National Origin Discrimination Caused Me To Leave

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about discrimination:

Hi, I work in LA and started this position in November. There were some spats at work between my manager, me and my admin. My admin had brought up my national origin multiple times about which I complained to my manager without any result. Then, my admin was laid off and my manager gave me work including some that were not my responsibility. I messaged my manager that there was some tasks I couldn’t allocate my time towards, yet I continued doing it for 3 months.

I then forwarded the same email to the HR and my manager and told them that it is difficult for me to handle all this. The HR just pushed the issue back to my manager to resolve and my manager again brought up “how I am lucky to be in the US and I should tolerate small things like this”.

I found an email on his computer (while I was using his laptop to send a file to myself) where he had forwarded that same email to another manager saying “this is the reason why I am forcing his a** out”. I have that email with me. I feel he had some biased against me based on my national origin.

So, I actually ended up leaving the job. I have had excellent reviews from previous managers but this manager just didn’t like me since I started working with him. Would you suggest I work with a lawyer to file a lawsuit against the company?

Signed–Biased Against Me

Dear Biased Against Me:

Our site answers workplace communication questions and yours certainly is that, but we recommend those that are legal to consult with an attorney. You asked: “Would you suggest I work with a lawyer to file a lawsuit against the company?”

You say, “So, I actually ended up leaving the job.” Therefore, I assume leaving was your choice. Did you just not return one day or did you give an oral or written notice that you were quitting at a certain date? And did you state why you were quitting? Discrimination cases are best handled in cases of being fired and/or unfair practice while employed. These are details an attorney probably would want to know. They also should help determine if you have a case. Generally, a discrimination charge is one that Human Resources should investigate and require it is stopped. That is an employer’s responsibility when informed. If you employer was within federal and/or state requirements, a discrimination case should be reported to the Equal Opportunity Office. Did you request that?  Outside the EEO, an attorney for such a case should take it on contingency and, in writing, should state what if any fees you are expected to pay.

However, before consulting a lawyer, I also suggest you think through and learn from this unhappy experience. Apparently from the start there was trouble between you and your superiors. You say there were “spats at work between my manager, me and my admin.” What were these about–what exactly was said? What provoked them and why do you think your administrator mentioned your national origin. Was it because you disagreed about assignments or didn’t understand or interrupted or a combination of these?    

Unfortunately there is national origin discrimination and you were right to call that to the attention of your manager and H.R. Do you have record of when you did that and if you repeated that. What was the last specific instance that resulted in you leaving. Seeing that things are made right often requires patience and persistence.

I take your word that in previous employment reviews have been positive, then why did you seek employment in this place? When you took this job, were you given a clear job description and did you have any question about its culture? So is this a time of job search for you and, if so, can you benefit from this unhappy experience you’ve had? Now is a time not to allow this bad experience to sour you. The issue for you to ponder is how to approach your future with determination to add value in your next job–both by your performance and positive attitude. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS–in short working life is interdependent. Hopefully, from now on it will be purposeful and pleasant. Please keep us posted as to what you elect to do and how that works out. –William Gorden