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Unlawful Discrimination

Unlawful discrimination refers to treating a person unfairly or unequally based on certain characteristics. These characteristics include:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Religion
  • National origin

People with these characteristics are in a legally protected class. If they are discriminated based on a characteristic, then they may have a legal right to sue.

Where Does Unlawful Discrimination Usually Happen?

Both state and federal laws prohibit discrimination many different areas such as:

  • Housing
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Health care services
  • Government benefits
  • Government services
  • Voting
  • Public accommodations
  • Land use
  • Land zoning
  • Lending money
  • Lending credit
  • Transportation

Housing Discrimination and Some Examples

Landlords are allowed to deny housing on the basis of legitimate business reasons. A few examples of this include credit history, income, references from past landlords, and past behavior, such as damaging property. Housing discrimination refers to a person being denied housing due to their membership to a protected class, and not for any legitimate business reasons.

Protected classes include:

  • Race;
  • National origin;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • Age;
  • Disability, whether physical or mental; and
  • Pregnancy.

There are state and federal laws in place that make it illegal to deny someone housing based solely on the above mentioned characteristics. Biased treatment is unlawful during housing related activities, such as renting, buying, and lending. Additionally, it is prohibited to select tenants based on their familial status, such as having children, or their marital status.

Examples of housing discrimination could include:

  • A landlord requiring that an interracial couple utilize application criteria that is more burdensome than that required of other applicants;
  • A bank refuses to provide loan information to a person based on their protected class;
  • A real estate broker acting on behalf of a contractor publishes the availability of a newly built housing complex as being for white tenants only. In such cases, both the broker and the contractor would be engaging in discriminatory behavior;
  • A landlord advertising an apartment for sale and confirms with an inquiring couple, on the phone, that the unit is available. However, when the couple arrives to the unit thirty minutes later, and the landlord sees that the couple is interracial, they are told that the unit has since been rented; and
  • A potential renter wearing clothing associated with a particular religion visits a leasing office in which it is clearly stated that there are units available, only to be told that the signage is incorrect.

Fair Housing Act and Housing Exceptions Under the Federal Housing Act

As part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings. This extends to other housing related activities including the dissemination of false information about the availability of housing.

Examples of dissemination of false information include incorrectly stating that there are no units available, or suggesting that people who are looking to buy in one area instead buy in another based on their race. Upon its passing, its central objective was to prohibit race discrimination in the sales and renting of housing. However, it has since extended to cover all protected classes.

The FHA applies to the following circumstances:

  • Selling or renting real estate;
  • Advertising real estate;
  • Providing financial assistance for buyers or renters of real estate;
  • Brokering or appraising real estate;
  • Participating in real estate organizations;
  • Intimidating, coercing, or threatening others in regards to their purchase or rental; and
  • Interfering with a person's right of enjoyment and use of housing rights based on discriminatory reasons.

Additionally, the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to:

  • Engage in mortgage lending discrimination;
  • Harass people based on their protected class;
  • Interfere with anyone exercising their FHA rights; and
  • Retaliate against someone who has filed a fair housing complaint, or assists in the investigation of a fair housing complaint.

There are four major exceptions to the Fair Housing Act:

  1. Single family homes, as long as:
    • The home is also rented or sold by the owner;
    • The owner does not own more than three homes at a time;
    • The advertising for the sale or rental was not discriminatory; and
    • The owner did not use a real estate or broker
  2. Rooms or units in a building with a maximum of four units, as long as the owner is living in one of those units;
  3. Rooms or units owned either directly or indirectly by a religious organization. This is true only if preference is only given on the basis of that membership, and membership in that religion is not restricted by race, color, or nationality; and
  4. Rooms or units owned by a private organization for non-commercial use, as long as preference is only given on the basis of membership to that organization and is not restricted by race, color, or nationality

What To Do If I Have Been Unlawfully Denied Housing?

If you feel you have been discriminated against, it is important that you begin by filing a complaint with the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (“FHEO”). The Office is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”). Your complaint should include the facts that prove why you believe you were violated. The complaint will be reviewed by the HUD and may require a response on the part of the accused party before the FHEO conducts an investigation. Next, they will determine whether there is enough evidence to establish that a violation did indeed occur.

