Frequently Asked Questions

Sexual Harassment

It is illegal to harass an employee because of that person’s sex. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), this unlawful sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Mere teasing or isolated comments/incidents that are relatively minor do not rise to the level of illegal sexual harassment. Harassment becomes unlawful when the conduct and/or statements become so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment or results in an adverse employment action (for example, firing, demoting, or suspending the victim).

Talk with a sexual harassment lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online.

A supervisor is an employee whom the employer has empowered to take tangible employment actions against the victim; that is, to make a significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.

However, sexual harassment does not have to come only from a supervisor, it can also come from a co-worker or another manager who does not supervise you.

Talk with a sexual harassment lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online

hostile work environment is another form of sexual harassment.  A hostile work environment is one filled with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.

Talk with a sexual harassment lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online

To prove a hostile work environment claim, an employee must prove that the underlying acts were severe or pervasive.  To determine if the environment is hostile, the courts consider the totality of the circumstances, including the conduct’s severity.  Severe harassment includes physical touching, implicit physical coercion, extreme language, or obscene behavior. 

The harassment must be both unwelcome and offensive to you, as well as being objectively offensive (meaning that a reasonable person would find the harassment hostile and abusive). 

To determine whether harassment violates Title VII and other laws, courts consider the following factors:

  • the frequency of the discriminatory conduct;
  • its severity;
  • whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and
  • whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.

Talk with a sexual harassment lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online

It matters whether the harassment you suffered was perpetrated by a supervisor versus a coworker. T the employer may automatically be liable if a supervisor’s harassment of an employee causes an adverse action such as termination, lost wages, or a suspension.

If a supervisor creates a hostile work environment for an employee (with no adverse action like being fired), then the employer can prevail only if it can prove:

  • it reasonably tried to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior; and
  • the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities offered by the employer, such as reporting the harassment to the employer.

If a non-supervisory employee harasses another employee, then the employer will be liable for the harassment if the employer knew, or should have known, about the hostile work environment and failed to promptly correct it.

Talk with a sexual harassment lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online

Several different types of remedies are available under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act if you prevail in your sexual harassment claim, including:

  • Back pay – the lost pay and benefits you would have received absent the adverse personnel action (e.g., salary from the date of a termination or demotion until the date of the trial);
  • Compensatory damages – damages to compensate emotional distress and reputational harm that you suffered because of the sexual harassment;
  • Punitive damages – damages to punish the company if it acted with malice or reckless indifference;
  • Lost future earnings;
  • Equitable relief, such as an order reinstating you; and/or
  • Attorney’s fee and litigation expenses

Importantly, different federal, state and local laws may apply to your case and may allow different types and amounts of damages (Title VII, for example, has a cap on the amount of compensatory and punitive damages you can recover).

Talk with a sexual harassment lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online

The employer is automatically liable and has no defense if a supervisor’s harassment of an employee causes an adverse action such as termination, lost wages, or a suspension.

However, an employer does have a defense (known as a Faragher/Ellerth defense) if a supervisor creates a hostile work environment for an employee (but no adverse action is taken against the employee, like being fired).  Under this scenario, the employer may prevail if it proves:

  • it reasonably tried to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior; and
  • the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities offered by the employer

Finally, if the situation involves a co-worker (non-supervisory employee) harassing another employee, then the employer will be liable for the harassment if the employer knew, or should have known, about the hostile work environment and failed to promptly correct it.

Talk with a sexual harassment lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online

Title VII requires plaintiffs to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the alleged act of retaliation.  42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1).  The limitations period expands to 300 days where the plaintiff has filed a charge with a state or local agency that is authorized to grant or seek relief from the challenged practice.

Federal employees seeking to remedy discrimination, harassment, or retaliation must contact an EEO counselor to initiate a complaint 45 days from the day the discrimination occurred.

Talk with a sexual harassment lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online

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Age Discrimination

Age discrimination is one of the most common forms of illegal employment discrimination. A key federal law, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees who are 40 years and older. Likewise, many states and local municipalities have laws that make age discrimination unlawful as well. It is important to consult with an experienced age discrimination lawyer to understand your legal options.

To prove that you have been illegally discriminated against in hiring and promotions due to your age, an employee must show that:
 
  • they belong to a protected class (over 40 years old)
  • they applied for and were qualified for a job for which the employer was seeking applicants
  • despite their qualifications they were rejected
  • the position remained open after their rejection and the employer continued to seek applicants similar to their qualifications.

