it’s still a significant problem that minorities continue to experience daily in the United States. It’s important to keep fighting against it even though you feel like you’re not supported by your fellow employees or the HR department. Taking a stand for equal rights will always be worth the countless hours of court or mediation.

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