Complaints must be filed within one year of the last date of the alleged discrimination. Following an investigation, the FHEO will issue its findings as to whether there is a reasonable cause to find a violation has occurred. If the investigation does indeed find cause, the HUD or the Department of Justice will take legal action against the violator.

Federal Laws That Protect Against Sex Discrimination

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers may not discriminate against employees or potential employees based on sex. This act is the largest piece of anti-discrimination legislation enacted by the U.S. government.

Within the act, Title VII prohibits discrimination of employees on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. Under Title VII's prohibition of sex-based discrimination, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was added as an amendment that protects pregnant women from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.

An increasing number of courts are ruling that Title VII also provides protection for LGBTQ individuals. However, this is still limited to court rulings and is not a formal law. As of August 2018, he protection of LGBTQ individuals is still not codified or put in a government created law, so protection under Title VII is not guaranteed.

Sex-Based Discrimination

Sex discrimination involves treating or discriminating against someone, or harassing them, differently or unfavorably because of their sex or gender. Sex discrimination against a person because of their sex is a violation of federal law.

The law forbids sex discrimination by an employer when it comes to any aspect of employment or job-related duties including firing, hiring, employment benefits, job assignments, terms and conditions of employment, layoff, and bonuses. Retaliation by an employer for an employee asserting their rights under Title VII is also illegal.

It is also unlawful to harass an employee in the workplace because of their sex or gender. Harassment can include any unwelcome gesture or sexual advances that are not consented or welcomed by the employee.

Which Employers are Required to Follow Title VII?

Title VII does not apply to every employer. But it does apply to:

  • Private employers with at least 15 employees;
  • Federal government;
  • State governments and their agencies;
  • Employment agencies; and
  • Labor organizations.

Essentially, it applies to employers/organizations that are large enough for federal interference. This does not mean that employers are free to discriminate based on sex or gender. Local state laws may apply when federal laws do not, so if your employer does not count under the federal law, be sure to check your local law.

What To Do If I Have Been a Victim of Sex Discrimination?

First, you should take your concerns to the Human Resources department of your employer, or use your employer's stated internal process for resolving complaints.

If this is unsuccessful, you may file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You must do this before you can file a lawsuit. The EEOC has offices around the country. You can file a charge at the nearest local office, or online.

There are timelines within which you must file your claim after the discrimination occurs, so if you believe you are the victim of sex discrimination, you should check into this immediately. If the EEOC does not find for discrimination, you will be released to pursue the matter in court (to file a lawsuit) and given a Notice of Right to Sue. Many states also have separate agencies that handle discrimination charges, and you may file charges with them, as well.

Can I Win a Federal Sex Discrimination Case?

In order to win a sex discrimination claim, you only need to show that sex was a “substantial factor” in your employer's discriminatory actions. It only needs to be a substantial factor and does not need to be the only factor. It also doesn't matter if the employer and discriminated employee are of the same sex.

Your employer may also have several defenses that may make it harder to win the sex discrimination claim. One defense employers can raise is “bona fide occupational qualification.” This means that if a person is incapable of doing a job because of their sex, Title VII does not prohibit seemingly discriminatory actions.

For example, a job requirement to be able to lift a certain amount of weight may preclude women from being good candidates for a job, and this requirement may be held to be legitimate as a bona fide occupational qualification. As another example, if an employer needs models for a male clothing line and hires only men to be models, a woman who was denied a job as a model would not have a claim against the employer.

Sex Discrimination and Employment Policies and Practices

All employers that have employees must have special rules that govern sex discrimination in the workplace. An employer policy or practice that applies to everyone would prohibit sexual discrimination and harassment within the workplace by employees and employers.

While it probably will not vary widely between employers, it is possible that certain employers may have a stricter requirement. Like employers of religious organizations or companies that are clearly founded for religious purposes.

Employment Discrimination

Employment discrimination may happen when an employee (or potential employee) is treated less favorably than other similar employees, solely because of certain characteristics. These characteristics or backgrounds are ones that are protected by law, and may include their age, sex, gender, religion, disability, or other categories. 

Employment discrimination can also happen when one group of employees are treated better than another group, based again on protected classes or categories, which are defined by various laws. An example of this is where one group of workers clearly receives benefits that are denied to others on the basis of their sex. 

Such discrimination typically happens when a person is already hired. It can also happen however when a person is still seeking employment (such as when a person isn't hired because they are of a certain religion). 

