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Lawsuits Against Employers for Unfair Treatment

Over the years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has established multiple instances of case precedent that govern what an employer is meant to do in order to treat their employees with fairness and respect. However, it also means that the EEOC has ruled against certain employer practices, and that any employer in this day and age who still attempts to practice them might wind up engaging in discrimination, intentionally or not. Here is some information to know when considering filing a lawsuit against an employer for unfair treatment.

In Fact Or In Practice

One important caveat to remember is that an employer may attempt to claim that some of their standard practices might be discriminatory in action, but were not intended to or written to be. This is irrelevant, as EEOC guidance holds that if an employer acts in a manner that is discriminatory toward a specific person or group, then that practice must cease or be amended to stop the discriminatory effect.

The one caveat to this requirement is if the employer can show that the discriminatory action is necessary to the business. For example, a requirement that all workers have perfect vision might be discriminatory against the visually impaired or against older workers. However, if the employer is engaged in the business of manufacturing items which require pinpoint precision, such as artillery shells, requiring perfect vision might conceivably be necessary to do business. This type of issue is often determined on a case-by-case basis, since the ability to prove whether a characteristic (or lack thereof) is integral to being able to do business is fraught with technicalities and unique factors with each employer.

Unfair Treatment in the Employer’s Hiring Process

One other major misconception is that employers are not duty bound to treat a person appropriately during the hiring process because they are not technically an employee at that point. This is manifestly incorrect. The hiring process is perhaps the most common time that an employee will encounter unfair treatment from an employer. As before, the concept of necessity in relation to performing the job is paramount. Any question asked or test required must relate directly to ability, rather than any secondary salient characteristic.

Pre-employment practices offering questions is where many employers unintentionally (or intentionally) put a proverbial foot wrong. In theory, any questions asked at an interview should be limited to those that determine someone’s ability to do the job in question. The law does not explicitly forbid one from asking questions that might illuminate someone’s race, disability or any other characteristic that one might use to discriminate. But if it comes to that, questions of such a nature can be used to insinuate discriminatory intent or unfair treatment on the part of the employer.

An Employment Discrimination Lawyer Can Help

Because so many small details can often make or break an employment discrimination case, it is often best to consult an attorney before going forward. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and his Charleston employment law firm stand ready, willing and able to assist you with any questions you might have about a situation where discrimination or unfair treatment by an employer might be an issue.

Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.


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