I think I have a discrimination claim. What should I do next?

Realizing you have been discriminated against at work can be distressing, but there are several steps you can take if you believe you have a discrimination claim.

Do you have a disability, and do you notice that non-disabled people always seem to get promoted even though you have been with your company longer and receive similar or better performance reviews? Are you Hispanic, and your non-Hispanic coworkers are always invited to crucial meetings, but you are not? Was part of your sales territory given away after you told your boss about your pregnancy?

While some forms of discrimination are easy to spot, identifying what is illegal (as opposed to unfair) can be tricky. For more information, read Are You Being Discriminated Against at Work?


If have been experiencing issues at work, such as discrimination, wrongful suspension, or wrongful termination, contact us for a free consultation with our legal team.


Don’t overreact.

Sometimes, once you realize that your employer might be acting discriminatorily toward you, it can be tempting to lash out and accuse your boss of treating you unfairly. Even if you are positive your employer is engaging in illegal and/or discriminatory behavior, threatening to get a lawyer and sue is unlikely to end favorably for you. Speak to a lawyer before making any rash decisions or threatening to sue your boss.

Request specific and objective guidance about performance improvements your supervisor wants to see.

When others are promoted above you, asked to perform work duties that offer opportunities for expansion, or receive raises, ask for specific, written feedback from your manager regarding what you can do to improve. Make sure you are doing your job to the best of your ability before assuming that discrimination is to blame.

Don’t complain about your company, boss, or coworkers on social media.

It can be tempting to vent to your friends through social media about the discrimination you’re potentially experiencing, but anything you post about your employer on social media (even if your profile is private) may be considered disparaging the company and could potentially give your employer a reason to terminate you. Vent to a trusted friend or family member, but keep your thoughts off the Internet.

Start recording the discrimination in a notebook and keep it at home.

When you notice you may be experiencing discrimination at work, record past incidents and start keeping track of current ones. Be sure to record the date, time, and location of the incidents as well as the full names of those involved. Don’t forget to keep the list at home, because using company property or time to record this information may give your employer a reason to terminate you.

Identify the people who are being treated more fairly than you, and keep track of how management’s treatment toward you differs.

It’s not just important to note the names of the people responsible for the discrimination (such as your supervisors or managers) but the people who are receiving more favorable treatment than you. Identifying the major players who are receiving preferential treatment is important, because it can help a lawyer identify if you have a discrimination claim.

Report the discriminatory behavior to management, supervisors, and HR.

In addition to keeping a personal record of discrimination, it’s important to report this treatment to others at your company who are in a supervisory position. If your employer has policies for reporting mistreatment, be sure to follow them. Remember, it is possible that once you bring this conversation to HR or management’s attention, they may want to address and fix the root causes. Alternatively, your company may react poorly to your reports; be on the lookout for retaliation such as surprising pay cuts, scheduling changes, baseless suspensions, or termination. If you think you are going to be terminated, read about what to do here.

Follow up on verbal conversations via email.

It is always a good idea to have a written record of conversations, especially if you are in a position with a supervisor who makes promises they never keep, or an HR department that keeps verbally promising to address problems that you report, but never follows through. Sending a quick email, even with only a sentence or two, will help you keep track of when discussions take place and create a written record of your attempts to correct problems.

Talk to an attorney – especially before reporting to a state or federal agency.

If you have any questions about whether you are experiencing discrimination at work and what your options might be, call Jackson Spencer Law for a free consultation at 1-800-269-1959 or fill out an online inquiry here. Our experienced legal team can help determine the best recourse for you, including helping you decide if filing with a state or federal agency would be a good decision.