Multiple Factor Employment Discrimination

In many instances, employment discrimination cases involve only one specific characteristic of a person. For example, a person may typically be discriminated against on the basis of their age or their country of origin. However, multiple factor employment discrimination occurs when an employer discriminates against a person based on more than one trait or characteristics. 

For instance, an individual may be discriminated against in a work setting because of both their sex as well as their gender. Again, this can happen in a variety of contexts, and can involve many different individuals as well as groups. 

Laws Against Employment Discrimination

There are various state and federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against an employee. These laws have impacted work environments in many ways throughout U.S. history, and each has its own role in defining employment discrimination. 

Some of the more significant laws involving employment discrimination include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: This is a federal anti-discrimination act that makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees ont he basis of sex, race, color, religion, or national origin. It applies to both private employers as well as those in local, state, and federal governments;
  • The Equal Pay Act (EPA): The EPA protects employers against gender discrimination. In particular, it provides that employees of different genders should be paid equally if they are doing equal work; 
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): The ADEA provides protection from discrimination for employers who are 40 years and older. It addresses specific situations, such as being forced to retire based on age; 
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): As with other anti-discrimination laws, this prohibits discrimination against a person based on their disability status. It also touches on other aspects of employment, such as providing reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities; 
  • The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA): The IRCA imposes various requirements on employers in connection with employees' immigration status. For instance, it addresses when and how an employer should verify the employment eligibility of workers; and
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA is a federal law that governs how employees can take unpaid medical leave. Among other provisions, it provides protection against being fired while on a legitimate or approved medical leave.

What Else is Prohibited by Employment Discrimination Laws?

As mentioned, it is also illegal to treat one group more favorably over another based on protected categories. For instance, it would be illegal to grant a higher pay salary to one group over another group of workers solely based on their race. This is especially true if both groups are performing the same tasks. 

Additionally, employment discrimination laws are also expanding to include more different categories and classes. Specifically, sexual orientation and gender identity are being considered more and more when it comes to anti-discrimination policies and laws. 

State laws may have their own specific provisions that might differ from other states. For instance, California employment discrimination laws may vary from those of Texas or New York or other states.

Examples of Workplace Discrimination

One of the most common examples of workplace discrimination is where a potential employee is not hired solely on the basis of their race, age, or other protected status. Another common example is where a current employee is denied benefits or a promotion due to their membership in a protected class. 

Of course, many wrongful termination claims are closely related to, or involve discrimination claims. It is common for many people to be fired on the basis of their sex, age, gender, or other classifications, which make it illegal under discrimination laws. 

Filing an Employment Discrimination Claim

In many instances, an employee is required to file with a government agency first before they can file a lawsuit for employment discrimination. This is done in most cases by filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will conduct an investigation into the discrimination claim will prescribe an appropriate remedy.

In the event that the remedy is not sufficient or satisfactory, the person can often then file a private lawsuit. However, they will usually be required to go through the EEOC or other similar agency first.

Proving Employment Discrimination

Employment discrimination may be proven through many means and types of evidence. This can include:

  • Written evidence of the discrimination, such as any emails or other communications, company policies or handbooks, job offers and employment contracts, and other writings;
  • Verbal communications, such as statements made in an interview or other situations;
  • Documents, such as pay stubs or human resources records that might support the claim; and
  • Various other types of evidence that is relevant to your situation.

If you feel you have been discriminated against, you may wish to begin compiling any items such as these listed above. These may help support your case; contacting an attorney can also help you in terms of preparing for a case.

What Can You Receive If You Win an Employment Discrimination Claim?

This depends on the type of losses or damages caused by the discrimination. Remedies in an employment discrimination claim often include:

  • Payment for lost wages;
  • Reinstatement to the previous work position after a wrongful termination;
  • Reinstatement of lost benefits (such as lost retirement benefits); and/or
  • Changes to the company's policies and practices. 

Filing a claim can also help uncover other instances of discrimination, so it can beneficial for an employee to file a claim if needed. Employers also cannot retaliate against a person who has filed a discrimination claim (even if the discrimination claim is not proven to be true). For instance, it is against the law for an employer to fire a person because they have filed a discrimination claim against them.

What Can Limit What You Receive If You Win an Employment Discrimination Claim?

