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Women: Don't be afraid to speak out about discrimination

You always realized you were the only female on the job, but you knew your work ethic and talents in the field helped secure your position. Working hard is a way of life for you, yet you can't help but feel that others aren't doing as much and are getting more opportunities.

You could be a victim of gender discrimination, which is a kind of discrimination that takes place when you're treated unfairly due to your sex or gender. The law forbids employers from discriminating during any part of employment whether it's the hiring process or during promotions.

What should you do if you suspect discrimination?

If you suspect discrimination, first collect the facts. If you have an email, for example, with a sexist remark, keep that for your attorney and your own records. If someone says something sexual to you or harasses you due to your gender, note the time, date and if there were witnesses.

After you collect evidence, you may consider speaking with the human resources department at your company. If human resources does not investigate or investigates and finds no problem, that doesn't mean you have to agree. At that point, you may consider pursuing a legal claim or contacting the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to report the employer.

There is a time limit on your claim. You have 180 days to file a charge after you claim that you've been discriminated against. Federal employees get 45 days. Not all employers fall under the EEOC's guidelines or requirements, but if your employer has 15 or more employees, then he or she must prevent discrimination in the workplace at all costs.

No one should have to go through discrimination, but it does still exist in today's workplaces. The right help can resolve these situations and send a strong public message that such behavior won't be tolerated.

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Stephen P. New, Attorney at Law
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