Most people have several options of how to handle workplace discrimination.
You are the only person who can decide which option is the right one
1. Confront the person who is discriminating against you. Sometimes
this works in cases of sexual harassment. Confronting the harasser and
clearly telling him/her that the behavior is unwanted will sometimes
stop the harassment. For example, "I do not want to hear any more
of your dirty jokes. That is harassment." Or, "I have told
you that I am not interested in dating you. If you ask me again, I will
report you for harassment."
You probably know the person well enough to know if this will work.
Sometimes, you may feel that it will only make things worse. You have
to decide if you want to take this step. The law does not require you
to confront your harasser.
2. File a grievance with your union. Sometimes this type of behavior
is covered by union contract. Check with your union to determine if
they will file a grievance on your behalf.
However, you should also consider how the union has reacted to these
issues in the past. Did they support the person, most likely a woman,
filing the grievance? Or, did they support the accused person. All too
often, women officers find that the union takes the side of the harasser,
most likely a man.
3. Read the Sexual Harassment Policy in your manual. What options does
it list? Usually, there is a person designated to receive complaints
of sexual harassment or gender discrimination.
4. Report the behavior to your supervisor. If it is your supervisor
who is harassing or discriminating against you, go to the next level
in the chain of command to report it.
5. Report the behavior to the personnel or human resources person within
your agency. They may be more equipped to deal with these situations.
6. Report the behavior to Internal Affairs. Unfortunately, sometimes
the Internal Affairs investigators are not trained in how to investigate
these types of offenses.
7. Go to your city, county or state human resources or personnel office
and report the misconduct.
8. Contact a higher-ranking woman in your organization and tell her
about the situation.
9. File a complaint with the State Department of Labor and with the
Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Filing a complaint
in either of these places begins a formal process. First, your agency
will be notified and asked to respond to the complaint. Then, depending
upon the response, an investigation will be conducted by the state or
federal investigators. If your allegations are substantiated by the
investigation, your agency will be given an opportunity to mediate the
issues. If mediation fails, the state or federal agency may sue them.
You also may obtain a Right to Sue letter from the state or federal
agency and file a lawsuit on your own.
10. Contact an attorney who specializes in Employment Discrimination.
You can find attorneys by checking:
a. The yellow pages of your telephone directory
b. Your state or county Bar Association
c. The National Employment Lawyer's Association at www.nela.org
Most attorneys will talk to you about your case at no charge or a very
small charge to determine if they want to represent you. Many attorneys
will agree to a contingent fee arrangement on employment cases. This
means that they will receive a percentage of the final award you obtain.
This is unusually about 35% if the case is settled before court and
40% if the case is won in court. If they lose, you are not required
to pay them anything. Sometimes you are required to pay the costs up
front, such as deposition transcription fees and court filing fees.
Costs can be extensive, so be sure to get an estimate.
Title VII prohibits retaliation against an employee for filing a complaint
of sexual harassment or gender discrimination or for complaining of
sexual harassment or gender discrimination. However, you should realize
you may be subjected to retaliation if you speak up. We are not trying
to discourage you from complaining about discrimination; in fact, we
wish more women would complain. However, we want you to be fully aware
of the repercussions you may face. In law enforcement, the retaliation
often takes one of the following forms: