Every worker in Arizona has a right to be free from unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace. This includes being discriminated against on the basis of one’s age, ethnicity, race, religion, and/or national origin (amongst other characteristics). Employees who feel they have been the target of discriminatory actions in violation of state or federal law may have the ability to bring a lawsuit against their employers and seek certain remedies permitted by law.
What Employers are Subject to Antidiscrimination Laws?
Employers with a minimum of 15 or more employees are subject to most of the federal antidiscrimination laws. Federal laws prohibiting age discrimination in the workplace apply to those employees with 20 or more employees. All employers of any size must pay men and women equally when they perform the same work.
All employers with 15 or more employees are subject to Arizona’s statutes against discrimination.
What Discrimination is Prohibited?
Discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), disability, age, citizenship status and/or genetic information is prohibited by federal law. In addition to these bases, Arizona prohibits discrimination on the basis of AIDS/HIV diagnosis.
Discrimination can take many forms but is generally identified as disparate treatment between one employee and another on the basis of a protected category listed above. Discrimination, therefore, can include:
- Refusing to hire a person because of his or her race;
- Firing a female worker because she is pregnant;
- Promoting a younger employee as opposed to an older employee;
- Giving more favorable opportunities to employees of a certain religion.
How Do I File a Discrimination Lawsuit?
Typically, the employment discrimination lawsuit process begins by filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the Arizona Attorney General (depending on which laws – state and/or federal – you claim have been violated) within a specified amount of time after the discrimination has occurred. The EEOC and/or the Arizona Attorney General’s Office will investigate the claim and, if either believes there is sufficient evidence suggesting discrimination may have occurred, they will usually give the employer an opportunity to correct the discriminatory environment.
If the EEOC and/or the Arizona Attorney General’s Office do not believe there is evidence of discrimination, or if they are unable to correct the discriminatory environment informally, these groups will send the victim a notice indicating that the victim is free to file a private lawsuit against the employer. The victim will then generally have 90 days within which to file an employment discrimination lawsuit against the employer.
A victim of discrimination must (in nearly every circumstance) wait to receive the notice indicating he or she is free to sue the employer before he or she can file a private lawsuit
What Remedies are Available in a Private Employment Discrimination Lawsuit?
Employees who have been discriminated against can recover remedies that may include monetary damages or specific performance, depending on the nature of the discrimination and how they were harmed. If the victim was wrongly terminated, he or she may be entitled to reinstatement of his or her job and back pay. If the victim was denied a promotion, the employer may be ordered to award the employee the promotion effective the date the promotion should have been made. If a disabled employee is successful in a disability discrimination lawsuit, the employer may be ordered to make certain reasonable accommodations to allow the employee to perform his or her job functions. If the employer acted with a degree of malice, or if the employer has repeatedly been the subject of discrimination suits, other remedies may be available to the victim. For more information concerning discrimination lawsuits in Arizona contact the experienced attorneys at My AZ Legal Team, PLLC.