The employer must then show a legitimate reason for the taking the employment action. In response, an employee can show by preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate reasons offered by the employer were not its true reason, but were a pretext for discrimination.

Approximately 1 in 5 discrimination charges received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are age discrimination claims, and in 2020 the EEOC received over 14,000 age discrimination charges.

  • they belong to a protected class (over 40 years old)
  • they applied for and were qualified for a job for which the employer was seeking applicants
  • despite their qualifications they were rejected
  • the position remained open after their rejection and the employer continued to seek applicants similar to their qualifications.

For an age discrimination case, an employee needs to file a charge of discrimination within 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place. The 180 calendar day filing deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis.

NOTE: For age discrimination, the filing deadline is only extended to 300 days if there is a state law prohibiting age discrimination in employment and a state agency or authority enforcing that law. The deadline is not extended if only a local law prohibits age discrimination.

NOTE II: federal employees and applicants have a different complaint process, and generally must contact an agency EEO Counselor within 45 days of the discriminatory act. 

Talk with an age discrimination lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online

In employment litigation, some of the most important evidence is centered on the question of whether the employer had a legitimate reason to terminate your employment or whether the reason was simply a pretext for unlawful discrimination. A federal appellate court recently tackled this issue and fleshed out how an employee can prove that the employer’s purported reasons were just a mask for illegal behavior. Consult with an age discrimination lawyer to find out more.

The ADEA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-34, prohibits an employer from discharging or otherwise “[discriminating] against any individual… because of such individual’s age.” 29 U.S.C. § 623(a). To win, a plaintiff “must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (which may be direct or circumstantial), that age was the ‘but-for’ cause of the challenged employer decision.” Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs., Inc., 557 U.S. 167, 177-178 (2009). Circumstantial evidence, as opposed to direct evidence of discrimination (which is less frequently available to plaintiffs), is analyzed under a three-part test created by the Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). 

The facts and circumstances of each case determine whether a particular action rises to the level of an adverse employment action. Some common examples include termination of employment; demotion; pay reduction; or suspension. An experienced age discrimination lawyer can help assess your claim.

Depending on the context, the EEOC has found that the following examples may also constitute an adverse employment action: 

  • work-related threats, warnings, or reprimands;
  • negative or lowered evaluations;
  • transfers to less prestigious or desirable work or work locations;
  • making false reports to government authorities or in the media;
  • filing a civil action;
  • threatening reassignment; scrutinizing work or attendance more closely than that of other employees, without justification;
  • removing supervisory responsibilities;
  • engaging in abusive verbal or physical behavior that is reasonably likely to deter protected activity, even if it is not yet “severe or pervasive” as required for a hostile work environment; or
  • taking (or threatening to take) a materially adverse action against a close family member (who would then also have a retaliation claim, even if not an employee).

Talk with an age discrimination lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online.

Corporate Whistleblower Retaliation

Corporate whistleblowers are one of the most important and effective checks on fraud against the government and/or shareholders. Yet a whistleblower is often met with hostility and retaliation from within the company.

In response, Congress has enacted a number of laws designed to protect employees who blow the whistle on corporate fraud.

One of the key statutes is the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX).  Under SOX, employees who work for publicly traded companies or companies that are required to file certain reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are protected from being fired or otherwise retaliated against if they report conduct that they reasonably believe constitutes mail, wire, bank, or securities fraud, a violation of any SEC rule or regulation, or a violation of any provision of federal law relating to fraud against shareholders.

Other laws protecting corporate whistleblowers include the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank). Under Dodd-Frank, a whistleblower has a private right of action that allows them to file a retaliation complaint in federal court. 

Talk with a corporate whistleblower lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online.

Under SOX, a whistleblower can receive the following remedies if they experience retaliation:

  1. reinstatement with the same seniority status that the employee would have had, but for the retaliation;
  2. back pay, with interest; and
  3. compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the retaliation, including emotional distress, litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney fees.

Notably, the emotional distress damages available under SOX are uncapped (unlike some other anti-retaliation laws).

The remedies available under Dodd-Frank include double back pay (with interest), reinstatement, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and reimbursement for certain costs in connection with the litigation. 

Talk with a corporate whistleblower lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online

Section 806 of SOX covers companies that have a class of securities registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act or are required to file reports under Section 15(d) of that Act. The company’s subsidiaries, contractors, subcontractors, or agents may also be covered.

