Discrimination

Accused of Discrimination or Being Discriminated Against? As a Louisville Discrimination Lawyer, I Can Help

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Pursuant to federal and Kentucky’s state laws, employers may not commit discriminatory acts against protected groups. A Louisville Discrimination lawyer can assist you in better understanding what this area of law entails.

What Is Discrimination?

Discrimination is defined as taking action against someone based on a protected group to which he or she belongs as opposed to individual merit.

What Constitues Discrimination?

Generally, discriminatory acts may take the following forms:

  • Hiring or not hiring of a particular group;
  • Demotion;
  • Termination;
  • Offering raises or promotions to a particular group and not others;
  • Harassment, which is defined as any conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment or interferes with the person’s work performance;
  • Difference in compensation, which includes salary, stock options, health benefits, bonuses, and other employment benefits;
  • Offering job training to a particular group or not to another; or,
  • Offering or not offering any other terms or conditions of employment to one group and not to another

What Groups Do Anti-Discrimination Laws Protect?

There are several groups protected by both federal and Kentucky state antidiscrimination laws, some of which are explained below.

Race

Discrimination based on race includes people:

  • Of a different race;
  • Of mixed heritages; or,
  • Who is married to someone of a particular ethnic or racial background

Examples of racial discrimination include:

  • Discriminating based upon physical characteristics – hair texture or color, skin color, or facial features – associated with a particular race;
  • Making racial slurs, jokes, stereotyping, comments or questions about a person’s cultural habits, or physical acts of particular significance to a certain racial group; or,
  • Adopting neutral job policies that disproportionately affect members of a particular race; however, Louisville discrimination lawyers would argue that the employer has a legitimate business reason for the policy.

National Origin

Although closely related, national origin discrimination differs from racial discrimination.  National origin discrimination is based on a person’s:

  • Ancestry;
  • Birthplace;
  • Culture;
  • Linguist characteristics, such as accents, associated with an ethnic group; or,
  • Surnames associated with a particular ethnic group
  • English as a second language

Aside from the common forms of discrimination, national origin discrimination may also occur if policies or decisions are made based on an employee’s linguistic ability.

Language rules

An employer may be able to prohibit on-duty employees from speaking any other language other than English if it can show that there is a legitimate business reason for the policy or rule.  Such rules should be narrowly tailored.  If the employer enacts such rules, you must tell employees when they have to only speak English (e.g. when customers are present) and the consequences of breaking this rule.  An employee could challenge this rule if the scope is too broad, e.g., not permitted to speak a foreign language during breaks.

Accent rules

Employers must tread carefully when making business decisions based on one’s accent.  If the position requires the employee to have a strong command of English and be able to speak clearly then the employer may have a legitimate reasons for not hiring or promoting an employee to that position if the employee’s English is difficult to understand.  If the employer adopts a blanket rule not permitting anyone with an accent to work in customer service, then the employee would have a discrimination claim.

Sex

Sex discrimination includes discrimination based on:

  • Gender;
  • Pregnancy and related medical conditions; or,
  • Childbirth and related medical conditions.
  • Discrimination against men.

Examples of sex discrimination include:

  • Offering differences in benefits.  Often times, females are given lower pay, bonuses, incentives, or other compensation benefits for substantially equal jobs in the same company even if they provide the same quality of work (or better) as their male counterparts.
  • Not accommodating pregnant females or women who recently gave birth, including not providing the time or place to permit her to pump if she is nursing, etc.
  • Not giving a woman her performance review upon her return from maternity or medical leave if the review occurred during her absence.
  • Making remarks, comments or jokes such as, “I’m concerned she might be too emotional,” “it’s that time of month” referencing a woman’s menstrual cycle, sexual remarks, etc.
  • Giving benefits to wives of male employees but not to husbands of female employees.

Age

Discrimination based on age is limited to those who are 40 years and over. Employers may conceal the age-discriminatory acts behind legitimate business reasons, e.g., restructuring or downsizing.  Discrimination could be proven if a younger employee with less or equal experience or qualifications replaces an older employee.

What’s Next?

Not all companies are subject to federal and state antidiscrimination laws:

  • Title VII prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against employees on the basis of the employees’ race, national origin, sex, or religion.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects against age discrimination but only applies to companies with 20 or more employees.
  • The Equal Pay Act subjects all companies irrespective of size to pay men and women equally for doing equal work.
  • Kentucky is stricter than federal law, subjecting companies with eight or more employees to the state’s anti-discrimination law, which substantially mirrors federal law.

Discrimination claims may be filed in federal or state court.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulates federal workplace discrimination laws.  The Human Rights Commission enforces Kentucky’s state anti-discrimination law.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Discrimination cases can be complex, so it is always advisable to seek legal representation.

As an experienced Louisville discrimination lawyer, I have had insight into both sides of a discrimination case, representing both small businesses and their employees. Advantages of having experience from an employer’s point of view and an employee’s point of view include:

  • Ability to analyze each employment discrimination case from every angle;
  • Accessing our experience and knowledge to assess cases;
  • Anticipate the adversary’s strategies;
  • Full comprehension of both sides of a case to then develop the best strategy to fight for you.

For more information, contact me at (502) 561-3455 or by completing the form on this website.

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Patricia Abell's Law office is located in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. My office serves clients living in the Kentucky counties of Breckinridge, Bullitt, Hardin, Jefferson, Larue, Marion, Meade, Nelson, Oldham, Spencer and Washington, This includes the cities of Cloverport, Hardinsburg, Irvington, Fox Chase, Hebron Estates, Hillview, Lebanon Junction, Mount Washington, Pioneer Village, Shepherdsville, Elizabethtown, Radcliff, Sonora, Upton, Vine Grove, West Point, Anchorage, Audubon Park, Buechel, Goose Creek, Hurstbourne, Jeffersontown, Okolona, Prospect, Hodgenville, Bradfordsville, Lebanon, Loretto, Raywick, Brandenburg, Ekron, Muldraugh, Bardstown, Bloomfield, Fairfield, New Haven, Crestwood, Goshen, Lagrange, Pewee Valley, Taylorsville, Elk Creek, Mount Eden, Springfield.