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First steps to take if you are being discriminated against

Thousands of workplace discrimination cases occur each year. Fortunately, discrimination is against the law and there are steps you can take to hold your employer accountable and ensure that your rights are protected.

It's not easy to report discrimination, but it's likely that nothing will change if you don't take action. If you feel you are being discriminated against in the workplace, take these steps.

Remove the emotion. In order to advance a discrimination claim, it is crucial to remove the emotional elements and focus on specific issues, facts and details, according to Peggy Mastroianni of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Feelings and hunches are not adequate. For example, it's not enough to say that your manager doesn't like you. To prove you have been discriminated against, you must be able to provide concrete facts.

Make a record of the offensive actions. Keep a journal of the discriminatory behavior. According to FindLaw, your notes should include the time, date, location and the names of people who witnessed the incident. Plus, include a description of what occurred.

Consider alternatives. Author and employment consultant Jathan Janove believes many offensive workplace incidents are not deliberate or conscious discrimination. Rather, the problem is poor communication and management. He advises meeting your manager and making it clear you want to work together to help solve the problem.

Report the discrimination. If the offending behavior persists, report it to your company's management. When employers receive a discrimination complaint, they are obligated by law to investigate it in a timely manner.

Be mindful of retaliation. The EEOC says the largest percentage of its cases are retaliation against workers who have made a complaint. If you experience retaliation, add those details to your journal.

Get outside help to protect your rights. Finally, if you're being discriminated against and your employer is unresponsive or has retaliated against you, it's time to contact an attorney or the EEOC.

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