Area of Law:
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights dedicates itself to protecting the residents of the state from all forms of discrimination, including workplace discrimination based on skin color, race, or country of origin. The Kentucky state laws supplement the already strict federal laws regarding what is and what is not considered racial discrimination. Companies that are found to be in violation of these statutes, either at the state or federal level, face severe penalties for breaking the law. If you feel you have been the victim of workplace racial discrimination, you should know what options are available to you and how you can proceed with filing a complaint.
First of all, not all incidents of racial discrimination end up with a complaint being made, and there are several reasons why many people are hesitant to come forward. Sometimes people may doubt their own judgment if they're unsure about whether or not what they experienced was discrimination. Other times people are sure, but they’re afraid of being demoted, harassed, or even fired for speaking out against their employer or company. Retaliation against employees for standing up for their civil rights is just as serious an offense in Kentucky as are the actual civil rights violations. Legally, you are allowed to keep your and current pay level providing that there is no other legitimate reason for your employer to change your circumstances (for example, if your standard of work falls for a reason other than a hostile work environment).
If you are unsure as to whether or not your case can correctly be labeled as discrimination, try talking to some knowledgeable people. Talking to the HR representative in your company can often be a good starting point. Many times conflicts can be resolved through HR, and as a result, a lengthy and expensive court case can be avoided. Another good idea is to speak to an attorney about what has happened to you and get some sound legal advice about what kind of case you have and what your next step should be. If your attorney feels that your case is strong enough, you will likely be advised to file a formal complaint, either with the KCHR or with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office in your area.
Both the EEOC and the KCHR require that you file a complaint within 180 days of the date of the alleged discriminatory incident. This means that you need to move fairly quickly to get your complaint filed. You may also be up against other legal deadlines that you are not yet aware of, so the sooner the better in terms of filing your complaint. A complaint may lead to mediation, at which point a mediator will be brought in to try to settle the matter out of court. If this works, the complaint goes no further, but if it fails, a full investigation will ensue that will end either in a dismissal of the complaint or with the relevant commission allowing you the right to sue.