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What to Do if You are Facing Discrimination

1.  CONSULT A LAWYER:  If you believe that you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace, it is highly recommended that you consult a lawyer to determine what steps you should take to protect your job and stop the discrimination. Often it is wise to speak to a lawyer first as there may be things that you need to do to protect yourself, including possible retaliation for complaining. 


2.  ATTEND GELC's CLINIC ON EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION:  At GELC's clinic you are able to speak to an attorney who can answer your questions and give you guidance as to whether you have a case, what steps you should consider taking to protect your employment rights and address similar types of questions and issues. The clinic is free for those who can’t afford a nominal $25 donation.


3.  READ YOUR PERSONNEL MANUAL:  If your employer has a Personnel Manual you should obtain a copy and read what it says you need to do if you believe you are being discriminated against.


4.  COMPLAIN EARLY:  If you believe that you are being discriminated against, it is important to complain in writing (e.g., email) to your personnel department, but be very careful about what you say as you want to be completely accurate with your statement about what happened. If you make a mistake with what you write, your employer may not believe you, so it is extremely important to be accurate. This is particularly true because it will sometimes be your word against their word. Which is why it is best to get evidence first before complaining. Whatever evidence you have regarding the discrimination you should keep in a safe place outside of your workplace. You will be asked in the future to prove that your employer was aware of your complaint of discrimination, or should have been and took no action.


5.  MAKE SURE YOUR EMPLOYER KNOWS THERE IS A PROBLEM:  Does your employer have a discrimination policy? If so, use it. At your workplace there may be human resource people or union representatives who can help you.


6.  KEEP A DIARY listing facts you believe are important to what is happening to you in the workplace, including each incident of discrimination, the time, date, the names of anyone who witnessed it, any documentation you have regarding it, any indication of retaliatory treatment, such as any change in duties, privileges, negative behavior toward you, any negative changes in responsibilities, treatment, exclusion from meetings, or denial of time off. In other words, if you are being treated more harshly than others, or than how you been treated in the past, you should make a note about it. Keep this diary at home. Make sure you are accurant and be as specific as you can. Use exact quotes if possible. Be sure to include details of how you responded to each incident.


7.  COLLECT ALL IMPORTANT EMPLOYEE DOCUMENTS AND KEEP THEM AT HOME. Should you need to take legal action, it is important that you have as much documentation of your job performance and responsibilities as possible. Often, an employer will try to blame an employee and fire an employee if they think they may be sued for discrimination. It is important to be able to document your job performance, including job description and communications with your supervisor about your job, prior evaluations, commendations, recommendations, and thanks you have received to corroborate how well you do your job. Store these documents in your home.


8.  KEEP A LIST OF THE NAMES of all persons involved in the discriminatory treatment, including witnesses, coworkers and officials whom you have gone to for help, including job title, contact address, and phone number. Include the names of anyone you spoke to about the discrimination, even if it is a friend or family member outside of work because they can serve as witnesses of your having mentioned it.


Equal Employment

Opportunity Commission
33 Whitehall Street
New York, New York 10004


New York State Division of

Human Rights 

One Fordham Plaza, 4th Floor
Bronx, New York 10458
(718) 741-8400

The New York City Commission on Human Rights
Law Enforcement Bureau
40 Rector Street, 9th Floor
New York, New York 10006
(212) 306-7450.

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