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Indianapolis Employment Law Blog

Laws prohibiting age discrimination and harassment

Many people in Indiana today find that they are not always ready to retire as early as their parents or grandparents did. There may be a myriad of reasons for this but regardless of why, a person at an older age should be able to work without fear of being discriminated against or harassed because of their age. Fortunately, there are legal protections in place designed to prevent this or to provide workers the ability to seek compensation if such things do occur.

As explained by the United States Equal Opportunity Commission, the federal government has in place a law called the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. This actually covers employees starting from the age of 40 and up. Per the provisions of the ADEA, no person should be subject to harassment because they are over 40. This includes having to endure repeated or ongoing jokes or negative comments about their age from a colleague.

Can dress codes constitute a form of discrimination?

Many Indiana corporations and businesses want their employees to maintain a professional look or a style of dress that comports with the values of the company. A dress code is generally not a problem. However, if a dress code is being unfairly applied in certain circumstances, it could constitute a type of discrimination.

As Chron.com explains, sometimes a dress code may pose problems for groups that are protected under law from discrimination. For example, your company’s dress code should not burden people who identify as religious by banning religious wear. Bans on native wear may also run afoul of the law. Basically, dress codes that seem to single out Christians, Muslims, Native Americans, Hispanics or other such groups can become a legal issue for the company.

Major companies continue to send wrong message about harassment

The #MeToo movement has greatly raised awareness of sexual harassment and assault – both in and out of the workplace. Many people without firsthand experience of sexual misconduct are surprised at just how prevalent the problem is. Why, in 2019, would this behavior still be so common?

A significant amount of the blame lies with corporate culture. Leadership and management at any company set the tone and the expectations for the rest of the organization. And in the case of Google, the company’s actions send the message that sexual harassment will be rewarded rather than punished.

Religious beliefs can put gay workers at risk

Since the #MeToo movement gained steam, many workers have stepped up to accuse their employers of workplace discrimination. Several managers that got away with harassing employees for their genders, races, sexual orientations and disabilities for years were starting to see justice for their illegal actions.

However, the process of filing a claim against an employer for discrimination isn’t completely straightforward in some industries. Schools affiliated with specific religions are still having issues when it comes to hiring people that go against their particular beliefs. A recent case in Indiana highlights the ongoing struggles that these employers have with the LGBT community.

Subtle signs of pregnancy discrimination at work

Many women work hard to balance their careers with motherhood. With supportive resources like maternity leave and workplace friendships, pregnant women in the 21st century may have little reason to expect discrimination. Nonetheless, the problem persists in many companies, even those that openly talk about creating inclusive communities.

You may be one of many working women going through pregnancy, and if you're used to having a friendly work environment, the signs of pregnancy discrimination may be harder to spot. Whether you feel uncomfortable or are almost sure you are experiencing discrimination, consider whether any of the following instances has happened to you:

Is there a way to avoid discrimination due to age?

It can be very difficult to prove you have been discriminated against  by a company in Indiana during the hiring process. This is especially true if you feel the discrimination was age-based. One of the loopholes when it comes to discrimination is that it can be difficult to prove. So, can you combat such discrimination and help increase your chances of landing a job?

According to Forbes, there is a trick you can try using that could help you overcome age discrimination. It involves focusing on what you can offer the company and providing a clear solution to a problem that company has. This will make you stand out and make it much harder for the hiring manager to pass you up.

Examples of workplace retaliation

As someone who works in Indiana, you have certain rights, and one of them involves your right to “blow the whistle” if your employer is engaging in illegal or unethical acts. Your employer may not retaliate against you for your decision to call attention to the wrongdoing, meaning he or she cannot treat you unfairly or differently than others in your place of business to “punish” you for speaking out. At the Employment Law Office of John H. Haskin & Associates, LLC, we have a strong understanding of what types of behaviors constitute workplace retaliation, and we have helped many victims of it seek recourse.

Retaliation in the workplace, per the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, can manifest in many ways, and it does not always look the same. In some instances, it might be overt, such as you getting fired or demoted shortly after you make the decision to blow the whistle on your employer. Your employer may also transfer you to a less-desirable position than you previously held, or intentionally make your work more difficult for you by changing your hours, giving you less-desirable shifts and so on.

What does reasonable accommodation mean?

Federal and state law entitles disabled employees to protection from employment discrimination. Discrimination can come in various forms, including refusal to hire or promote, harassment and unequal pay.

Disabled workers may also face discrimination in the form of refusing to make reasonable accommodations, as mandated by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

When is an employment contract necessary?

When getting a new job in Indiana, you may be asked to sign an employment contract. However, this is not always common practice. Many industries do not routinely use contracts for employment, but there are some specific jobs or situations where an employment contract is necessary.

According to The Balance, an employment contract is usually used for high-level management positions or when hiring a professional. These situations typically call for using some type of binding agreement because such employees may be more difficult to replace than your typical employee if they were to quit. These documents will usually say you cannot quit for a specific amount of time and often have penalties if you do.

What constitutes religious harassment?

Harassment in the workplace is something you have the right to be protected against. You should never be made to feel uncomfortable because of your religious affiliation when at work in Indiana. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, religious harassment is when someone causes your work environment to be difficult because of his or her issues with your religious choices. It is a complex situation because harassment is more than just a single incident.

The basis of proving harassment is that it must be an ongoing activity. It cannot be a one-time issue. For example, if someone makes a negative comment about your religion only one time and never again brings it up, then it is not classified as harassment. This classification requires a hostile workplace where you are repeatedly being pursued by others. It can also include effects on your work status, such as you being fired due to your religion or due to other employees not being comfortable with your religion.

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