Talk with a corporate whistleblower lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online

To establish a retaliation claim, a whistleblower must show:

  • they engaged in protected activity
  • the employer knew they engaged in the protected activity
  • they suffered an adverse employment action
  • the protected activity was a “contributing factor” in the adverse employment action

A contributing factor is a factor which, alone or with other factors, in any way affects the outcome of a decision.

Contributing factor causation can be established by, for example:

  • Close timing (temporal proximity) between the protected activity and the adverse action.
  • Evidence of hostility towards the protected activity.
  • Disparate treatment of whistleblower compared to other employees following protected activity.
  • Changes in employer’s treatment of whistleblower after the protected activity.
  • Indicators that employer’s stated reasons for the adverse action are pretext.

If the whistleblower makes this showing by a preponderance of the evidence, then the employer must prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that it would have taken the same adverse employment action even if the employee had not engaged in protected activity. 

Talk with a corporate whistleblower lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online

An employee must file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within 180 days after a violation of SOX (0r 180 days after after the employee became aware of the violation). An employee who believes that they have been retaliated against in violation of SOX may file a complaint with OSHA.

After it receives the complaint, OSHA will first review it to determine whether it is a valid complaint allegation (e.g., timeliness or jurisdiction). All complaints are investigated as directed by the statutory requirements – see 29 CFR Part 1980.104.

Yes. After OSHA issues its findings, either party may request a hearing before a Department of Labor administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ’s decision and order may be appealed to the Department’s Administrative Review Board. If a final agency order is not issued within 180 days from the date the employee’s complaint is filed, then the employee may file the complaint in the appropriate United States district court.

top whistleblower lawyer; SOX lawyer; Bachman Law
Race discrimination thumb

Race Discrimination

A number of different laws prohibit race discrimination in employment but two of the key statutes are Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. 1981. Talk with an experienced race discrimination employment lawyer today to learn more about your legal options.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

The U.S. Department of Justice provides the following helpful summary of Title VII:

Title VII makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity) or religion. The Act also makes it unlawful to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Title VII prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also practices that have the effect of discriminating against individuals because of their race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.

42 U.S.C. 1981 (Section 1981)

Originally included as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Section 1981(a) states in relevant part:

All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other

On a broader level, both statutes outlaw employment discrimination based on race. But key differences exist between these two related laws that can make or break your case.  These differences played a vital role in a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit employment discrimination and retaliation case that Eric Bachman previously argued and won.

To establish a prima facie case of race discrimination based on intentional discrimination an employee must show that they:

  1. are a member of a protected class,
  2. suffered an adverse employment action,
  3. met their employer’s legitimate expectations at the time of the adverse employment action, and
  4. were treated differently from similarly situated employees outside their protected class. 

If these elements are met then the employer must articulate a non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. If an employer does so, then the employee has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the employer’s articulated reason is a mere pretext/ excuse for discrimination.

It is important to consult with an experienced race discrimination employment lawyer to understand your legal options.

  • Back pay damages for wages lost due to the harassment
  • Emotional distress damages (also referred to as compensatory damages)
  • Punitive damages designed to punish the employer for especially reckless or malicious harassment
  • Reasonable attorney’s fees

If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online.

Gender Discrimination

A variety of federal anti-discrimination laws apply in a sex/gender discrimination case. These laws include Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Similarly, a host of state and local laws also prohibit sex/gender discrimination in employment. Talk with an experienced gender discrimination lawyer to explore your legal options.

To establish a prima facie case of gender discrimination based on intentional discrimination an employee must show that they:

  1. are a member of a protected class,
  2. suffered an adverse employment action,
  3. met their employer’s legitimate expectations at the time of the adverse employment action, and
  4. were treated differently from similarly situated employees outside their protected class.

If these elements are met then the employer must articulate a non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. If an employer does so, then the employee has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the employer’s articulated reason is a mere pretext/ excuse for discrimination.

It is important to consult with an experienced gender discrimination lawyer to understand your legal options.

  • Back pay damages for wages lost due to the harassment
  • Emotional distress damages (also referred to as compensatory damages)
  • Punitive damages designed to punish the employer for especially reckless or malicious harassment
  • Reasonable attorney’s fees

Consult with a gender discrimination lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online.

LGBTQ+ Discrimination

Yes. The Supreme Court issued a major victory for LGBTQ+ employees in 2020 that has been reverberating in companies across the country: Title VII of the 1964 Civil Right Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against LGBTQ+ workers. Talk with an experienced LGBTQ+ employment lawyer to find out your legal options.