Some factors might affect the outcome of an employment discrimination claim. For instance, if it turns out that there was some other reason an employer took action, it could affect the plaintiff's damages award. For example, if it turns out that the employer fired an employee due to poor performance, and not their race, their claim may be affected. 

State laws may also place limits on the amount of damages or the type of remedies involved in such cases. These can differ from state to state. As such, it is in the employee's best interests to work with a lawyer, who can help sort out these limitations. 

Discrimination Laws and Health Insurance Plans

The Affordable Care Act (sometimes called the ACA or “Obamacare”) made significant changes to the U.S. health insurance system—and includes significant anti-discrimination provisions. Make sure you understand your rights under the ACA and other laws.

The ACA's anti-discrimination rules mirror other federal laws, like the Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination due to race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. A health insurer or medical provider also cannot use neutral policies that disparately impact members of a protected class.

Section 1557 covers a variety of health programs and activities, including:

  • Any program or institution that gets funding from HHS (including Medicare or Medicaid),
  • Any program administered by HHS, and
  • Health Insurance Marketplaces and insurers that participate in the Marketplaces.

In other words, it covers most insurance plans, medical providers, hospitals, and retail pharmacies. However, some job-based health insurance plans are “grandfathered,” and are not covered by the ACA.

Other insurance laws, rules, and regulations may also apply, including the:

  • Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA), and the
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

These laws provide additional protections and may require different complaint procedures. If you have been discriminated against, you should contact a lawyer for assistance. A health insurance lawyer can help you identify all of your causes of action and file the correct paperwork and claims.

Can Health Insurance Companies Legally Refuse to Insure a Patient?

Under federal law, you cannot be denied insurance due to:

  • A pre-existing condition or health status,
  • Race or color,
  • National origin,
  • Sex,
  • Age, or
  • Disability.

According to HHS, gender identity is also protected. In fact, transgender patients have been on the forefront of Section 1557 litigation.

A pre-existing condition is a medical condition that existed before your enrollment in a health insurance plan. Under the ACA, pre-existing conditions (including pregnancy and chronic conditions) must be immediately covered by the insurance plan.

Additionally, an insurance company cannot deny coverage, refuse essential health benefits, or cancel a policy for discriminatory reasons. Under the ACA, you have the right to appeal a denial of coverage. You may either file an internal appeal with the insurance company or an external appeal with a state or federal agency. If you need help filing an appeal, consider hiring a health insurance lawyer. A lawyer can help you file the correct appeal and build a persuasive case for coverage.

Can Health Insurance Companies Charge Patients Different Premiums or Rates?

Similarly, insurance companies cannot charge you more due to your race, national origin, gender or a pre-existing condition. However, premiums may be increased because of:

  • Age: older people may be charged three times the rates of younger policyholders,
  • Tobacco use: smokers may be charged 50% more than non-smokers,
  • Family size: Individuals may be charged less than those with dependents or families, and
  • Geography: insurance companies may factor in your community's health care costs when setting rates.

Health insurers must also justify certain rate increases. If you have questions about the legality of your insurance premiums, consider contacting an insurance benefit lawyer.

Filing a Health Insurance Discrimination Claim

If you are illegally discriminated against, you may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights. Typically, you must file your complaint within 180 days of the discriminatory act (unless you can show good cause for a late filing). You also have the right to file a lawsuit against the insurance company or other institution.

Health insurance discrimination law is still developing. The ACA was enacted in 2010, and the HHS formalized its anti-discrimination rules in 2016. The federal courts have not handled many ACA discrimination claims yet—leading to uncertainty about how the law should be applied.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

In 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA notes that discrimination based on sex includes pregnancy discrimination. Under the PDA, employers cannot discriminate against any worker or job applicant who is temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy.

Hiring and Working Conditions Required of Pregnant Women

Employers cannot refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant or because of her pregnancy-related conditions so long as she can perform the primary functions of her job. For example, suppose a pregnant woman is interviewing for a job that requires her to lift 100 pounds multiple times a day, and the pregnant woman cannot due to her pregnancy. In that case, the employer would not be found liable for pregnancy discrimination.

Additionally, employers cannot refuse to hire a woman based on prejudices against pregnant workers. Specifically, employers cannot fire a woman or require her to stop working when her pregnancy becomes apparent or refuse to hire a pregnant woman under the assumption that she would quit work once she has her child.

