Your employer has discriminated against you, and you are ready to take legal action. Where do you begin?
Depending on where you work, the process may begin with a complaint to your HR department. Many larger companies require this, and sometimes, HR can resolve the discrimination problem. But often, they cannot. Your employer might not take your claim seriously or try to sweep it under the rug. It might even punish you for speaking up, such as by firing or demoting you. This is an illegal act known as retaliation under Pennsylvania and federal law.
Once your attempt to get your discrimination claim solved in-house has failed, your next step is to contact the appropriate government agency. In the Harrisburg-Carlisle area, you have two options: the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies work together on employment discrimination claims, so you do not need to file a claim with both. One key difference is that the PHRC covers people who work for small businesses with four to 14 employees, though you can also file with them if you work for a larger company.
Do I need an attorney?
There are other considerations when deciding which agency you want to file with. Before you proceed, consider speaking with an employment law attorney. They can advise you which set of laws — state or federal — best fit your case and guide you through the process of filing a claim. While you do not have to be represented by a lawyer, working with one can make the process faster and easier, and lead to greater compensation.