The case is Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and in a 6-3 ruling delivered during Pride Month, the Supreme Court held that an employer may not discriminate against any individual because of their sex and that “the straightforward application of Title VII’s terms” means that “sex” includes different treatment based on one’s homosexuality or transgender status.

The decision is historic for a number of reasons, including that it provides nation-wide protection for LGBTQ+ employees, rather than the patchwork of state and local laws that prohibit LGBTQ+ discrimination.

To establish a prima facie case of LGBTQ+ discrimination based on intentional discrimination an employee must show that they:

  1. are a member of a protected class,
  2. suffered an adverse employment action,
  3. met their employer’s legitimate expectations at the time of the adverse employment action, and
  4. were treated differently from similarly situated employees outside their protected class. 

If these elements are met then the employer must articulate a non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. If an employer does so, then the employee has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the employer’s articulated reason is a mere pretext/ excuse for discrimination.

It is important to consult with an experienced LGBTQ+ employment lawyer to understand your legal options.

  • Back pay damages for wages lost due to the harassment
  • Emotional distress damages (also referred to as compensatory damages)
  • Punitive damages designed to punish the employer for especially reckless or malicious harassment
  • Reasonable attorney’s fees

If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online.

top lgbtq lawyer; LGBT lawyer; Bachman Law

Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination remains a persistent problem in many workplaces. An important federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibits discrimination against employees with disabilities.  Likewise, many states and local municipalities have laws that make disability discrimination unlawful as well. A separate law, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, covers employees who work for the federal government. It is important to consult with an experienced disability discrimination lawyer to understand your legal options.

It is illegal for an employer to treat a qualified individual who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because they have a disability.

Also, if an employer treats an applicant or employee less favorably because they have a history of a disability (such as a past serious illness), or because they are believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is long lasting and more than minor, then this too may be unlawful. 

An employer must provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer (“undue hardship”).

The ADA also protects people who do not have a disability from “associational discrimination” based on their relationship with a person with a disability. For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because their spouse has a disability.

To prove that you have been illegally discriminated against due to your disability, you must show that
  1. the employer is subject to the ADA;
  2. the employee is disabled as defined by the ADA, has a record of impairment, or is perceived to be so by the employer;
  3. the employee is able to perform essential functions of the job, either with or without reasonable accommodation; and
  4. the employer took an adverse employment action against the employee because of, in whole or in part, the employee’s protected disability.

The ADA and the EEOC’s interpretation of it require an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and job applicants with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.

According to the EEOC, a reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment  to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.

Reasonable accommodation might include, for example, making the workplace accessible for wheelchair users or providing a reader or interpreter for someone who is blind or hearing impaired.

  • Back pay damages for wages lost due to the harassment
  • emotional distress damages (also referred to as compensatory damages)
  • punitive damages designed to punish the employer for especially reckless or malicious harassment.
  • Reasonable attorney’s fees

It is important to speak with a disability discrimination lawyer to maximize your potential damages. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online.

LGBTQ+ Discrimination

Yes. The Supreme Court issued a major victory for LGBTQ+ employees in 2020 that has been reverberating in companies across the country: Title VII of the 1964 Civil Right Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against LGBTQ+ workers. Talk with an experienced LGBTQ+ employment lawyer to find out your legal options.

The case is Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and in a 6-3 ruling delivered during Pride Month, the Supreme Court held that an employer may not discriminate against any individual because of their sex and that “the straightforward application of Title VII’s terms” means that “sex” includes different treatment based on one’s homosexuality or transgender status.

The decision is historic for a number of reasons, including that it provides nation-wide protection for LGBTQ+ employees, rather than the patchwork of state and local laws that prohibit LGBTQ+ discrimination.

To establish a prima facie case of LGBTQ+ discrimination based on intentional discrimination an employee must show that they:

  1. are a member of a protected class,
  2. suffered an adverse employment action,
  3. met their employer’s legitimate expectations at the time of the adverse employment action, and
  4. were treated differently from similarly situated employees outside their protected class. 

If these elements are met then the employer must articulate a non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. If an employer does so, then the employee has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the employer’s articulated reason is a mere pretext/ excuse for discrimination.

It is important to consult with an experienced LGBTQ+ employment lawyer to understand your legal options.

  • Back pay damages for wages lost due to the harassment
  • Emotional distress damages (also referred to as compensatory damages)
  • Punitive damages designed to punish the employer for especially reckless or malicious harassment
  • Reasonable attorney’s fees

If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online.

top lgbtq lawyer; LGBT lawyer; Bachman Law
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