How do I Fight Job Discrimination?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Job discrimination can occur because of many different reasons. Whether due to ignorance or malice, denying jobs, job benefits, or promotions to qualified candidates because of age, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, health status, or appearance is a common issue and frequently in violation of labor laws. There are several important steps a person can take when confronted with job discrimination; taking smart and prompt action can help lead to a fair resolution of the issue.

Discrimination is sometimes age-based.
Discrimination is sometimes age-based.

It is important to be sure that job discrimination has occurred in the workplace. If a person thinks he or she has been passed over for a job because of their race, for instance, he or she may need to find corroborating evidence to suggest that the job was withheld for a discriminatory reason. Often, workplaces that engage in active discrimination have a pattern of this type of action that is easy to follow. Gathering clear and logical evidence that job discrimination has occurred can help a worker's claim on nearly every level of the fight for resolution.

Employment discrimination may also be a reason for an employee's termination or the reason an employee does not receive comparable compensation.
Employment discrimination may also be a reason for an employee's termination or the reason an employee does not receive comparable compensation.

If discrimination is an ongoing issue in the workplace, it may be a good idea to start a record of all inappropriate action. This may include diary entries detailing verbal remarks that can be considered discriminatory, as well as saved records of any emails, memos, or other documents that contain evidence of discrimination. Keeping a record can help prove to employers, lawyers, and even a jury that discrimination is a consistent and current problem at a workplace.

Once a clear case of discrimination has been established, some experts suggest trying to resolve the issue within the workplace. This usually means making a formal complaint to a supervisor or manager at a higher level. When making a complaint, it is important to remain calm and on the subject, in order to avoid escalating the situation. If a complaint is made in person, follow it up with an email or letter so there is a documented record of the discussion. It may also help to read the company anti-discrimination policy, as well as any applicable state or federal anti-discrimination laws before making a complaint.

If supervisors and managers are unresponsive, a worker may have other options to fight job discrimination, including legal action. Once internal resolution attempts have failed, consulting a lawyer may be the best way to move to the next step of fighting the issue. Some lawyers base their entire careers around labor law and worker's rights, and are often extremely well versed in the applicable laws and procedures involved in a discrimination lawsuit. Many lawyers will offer a free initial consultation to new clients; this meeting can help determine if an actionable case exists for the worker.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


Sometimes one can fight discrimination at workplace if the ones doing the discriminating aren't the higher administrators and managers.

I had a supervisor discriminate against me at one of my jobs. I was unsure of what to do but ended up speaking to the manager. He was appalled and made sure that it never happened again.

I realize that this may not always work because even the highest administrators may be discriminating against employees. In my case, the administrator was on my side and recognized what was happened. So I was able to fight back and stop it.


@SteamLouis-- I agree. Unless one is working at the institution where they were discriminated against, it's very difficult to gather the evidence required to prove that this is happening. For most applicants, unless they were told in writing or verbally that they can't have the job because of their race, religion, gender, age, etc., they can't be sure that there is discrimination. Although anti-discrimination laws are present, they require proof.


When it comes to not being hired due to discrimination, I think it's impossible to fight because it's difficult to know and prove. I mean, these days, one doesn't even get an honest explanation of why the job wasn't given to someone else. Employers usually don't give an explanation and when they do, they say that someone else was more qualified.

I have been job hunting for almost a year with no luck. I've applied to so many jobs and been to so many exams and interviews. I'm guessing that discrimination may be at play, but how can I prove it? There is nothing I can do aside from continuing to apply to jobs and hope that someone hires me.

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