Arizona Workplace Discrimination

Being discriminated in the workplace can be a very frustrating and financially burdening experience. Whether you are being under paid or let go due to an employers personal beliefs, discrimination stands against the very foundation this country was built on.

Fortunately the great state of Arizona has laws in place to protect employees from such prejudice. In an effort to better protect yourself and your rights, this article will discuss exactly what counts as workplace discrimination the procedures in place for filing a lawsuit against discrimination.

What is Discrimination?

Under Arizona State Law, you cannot be discriminated in the workplace because of your…

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Race, Color, or National Origin
  • Mental or Physical Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Retaliation or Protected Activity

What are Examples of Discrimination?

The following are examples of actions based on discriminatory beliefs an employer can be held legally accountable for…

  • Refusing to hire individuals
  • Terminating individuals
  • Providing different compensation, benefits, or work conditions
  • Tolerating or engaging in any form of harassment
  • Failure to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled individuals
  • Pregnancy discrimination

What Happens Next?

After an incident you considered to be discrimination, you will have up until 180 days to report the incident to the proper authorities.

In Arizona, this would mean filing a report to both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Arizona Civil Rights Division (ACRD) at the Attorney General’s Office. Once the claim has been filed, the ACRD will launch an investigation into the matter at no charge to the individual filing the complaint.

After the matter has been investigated, the ACRD will determine “cause” or “no cause” and issue the employee a “right to sue” letter. Once the letter is issued, the discriminated party will have up to 90 days to file a civil suit against the employer. It is important to note that if a lawsuit is not filed within the 90 days, the employee will lose his or her right to sue.

Hiring a Lawyer

Workplace discrimination can be very costly for a company. This is why employers will try everything they can to avoid admitting any wrong doing and make proceedings as complicated as possible. The right employment lawyer can insure that you and your rights are being protected and that you are not taken advantage of.

If you or someone you know even suspects that there may be workplace discrimination involved in a place of employment, contact an experienced Employment Lawyer at Robaina & Kresin PLLC and find out what you can do to protect your rights as an employee


How to Handle Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace can come in different forms of conduct – verbal, visual or physical. Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act defines sexual harassment as behavior that has occurred whenever an employee is unfairly treated owing to his or her gender (in businesses with 15 or more staff.) Most state laws mirror the federal statutes. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and any other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects a person’s employment, unreasonably interferes with their work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Sexual harassment does not have to be sexual in nature but can simply include offensive remarks about a persons sex. Although male-on-female harassment remains more common, there has been a steady rise in the number of males filing charges against female employees or supervisors. In such situations, harassment is typically not sexual in nature, but the female will show favoritism among female employees. Sexual harassment charges that males have filed have risen from 11.6% in 1997 to 16.3% in 2011. This is thought to be due to a rising number of females in managerial positions.

There are two general types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves scenarios in which an employee or supervisor will ask another employee to do something unwelcome or inappropriate (this can include dates or sexual favors), in exchange for something of professional nature. For example, a supervisor may exhibit this behavior by offering an employee a raise or promotion only if they agree to go out for drinks or perform a sexual favor. The second category of sexual harassment is more difficult to prove or legally pinpoint. In a hostile work environment charge, the victim of sexual harassment would need to prove that they were made to feel uncomfortable due to unwelcome sexual advancement, derogatory comments or the displaying of sexualized images.

Most sexual harassment do not reach a jury or formal hearing. In 2009 56.9% of cases investigated by  EEOC were determined to have no reasonable cause. However, because of the large amount of money awarded to those victims who win their cases, monetary benefits awarded totaled more than $121 million that year. Of the charges that do go to a jury trial, the average award is $225,000 – $275,000. Because these cases can be so expensive for businesses, it is important for employers to have a formal, written policy in place. Should any harassment occur, businesses that have written policies which each employee has a copy of will be legally protected because they can prove that they took preventative measures to stop or avoid sexual harassment. Such policies should include a person or department designated to receive any harassment complaints, and a chain of command for how to deal with them.

If you are a victim of sexual harassment it is imperative that you notify your employer. You should follow any sexual harassment policy in place and expect your employer to do the same. If you are unsatisfied with the results you can quickly seek legal counsel. You will have 180 days from the date that the harassment occurred to file a charge (federal employees have 45 days to contact an EEOC counselor). You can sue for money damages, to get your job back if you have been terminated, and ask the court to make your employer change its practices to prevent future sexual harassment from occurring.