Common Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination

Below are the most common types of pregnant discrimination examples:

  • An employer refusing to hire a job applicant because she is pregnant
  • Firing, demoting, or refusing to promote a female employee due to her pregnancy
  • Reducing a pregnant employee's hours or assignments because she is pregnant
  • Indecent comments or conduct regarding the employee's pregnancy
  • Punishment in response to a request for pregnancy-related medical time-off

Can I Be Fired if My Pregnancy Prevents Me From Doing My Job?

No. Pregnant workers must be treated the same as employees with a temporary disability. Therefore, employers cannot terminate a pregnant woman's employment because she is unable to perform work functions associated with her job due to her pregnancy. On the contrary, employers must reasonably accommodate pregnant women and temporarily disabled workers alike.

It's essential to mention that employers may ask for further information from you. For example, suppose your employer requires other employees to submit a doctor's note concerning their inability to perform various work functions before the employer authorizes the employee to take time off. In that case, the employer may also require pregnant workers to provide a doctor's note.

Do Fathers Have Any Rights Under the Act?

Yes. Under the PDA, fathers have the right to take a leave of absence when their wife is pregnant to become her caregiver. Fathers with these caregiving duties cannot be discriminated against, as doing so infringes on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when the discrimination is based on his wife's pregnancy. Further, new fathers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Definition of a Leave of Absence

A “leave of absence” is an extended time (e.g., a few days, a week, a month) when the employee is absent from work. The employee is absent because of a personal health condition or that of a family member. Other reasons for taking a leave of absence include attending to a family death or emergency. In addition, workers may take a leave of absence when pregnant and when caring for a newborn.

Getting Fired for Taking a Leave of Absence

Employees may need time off from work because of health and family concerns. The period during which the employee is off from work is known as a leave of absence. The law may prohibit an employer from terminating an employee for taking a leave of absence.

Employer Granting a Request for Leave of Absence

Many employers provide an employee handbook to their workers when they start work.

Employee handbooks or employment agreements contain provisions addressing time off from work. These provisions include employer sick leave (paid and unpaid) policies, vacation leave, and paid time off leave. As part of its employee benefits, these provisions are crafted by the company. Employers grant you leave under the provisions of these policies.

In some instances, federal or state regulation mandates employers to grant workers leave of absence. For instance, many state regulations require employers to provide workers with a specific amount of time off for illness or injury of the employee or that of a family member. These regulations vary regarding the amount of leave that must be provided. The laws differ as to what size the employer must be to be covered by the leave. The regulations also vary as to whether the leave is paid or unpaid.

Many of these regulations provide that an employee who takes leave can return to their current job. Most of these regulations contain anti-retaliation provisions, prohibiting an employer from retaliating against (firing, demoting, or suspending) an employee who has requested or taken permitted leave.

Does the Americans With Disabilities Act Require Granting a Taking a Leave of Absence?

The federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) may preclude an employer from terminating a disabled employee for taking leave. For an employee to be protected by this law, the employee must be a “qualified individual with a disability.” The worker must be able to perform the essential (primary) functions of the job. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to these people.

A reasonable accommodation is a change in the work environment that allows a disabled employee to work better. An example is an employer providing a stool to a clerk who, because of their disability, gets tired from standing for too long but can perform their job effectively by sitting.

A leave of absence can be a reasonable accommodation if it enables workers to return to their position when leave is over. Under the ADA, an employer must give unpaid leave unless another option is better or if the leave causes the employer undue economic hardship. The ADA does not mandate employers to provide indefinite leave, which is leave with no expected return-to-work date.

What Are My Legal Rights If I Experience Pregnancy Discrimination?

If you think you have experienced pregnancy discrimination, you may wish to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You must file a charge within 180 calendar days from the alleged discrimination.

The Commission will investigate your claim, which takes approximately ten months. If the EEOC cannot determine whether the law was broken, they will send you a Notice of Right to Sue, which gives you the privilege to file suit in court. If the EEOC decides the law may have been violated, they will try to reach a voluntary settlement with the employer.

Benefits for Short-Term Disability

Depending on the circumstances of each specific situation, it is possible to obtain benefits for short-term disability. Typically, short-term disability is covered by the employer or through private insurance companies. Workers are also sometimes provided with the opportunity to buy their disability packages.

