Indianapolis Employment Law Blog

Recognizing and fighting age discrimination in the workplace

Members of the workforce over a certain age may experience discrimination based on their age because of an employer’s misunderstanding or blatant ignorance of state and federal law. Far too frequently employers mistreat older workers, typically those over age 40, in an unlawful manner as a means to appease their bottom line.

If you’re an employee in Indiana and suspect age-based discrimination in the workplace, understand that you have options for recourse. To make an adequate and reasonable age discrimination complaint, it’s important to know some of the common types and indicators of this type of employee mistreatment.

How to deal with discrimination as an employee

As an employee, you hope that workplace discrimination never comes into play. However, if it does, sitting back and hoping that everything works out is not the best approach.

There are many ways to deal with discrimination as an employee, with these tips critical to your long-term well-being:

  • Tell your employer: Make it clear to your employer that you are the victim of discrimination. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page as to what happened and the resolution you expect.
  • Keep evidence: Maybe you have a photo associated with the act of discrimination. Or maybe you have an email that proves what went wrong. Regardless of the type of evidence, collect it for future use.
  • Review your employee handbook: This is where you will find your company's anti-discrimination policy. It should give you a clear idea of the steps to take.
  • Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): If you don't get satisfaction from your employer, this is the best way to take things to the next level.

Were you wrongfully discharged? Focus on these details

The thought of losing your job is enough to make your stomach turn. You know this would change your life in many ways, including the impact on your finances.

While there are times when people are laid off for valid reasons, such as when a company is downsizing, this is not always the case.

Take action as the victim of workplace sexual harassment

Even with a variety of federal and state laws in place, workplace sexual harassment remains a major problem throughout the country.

If you're the victim of workplace sexual harassment, you shouldn't wait to take action. This includes the following:

  • Speak your mind. This means one thing: letting the harasser know that you want them to stop at once. If you don't speak up, the person may begin to believe their behavior is acceptable.
  • Read your employee handbook. It's here that you will find information on workplace sexual harassment, including the steps your employer wants you to take to report the behavior. Follow the guidelines down to every last detail.
  • Keep records. You should take detailed notes regarding the instances of harassment, ranging from the time to the location to exactly what happened. If there is any sort of evidence, such as an email or photo, be sure to hold onto that as well.
  • Report it to your employer. This goes along with reading your employee handbook. Report the harassment to your employer, ask them what comes next and follow up as necessary.
  • Take legal action. If you're unable to work out a resolution through your employer, consider what you can do next. You may be able to seek remedies such as back pay, reinstatement if you lost your job and damages for emotional distress.

Can workers be fired for reporting sexual harassment?

Workers here in Indiana may have many fears when they have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. This includes a fear that they could lose their job if they report the conduct to their employer.

It is important for workers to know that federal law provides workers with protections on this front. This is due to federal anti-retaliation laws. These laws apply to a great many employers here in the United States. They prohibit employers from firing, or committing other retaliatory actions against, an employee for engaging in protected activities.

Amazon faces scrutiny after injured workers fired or denied care

Several Amazon employees are accusing the retail giant of wrongful termination, denying workers’ compensation claims and placing them back in unsafe working conditions. The company now has over 140 fulfillment centers in the U.S., and the founder, Jeff Bezos, is the wealthiest person in history. According to The Guardian, his net worth is now over $150 billion.

Can I sue my employer if I signed an arbitration agreement?

Employment law violations are rarely straightforward. For instance, as an "exempt" employee at your company ineligible for overtime pay, what are your rights? What if you don't want to work that much overtime? Why is your boss making you take paid time off if you leave a few hours early when you don't get credit for staying late? Regardless of what you signed when you were hired, you can sue your employer for discrimination, right? 

When you get fired for doing the right thing

Claudia Ponce de Leon wanted to do the right thing. When she saw something that wasn't ethical-three bankers under her supervision were opening fake bank accounts to meet sales goals-she called the bank's ethics hotline. What happened next is enough to get almost anyone angry.

Three weeks after her report, Ponce de Leon was terminated from her position. Feeling she was wrongfully terminated, she brought her complaint to the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The bank defended their action stating she had a documented history of excessive drinking and other inappropriate behavior. Ponce de Leon denied this.

Pay may not factor into overtime eligibility

Indiana workers and others that are considered highly paid for practical purposes may be entitled to overtime pay, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). A 6th Circuit court ruling found that the legal meaning of the phrase "highly compensated employees" should be considered regardless of how much a person makes. The case was brought by two welding inspectors that worked for a Houston-based construction contractor.

The welders first brought their FLSA putative class action suit before a U.S. District Court in Columbus. Before that court hearing, the company claimed that the employees were 'in a bona fide executive, administrative or professional capacity." Therefore, they should be exempt from the FLSA provision. A summary judgment was granted, dismissing the case. By making its ruling, the 6th Circuit put itself at odds with the 9th Circuit that had just considered an overtime case regarding mortgage underwriters.

Legality of cryptocurrencies as compensation

The use of cryptocurrencies has become increasingly common in Indiana as stories of their increasing values have made headlines. Employers may be tempted to attract employees to their companies with offers of compensation with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. However, under U.S. federal law, this practice could be considered a wage and hour violation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) governs an employer's right to compensate employers with currencies other than U.S. currency. It allows employers to compensate employees with foreign currencies as long as certain requirements are met when the currency is converted to U.S. dollars, such as compliance with minimum wage standards. Courts have not addressed the issue of whether compensation with cryptocurrencies complies with the FLSA.

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