Discrimination in workplaces is quite common and even more common in startups. Launching a startup isn’t easy, and some challenges and mistakes can arise. Among them is failing to hire professional legal counsel. This leads to a lack of guidance for their processes and in drawing essential guidelines and policies. This can lead to the initiation of lawsuits against startups, and among them are discrimination lawsuits.
There are varied reasons for an employee to feel discriminated against at the workplace. It could be because of their age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and many other issues that infringe their human rights. Startups are mostly still trying to figure out how to survive in a steeply competitive environment. Balancing business and employee needs can become tricky and issues like unlawful termination lawsuits can arise.
What Is Workplace Discrimination?
But first, what qualifies as discrimination in the workplace? This is when an employee is unfavorably treated based on their disability, gender, pregnancy, religion, sexuality, illness, or race, among others outlined in the Equality Act, passed recently as an expansion to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
If an employee is treated differently because of any of these characteristics, it equates to discrimination. Here are the reasons that make discrimination lawsuits in businesses and startups common.
There Is an Increased Awareness Of Employee Rights
The top reason discrimination lawsuits have become increasingly common is that more people are aware of their rights. Many of them are willing to fight for them as well. While the Civil Rights laws are quite old, discrimination lawsuits have only recently started to come into the picture in large numbers. This knowledge has made many employees aware that some of the issues they’re facing at the workplace tantamount to discrimination.
However, this doesn’t mean that discrimination cases have suddenly increased, it simply means that more people are brave enough to fight for their rights. More people are aware of what should or shouldn’t happen in the workplace and are coming out in great numbers to speak and fight against all forms of discrimination.
Retaliation from Employers
As many employees rise to fight against injustice in the workplace, many employers are also seeking to fight against it. In a bid to protect their brands and reputation, discrimination suits became more publicized. No employer wants to be labeled as one who discriminates against employees based on some characteristics.
Besides, employers are also aware that if they are found to have violated the discrimination laws, there will be adverse consequences. Workplace retaliation is also very common nowadays. While some employers are guilty of this, others are highly opposed to this unfair act. Businesses that possess integrity in all of their dealings choose to solve the issues amicably. It lowers the risk of a tainted reputation and keeps the employees satisfied at the same time.
If startups can opt to solve the discrimination lawsuits against them in this manner, they might be able to minimize costs and keep their reputation intact.
The Digital Age
Nowadays, information can be passed to a massive audience in an instant. The rise of social platforms where people connect and share information is being used increasingly to voice issues related to discrimination at work. These communication mediums have become a common ground where those who need to be heard share their challenges, views, opinions, and experiences.
This creates a following and also gives a voice to other people with similar experiences. This urges more mistreated employees to institute lawsuits against their employers. Employees who feel violated are finally getting a voice.
Another motivation for employees to sue for discrimination is the possibility of payout. Although no one wishes to face discrimination just for the payout, lawsuits are commonly becoming a way to penalize employers. If an employee wins the case, there’s a possibility of getting compensated depending on the extent of the damage caused by the employer.
Discriminated employees become at ease knowing that there’s someone to hold responsible for their pain and suffering, for which they can also receive compensation. Judgment on these cases encompasses a lot of issues that are quantified, including emotional distress. Employees with evidence of discrimination can easily win such cases.
When startups are just launching, owners tend to focus more on protecting intellectual property, funding, and incorporation. While this is entirely understandable and necessary, they forget to cover one aspect of the startup—lawsuits. Lawsuits can be lengthy and draining financially and energy-wise, leaving the startup with little to no life afterward. It can also create unnecessary and negative publicity on the business that can cause its ratings and reputation to shrink drastically.
With proper legal guidance, even discrimination lawsuits can be avoided, saving a business’s brand name and character. If a startup lacks preventive measures to prevent litigation processes, it may become vulnerable to such cases. If your startup happens to get into legal issues, ensure to find a lawyer immediately.