One significant workplace change stemming from the global COVID-19 pandemic is the huge increase in employees working from home. While many industries cannot implement this trend due to the nature of their work (mechanics, food service, and other “hands-on” professions in particular), many more sent workers home to work during the pandemic and were pleased with the results. However, a painful leftover from this monumental shift in the workplace is remote working discrimination.
Do you have any recourse when suffering remote working discrimination?
What is Remote Working Discrimination?
Remote work, also called telecommuting, has numerous benefits for both employers and employees, but as with any other aspect of human relations, the ugly specter of discrimination finds ways to invade. Similar to discrimination in person, telecommuting discrimination degrades relationships, interferes with productivity and violates a worker’s rights. And while the telecommuter’s “workplace” may be at home, recent court rulings apply the traditional anti-discrimination protections of federal law to those working from home.
Remote working discrimination often takes the following forms:
- Disability Discrimination – Some workers have reported being denied requests for accommodations, such as continuing to work from home after the pandemic, which would allow them to continue working and being productive. Some even report suffering demotions, suspensions or termination for claiming a disability that would make it easier for them to work from home – even if they were allowed to do so previously.
- Gender Discrimination – Some studies have found that women suffer a disproportionate impact from orders to cease telecommuting and return to the public workplace. If this can be proven, a worker has grounds for a claim of gender discrimination. Have more men been allowed to continue telecommuting at your workplace than women?
- Other Discrimination – Other remote workers have reported being passed over for promotions, pay raises and other considerations when compared to those still working in the public workplace. They feel viewed as “second best” or not as well-regarded as those still in the workplace.
Your rights in the workplace, including when working from home, are protected by various federal laws, most of which are mirrored in numerous state laws. These include:
- Title VIIof the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects against discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967(ADEA)
- American with Disabilities Act of 1990(ADA)
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
These and other applicable state laws in Tennessee can be applied to remote workers. The links above can provide more information about each law; an experienced Employment Law Attorney from The Crone Law Firm can explain more and answer your questions in a confidential consultation.
What to Do About Telecommuting Discrimination
If you believe you have experienced telecommuting discrimination in any form, you should seriously consider taking the following actions.
- Collect Evidence – Save any documentation you can that could indicate discrimination. This can be in emails, social media messages, official work letters or policies, video conference recordings or more.
- Report to Your Employer – Begin with your immediate supervisor if they are not involved in the discriminatory acts; if they are, move to the next level of management. Report your concerns and share copies of the evidence you have collected. Record this interaction, including the name of your supervisor, date and time of the complaint.
- Submit a Formal Complaint – If your place of employment fails to address the matter correctly, or you are terminated after submitting your complaint at work, file a formal complaint with The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC may choose to investigate your workplace and take corrective action against your employer.
At any time, you have the right to consult with an Employment Law Attorney for advice or counsel. The Crone Law Firm represents remote workers in western Tennessee and eastern Missouri when they need legal assistance with workplace discrimination claims. Contact us today by phone or online and request a free case evaluation.