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Allegheny County workplace discrimination lawyer EEOC claimWhen you file a workplace discrimination claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), this organization will investigate your complaint to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support your claim. If so, the EEOC will file charges against the employer and attempt to settle the case through its conciliation process. 

If the employer refuses to settle your case through conciliation, only then will the EEOC consider filing a federal court lawsuit against that employer. However, the EEOC is not required to pursue your case in court. In fact, the EEOC only pursues litigation in a small percentage of the cases where it finds sufficient evidence of discrimination and fails to resolve the case through conciliation. In making this determination, the EEOC considers factors such as the seriousness of the violation, the specific legal issues involved, and the extent to which a court ruling on the case would advance the agency’s wider efforts to reduce and prevent workplace discrimination. 

The Benefits of Engaging a Private Attorney for Your Pittsburgh Workplace Discrimination Case

You will find it valuable to consult a private attorney about your case even before you file a workplace discrimination complaint with the federal EEOC or the corresponding state agency, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). 

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Pittsburgh employer racial discrimination attorneyIf you take a careful look around your workplace, you may honestly be able to say that you see no evidence of racial discrimination. However, not everyone in Pennsylvania can say that. Employer race discrimination continues to be surprisingly common in the state. 

In fact, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 1,195 race-based employment discrimination charges from Pennsylvania in 2017, and it has received a roughly similar number each year since 2011. Pennsylvania ranked seventh among the 50 states in race-based complaints in 2017. Texas had the largest number of charges (2,999), followed by Florida, Georgia, California, Illinois, and North Carolina. It should also be noted, however, that the EEOC found that 75% of all U.S. race-based charges were unsupported by the evidence. 

To provide an idea of what types of racial discrimination charges are still being filed against employers in Pennsylvania, here are two recent cases that appeared in the news in 2018:

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Wexford, PA racial discrimination lawyerVirtually all U.S. employers, regardless of size, have an employee handbook that clearly states a company policy against racial discrimination and harassment. Employees are typically required to sign a form stating that they have read and agree to these policies. Companies hold harassment awareness training sessions. Job postings state that the company is an Equal Opportunity Employer whose employment decisions “shall be made without regard to race, creed, color, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local law.” All of these measures are meant to ensure that the employer complies with Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which specifically prohibits racial discrimination and applies to all employers with 15 or more employees.  

However, racial discrimination and harassment persist in some companies and some geographic areas. Sometimes it is subtle or hidden, making you unsure whether you are justified in filing a complaint against your employer.

How Do I Know If I Have a Valid Discrimination Complaint?

Racial discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employer treats workers of one race worse than those of another race. Some of the most common examples involve hiring, retention, or promotion actions that favor one race over another. Other examples include assigning certain job tasks disproportionately to people of one race or paying employees of one race less than other employees who do the same job.

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Pittsburgh workplace discrimination lawyersEvery citizen of the United States has the right to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of age, skin color, ancestry, sexual orientation, or any other characteristics they may have. While no rule could possibly prevent every insult or instance of exclusion, there are laws in place to prevent discrimination in the workplace on the basis of certain personal characteristics. Sexual harassment—a form of sex-based employment discrimination—has been at the forefront of public consciousness for the last year or so, but other types of discrimination also occur every day throughout the country.

One of New York City’s best-known department stores is currently facing a lawsuit filed by eight former employees—all of whom are men and most of whom are older and black. The men say that Saks Fifth Avenue discriminated against them on the basis of age and race. They also claim that they were treated much differently than workers who were younger and white were treated.

A “Glass Ceiling”

The plaintiffs include four black men, two white men, and two Hispanic men. More than half of the men are over the age of 54. In their lawsuit, the men allege that black and Hispanic employees of Saks are restricted by a “glass ceiling” in place for people of color. They say that this was made evident in a variety of ways during the course of their employment. In general, the claimants allege that they were assigned to departments with low customer traffic so as to keep them “far removed from the department’s front entrance.” When the employees’ sales numbers lagged as a result, they were evaluated poorly. When they made sales goals anyway, the men said that managers found other ways to criticize their performance.

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Pittsburgh sexual harassment attorneysIn the last blog entry, we discussed hostile work environment sexual harassment. In this entry, we will look at the second type of sexual harassment in the workplace, quid pro quo harassment. The Latin phrase “quid pro quo” roughly translates to "something for something." When an employer or supervisor offers work benefits in exchange for sexual favors, he or she is guilty of quid pro quo harassment.

Examples of Quid Pro Quo

Although this type of sexual harassment happens less frequently than hostile work environment harassment, it can be just as demeaning, unprofessional, and abusive. There are several ways that quid pro quo harassment can take place. A manager may approach a subordinate employee and ask him or her out on a date. If the employee denies the manager, the manager could imply that the employee will lose his or her job if they do not comply. Another instance of quid pro quo harassment occurs when a person in authority either directly states or even just implies that he or she will give his or her subordinate special work privileges in exchange for sexual acts or affection. Even someone not yet an employee who is only interviewing for a position can be a victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment. If an employer suggests or says that a job candidate must tolerate sexual behavior in order to receive the job, that employer is guilty of sexual harassment.

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