Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in Texas workplaces against a number of different protected classes. These laws provide civil rights to people belonging to specific groups. Several Texas cities have also enacted ordinances that protect civil rights. These ordinances provide explicit protection to a wider variety of classes than do federal and state laws, but they do not provide a private cause of action against employers that violate civil rights or outline which remedies should be provided to a worker whose rights are violated. If your civil rights are violated in the workplace, it is important to consult an experienced employment discrimination lawyer. At Wiley Walsh, P.C., our Austin civil rights lawyers believe in providing effective legal representation to workers whose rights have been violated. We can evaluate your situation to determine whether you have a case.Federal and State Protections for Civil Rights
Federal civil rights laws that provide protections to workers include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). These laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Under Title VII, the ADEA, the ADA, and GINA, it is unlawful for your employer to discriminate against you in any aspect of employment based on your membership in a protected class. Title VII, for example, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.
Texas employers should base their decisions on merit rather than stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities or performance of individuals because they belong to a particular sex, race, age, religion, race, color, or ethnic group, or because they have a disability or have a certain genetic makeup. Similarly, Texas employers should not deny employment opportunities to someone who is perceived to be of a specific race, religion, or national origin, or because of their marriage or association with someone belonging to a protected class. A civil rights attorney at our Austin firm can help you hold an employer accountable for violating any of these protections.
Your employer is not supposed to make decisions related to hiring, firing, compensation, transfers, promotions, layoffs, job advertisements, assignments, recruitment, testing, provision of retirement plans, pay, disability leave, training and apprenticeship programs, the work environment, or the use of company facilities on the basis of your membership in one of these categories. It would be a violation of your civil rights, for example, if your employer terminated you because you were of Syrian origin. Similarly, it would be a violation of your civil rights if your employer refused to take steps to correct coworker sexual harassment in the workplace.
You are entitled to complain to HR or use other grievance procedures with regard to discrimination that you experience or witness. You can feel free to participate in investigations or oppose discriminatory practices against another employee as well. Retaliation is prohibited under anti-discrimination laws.
Unfortunately, it is a reality that an employer still may choose to retaliate against you for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. However, even if a court does not agree with your assessment of whether you were mistreated based on your membership in a protected class, it may find that you experienced retaliation for engaging in good faith in the protected activity of filing a charge. Sometimes retaliation claims are successful even when a discrimination or harassment claim failed.
Texas Labor Code Chapter 21 provides similar protections. Like Title VII, its protections for race, religion, sex, and national origin apply to employers that have at least 15 employees. It also has an anti-retaliation provision for participating in or filing a discrimination complaint.
Before pursuing a civil rights lawsuit under the laws described above, you need to file a charge with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Civil Rights Division of the Texas Workforce Commission. In many cases, it is critical to retain an experienced litigator right from the start of the process.Retain a Knowledgeable Civil Rights Lawyer in the Austin Area
If you belong to a protected class and are concerned about your civil rights in a Texas workplace, you may have options. The Austin civil rights attorneys at Wiley Walsh, P.C. represent people in Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Kyle, San Marcos, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg, among other cities. Call us at (512) 271-5527 or use our online form to set up an appointment with a hostile work environment lawyer or seek assistance with another type of employment claim.