Thousands of workplace discrimination cases occur every year in California. Unfortunately, it’s a far too common occurrence. For many, it can be an utterly painful experience—those faced with discrimination on the job overall experience low morale and productivity. It can be shocking to witness discrimination, especially by a coworker or employer that you trusted. Maybe it was even someone you looked up to previously. As a police officer, you need to rely on your coworkers more than any other job. So what do you do when they break that trust?
Take a Step Back
The first thing you want to do when you experience discrimination in the workplace is to remove your emotions from the situation. Realize that whatever was said or done was not your fault. There is nothing you can do to provoke discrimination; it is entirely the other person’s fault. Once you come to terms with that, it can be a little easier to separate yourself from the emotional aspect. Separation can also help you look at the situation objectively. Once you take the emotions away, you can see the facts. It’s not enough to just have a feeling that someone dislikes you, so take a look at the evidence.
Speaking of evidence, keeping records is the number one thing you can do to help fight back against discrimination cases. Understandably, this is not always a crime that will have a witness. Most of the time, people know what they are doing wrong and only do it in secret. Having records and documentation of the discriminatory acts can help you gain back some control. If you sense a problem starting to arise, start keeping a journal. Take note of the date and time that the incidences occur, including anyone who was a witness.
When you decide to report the behavior, make sure it is to someone you can trust. Sometimes it can be a communication problem or even a misunderstanding. But either way, the other person could take it personally. Unfortunately, not everyone can take their emotions out of a professional situation. If you feel like this is the case, then you could be facing retaliation. Retaliation is when someone tries to get back at you or make you pay. If you reported something and then feel like your supervisor punished you, that is an illegal activity. You should also record things like this in the journal to back up your claim.
The Next Steps
Sometimes, you cannot deal with cases of discrimination on your own. No matter how maturely you are willing to handle it. Suppose you have reported discrimination, and your employer has been unresponsive, or even worse, retaliated against you. In that case, you may need to take more drastic steps. Remember, there are laws in place to protect your rights and an employee and as a police officer. You do not need to suffer in silence. No one should feel helpless at their place of work because of discrimination. Suppose you have been put in this unfortunate situation and cannot find an ally in the department. In that case, it is time to look elsewhere. As hard as it may be, remember it is not your fault. An attorney can look over the instances you have recorded and advise you moving forward. You don’t have to fight this alone.