Call Us Today
Full-Service Legal Advocacy….It’s Different Here.
hostile work environment

I’m Being Discriminated Against at my New Hampshire Job. What Should I Do?

Is your supervisor making your life miserable? Do you feel like you’re in a “hostile work environment"? According to recent reports, 61% of workers in the United States have witnessed or experienced workplace discrimination. In those situations, it feels horrible, but does the law protect you?

Any lawyer will likely tell you that it depends.

Federal law protects employees from harassment and discrimination on the basis of age, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy), race, color, disability, religion, or national origin. New Hampshire state law protects against all of those bases as well as marital status.

If your employment woes arise from conduct related to any of the protected statuses listed above, you may have an actionable claim. However, if your boss is treating you and/or your coworkers poorly regardless of various protected statuses, you likely do not have an actionable claim.

For example, compare these two situations:

  1. Your boss constantly belittles and talks down to you at meetings in front of your coworkers and direct reports and makes comments and remarks directly related to your status in a protected class (i.e., woman) and then fails to promote you when a position for which you are well qualified becomes available. That may be an actionable claim.
  2. Your boss constantly belittles and talks down to you and many of your coworkers at meetings and is generally mean and condescending to everyone. He then fails to promote you when a position opens up, opting to bring in a friend from outside the company. This is likely not an actionable claim as it is not based on your protected status.

If you do believe you have an actionable claim, what should you do? Here are five steps to take when you are experiencing workplace harassment, discrimination, or retaliation in New Hampshire:

  1. Document everything. Take notes on any in-person conversations. Do not record any conversations without permission. Send emails to confirm events when you can. As many “in the moment” writings associated with the events you can provide, the better.
  2. Report all incidents through your employer’s procedure. If your employer has a policy on how to handle complaints of discrimination or harassment, use them. Send complaints in writing or follow up to confirm them in writing if you initially report verbally.
  3. Try not to quit. By all means, do what is best for your mental health. If you need to quit, then quit. But if your goal is to build the best case, it is generally best to wait for your employer to fire you.
  4. If you are terminated, look for work right away. The law requires you to try to "mitigate your damages", i.e., get a comparable job as soon as you can.
  5. Talk to a lawyer. It's always helpful to get an outside perspective on your situation and to discuss strategy if you have something actionable.

In employment discrimination cases, you are required to first file a charge of discrimination with either the state or federal employment agency before you can proceed with litigation. You have only 180 days to file with the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission (NHHRC) and 300 days to file with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Generally, you only have 180 days to file with the EEOC but the timeframe is longer here because New Hampshire has its own similar law. Regardless, it's best to act fast!

In 2020, the EEOC received 67,488 discrimination claims but resolved only 165 lawsuits. Although the success rate for these cases is low, many complaints settle outside of court. It is important to speak with an experienced employment lawyer to help you understand your potential claim and guide you through the process.

The New Hampshire employment lawyers at Shaheen & Gordon have successfully handled discrimination claims on behalf of clients for decades. We understand the significant emotional and financial impact workplace discrimination can have on someone's life. If you are a victim of workplace discrimination in New Hampshire, Shaheen & Gordon is here to help. Please contact us online or call 888-801-9916 to speak to our team.

Olivia Bensinger is a litigation attorney at Shaheen & Gordon. She assists clients with issues related to civil rights, employment, and general commercial litigation.