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How to protect yourself after workplace discrimination

If you suspect workplace discrimination, the first thing you'll do is take a step back to ensure that you're not seeing things. You want to be 100 percent certain that your first inclination is correct.

From there, it's critical that you take steps to protect your legal rights and employment. Here's what you should do:

  • Report the incident to your employer: Don't bottle it up inside and hope for the best. Tell your employer what's happening and do whatever it takes to file a formal complaint. You want your complaint to be on record. Also, make note of whom you spoke with in the HR department.
  • Follow up: Don't give your employer an endless amount of time to look into your complaint. Ask them how long it will take to conduct an investigation, and then follow up accordingly. This helps to show them that you're serious about the matter.
  • Take detailed notes and keep detailed records: This is all meant to back up your claim. For instance, if you have emails or voice messages from a supervisor showing their discriminatory behavior, keep it in a safe place, along with all of your other records.
  • Contact the appropriate government agency: On a federal level, this is typically the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You may need to bring them into your case if your employer is not taking the necessary steps to figure things out. Doing this is sure to show them that you're serious about protecting your legal rights.
  • Don't retaliate: As tempting as it may be, you're best off keeping your cool and continuing to do your job as expected, as long as you're still an employee. Don't retaliate by speaking out against others, becoming violent or taking reckless actions.

Any form of workplace discrimination, regardless of the immediate impact on your life, requires your attention. Letting this slide one time has the potential to turn into additional trouble in the future.

It's your goal to not only put a stop to the discrimination once and for all, but to also protect your legal rights. By taking the right steps you may be able receive compensation and/or reinstatement by your employer.

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