Florida Injury and Employment Attorneys

What is Legally Considered Discrimination?

January 19, 2016

scales book Tampa Work Discrimination AttorneyIf you have experienced workplace discrimination, you may require the assistance of a Tampa work discrimination attorney. If you believe that you have been subjected to employment discrimination, there are steps you can take to become knowledgeable of your rights. An experienced attorney will be able to help guide you through the legal process of receiving compensation after being the victim of unlawful workplace discrimination. This article will discuss the various factors you should consider when deciding to hire an employment discrimination attorney.

In the event that your employer fires you for discriminatory reasons, you may become understandably hurt and angry at these unlawful actions. Too often, people do not realize that consulting a Tampa work discrimination attorney is often the best place to start the litigation process. An employment lawyer can help you determine if you have a valid claim and give you a sense of direction when it comes to taking action against your employer.

Illegal Discrimination

Discrimination and unfair treatment are not necessarily the same thing. Discrimination is unfair treatment that occurs against a member of a protected group by federal or state anti-discrimination laws as a direct result of the employee’s membership in that group. For example, you would be a member of a protected class in a discrimination case if you are a pregnant woman whose employer was aware of your pregnancy at the time you were fired.  Additionally, disability discrimination laws have a long list of protected disabilities that employers are not allowed to use as a basis for termination or other unlawful treatment. Being part of a protected group is not enough to guarantee a successful discrimination lawsuit. You should also be able to prove that your employer acted negatively against you specifically because you are a member of a protected group. This type of action may include termination, negative performance reviews that prevent promotion, assigning fewer shifts to reduce your commission or wages, and other unlawful acts that influence your ability to perform and excel in the workplace. If you are in a protected category and had an adverse action taken against you, you may have a viable legal claim, but a win is not guaranteed. You must also prove that your employer actually intended to take the action against you because of your protected status, rather than another reason. This means that if you are a member of a protected group and were fired for a valid reason, it is unlikely that you will have a meritorious legal claim. On the other hand, if you are a member of a protected group and were fired because of your membership in that group, you may have a strong discrimination claim.

Gathering Supporting Evidence

Proving that your employer took an adverse action against you specifically because you are a member of a protected group is often difficult.  Very few discriminating employers will openly admit discrimination as the basis of such adverse actions. Instead, it is our job to gather the evidence to convince a judge or jury that your employer was actively working against you because of your protected status. An example of this may occur if you have always had positive or neutral performance reviews, but received a highly negative review after your employer learned of your religious affiliation. The evidence gathering process is one of the most crucial components of any employment discrimination lawsuit. Your lawyer may choose to request documents that could be direct or circumstantial evidence of discrimination in the workplace, as well as call witnesses in for depositions. These actions occur during the discovery phase of the lawsuit. Obtaining witness testimony, documentation and other important pieces of evidence often means the difference between winning and losing a case.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

An employment lawyer may be able to draw on years of legal experience to help you perform a cost-benefit analysis that will weigh the likelihood and benefits of winning your case against the potential drawbacks. A lawyer can help you assess the weaknesses of your case, the expense of going to trial, and how much you can realistically expect to recover if you are successful.  This analysis will prove helpful in the event that the employer makes offers in an attempt to settle your case.

Assessing the Options

Upon your first meeting with your discrimination lawyer, you should receive a list of options when it comes to responding to your employment situation. From filing a charge of discrimination with a state or federal agency to settling with your employer and a full-blown lawsuit, there are many option available. Each option comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks that vary with each case.

Attorneys’ Fees and Costs

Before you begin working with an employment discrimination lawyer, you should inquire about the fees and costs associated with services. Fees differ depending on the attorney’s experience as well as the type of action you take against your employer. Drafting a letter requesting a settlement generally costs much less than full representation through trial. Attorneys often have structured pricing options, featuring a one-time retainer as well as a contingency fee or hourly rate. Your attorney should explain all costs you can expect to incur over the course of your case. Lawsuits are often expensive, so your attorney may advise you to consider settling out of court instead. Costs are most often based on filing fees, photocopy charges, deposition fees, expert witness rates and mediation fees. Your attorney should discuss all relevant fees upfront so you have a realistic idea of what to expect.

Closure

Working with an employment discrimination attorney can help you gain closure after a negative or traumatic discrimination experience. It is difficult to move past the feeling of powerlessness that can come with being discriminated against by an employer for your status as a member of a protected group. Trial is often a vindicating experience for those who have been unlawfully discriminated against as they can help resolve the ugly experience the victim of discrimination had with an employer. At the same time, many discrimination victims find it beneficial to resolve their cases before trial and put the negative experience behind them.

Contact a Tampa Work Discrimination Attorney

Contact Florin Gray Bouzas Owens, LLC today at (727) 254-5255 for more information on how you can work with a Tampa work discrimination attorney you can trust.

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