In regards to resolving harassment or discrimination dispute at work, it is best that you exhaust all means to solve it within the company before considering filing a lawsuit.
Most of us do not really read our employment contracts and employment handbooks, but actually, your options on how to resolve employment disputes internally are there.
The employment manual usually has a section about discrimination and harassment policies in the workplace.
It may also have a section about the company's grievance system that explains the process on how you can report discrimination, harassment and other concerns in the workplace without having to worry about retaliation.
In the employment contract, you might not know it but there is usually a clause in there that says that before you pursue a lawsuit because of an employment dispute, you and the company should try to resolve the case through an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process like arbitration or mediation.
So most likely, your lawsuit will be dismissed unless it is an appeal about the result of the arbitration process.
To help you, here are some steps that you can follow in resolving a conflict before considering filing a lawsuit:
- Try to resolve the conflict with the people or group of people directly. However, do not approach when you are angry or full of emotions. You can ask a friend or colleague to come with you as support.
- If the discrimination or harassment continues or if you are unable to approach the people involved then approach your supervisor about the problem. Explain how the dispute is affecting your productivity and efficiency in the workplace.
- If the problem persists then talk to your Human Resources (HR) representative to inquire abut the company's grievance system then file a complaint.
- If no resolution is given, you may have to take actions against the employer if there is proof that he is tolerating discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
- Check your employment contract and manual to know if you have followed the company's policies in terms of resolving the conflict internally.
- If you have explored all avenues within the company and no resolution has been reached, you should make a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) for Californians.
Either of the two agencies can investigate the alleged discrimination and/or harassment in the workplace.
If they do find that there may be discrimination or harassment, either agencies or you can file a lawsuit against the company.
Consult an employment law attorney for more details.