Most state and federal social security disability insurance programs cover long-term or permanent disabilities. Nevertheless, some states carry laws requiring employers to provide short-term disability options. These states include Hawaii, New Jersey, and others. Short-term disability benefits generally include paid time off and some reimbursement for lost wages.

Laws That Govern Discrimination in a School Setting

Discrimination in a school setting is prohibited by a variety of federal laws. Schools may not engage in “selective admissions”, which is the practice of denying admission to school based on a protected category such as:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • National Origin
  • Religious belief

They are also prohibited from providing preferential treatment on the basis of such categories.

The following are some examples of law that prohibit discrimination in education:

  • Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) – which prohibits public schools from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or nationality.
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – prohibits schools that receive public funding from discriminating on the basis of race or religious belief.
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 – bans discrimination on the basis of gender or sex.
  • 14th Amendment of the Constitution – prohibits denying individuals the equal protections of the law.
  • Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – prohibits discrimination based on disability.

Additionally, each state may have its own laws that provide protection against discrimination in addition to federal acts. Anti-discrimination laws also apply to employment and hiring. Violations of anti-discrimination laws are very serious and can result in severe legal consequences.

Difference between Discrimination in Public vs. Private Schools

Yes. Generally, federal anti-discrimination laws only apply to public schools or schools that receive federal funding. This means private schools are generally exempt from many federal discrimination laws.

Many private schools base admission on a theme, such as a religious belief or sex. For example, it would be ludicrous to require an all-girls Catholic school to admit a male student. If the private schools do not receive federal funding, then they might be allowed to exclude students who do not fit the school's targeted demographic.

However, private schools must sometimes still adhere to anti-discrimination laws when it comes to race and gender. Many jurisdictions are split with regards to a student's sexual orientation. Depending on where the private school is located, there may be certain exceptions to how these laws apply.

Discriminated against by a School

If you feel that a federally-funded school has discriminated against you on the basis of your race, sex, national origin, or religion, then you may be entitled to relief. Below details how you may seek relief if you have been discriminated against:

1) File a report. Generally, this report should be filed with an administrative agency, such as the U.S. Department of Education. The Department of Education has a separate branch called the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which handles discrimination claims.

When filing this report, consider making a detailed account of the incident. Be sure include key information such as:

  • Dates
  • Locations
  • Persons involved
  • Witnesses and their contact information.

The OCR will then conduct an investigation to determine whether any federal or state laws have been violated. They may prescribe a number of remedies, such as an injunction requiring the school to implement new anti-discrimination policies.

2) File a lawsuit. This will likely be the last resort.

  • Public Schools: The offended party usually must “exhaust their remedies” through an administrative agency before they can file a lawsuit. This means that a lawsuit can only be filed after an investigation by the agency has proven unsuccessful.
  • Private Schools: If the school is a private institution or does not receive federal funding, you may be able to file a lawsuit right away. However, seeking to redress your wrong outside of the courtroom may be a desirable approach.

Whether you are suing a public school or suing a private school, you will be required to prove that the school was aware of the discrimination but did nothing to prevent it. 

Lawful Discrimination

Lawful discrimination refers to treating a person unequally or unfairly based on status or characteristics unrelated to civil rights. For example, a landlord can lawfully discriminate against pet owners by refusing to rent to them.

Unintentional Discrimination

Unintentional discrimination typically occurs in business. An employer intentionally institutes policies which has a disparate impact on a protected class. A disparate impact means it adversely affect on a particular class of people by singling them out.

The intent to discriminate does not matter. In many cases, an employer can be legally liable for discriminating against a certain class of employees. 

Is Reverse Discrimination Unlawful?

Reverse discrimination is against the law. It occurs when an otherwise-unprotected class is discriminated against because of their historical privilege. This kind of privilege means they have not been discriminated against in the past, such as males or Caucasians.

How Can a Lawyer Help With Unlawful Discrimination?

Blatant discrimination is easy to recognize. More subtle discrimination is not as easy to recognize. In either situation, it is helpful to talk with an discrimination lawyer about any alleged discrimination you have faced. A lawyers can help you understand your rights, file the correct paperwork and claims, and keep you updated on legal developments.

Call our office today at 212-994-7777 or complete the convenient online contact form to set up a consultation.