Even with laws in place to prevent it, employees are still treated unfairly at work every day. Unfair treatment can lead you to feel ashamed, upset, and less productive at work. You might even feel worried about the security of your job position or potential consequences for speaking up about it.

Certain characteristics, such as gender or gender reassignment, age, race, and religion (among other traits) are protected, meaning it’s illegal for your employer to harass or treat you unfairly based on them. We’ll go into more detail about which qualities are protected, in addition to your rights as an employee in Arizona. If you experience discrimination at work, it’s important to take action as soon as possible due to reporting deadlines. 

What are Your Employee Rights in Arizona?

  • Arizona is an “at will” employment state, meaning your employment may be ended at any time (unless it’s for illegal reasons)
  • If you’ve experienced discrimination at work, it’s important to file a complaint soon, since you have limited time to do so
  • If you’ve been wrongfully terminated, you have up to a year to seek recourse for it (preferably with an attorney’s help)
  • If you decide to file a complaint, the law protects you against retaliation from your employer for making the report

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What is “At Will” Employment?

Most Arizona private sector workers are “at will” employees, meaning that their employment isn’t protected by a bargaining agreement or written contract and may be ended at any time and for any legal reason (or no reason).

Discrimination Laws in Arizona

Discrimination laws Arizona make it illegal to discriminate against employees due to a disability, their age, gender or gender reassignment, civil partnership or marriage, pregnancy and maternity, race, religious (or similar) beliefs, sex or sexual orientation.

Some towns and cities have their own local ordinances with discrimination (although most of the rules are basically the same). To check which specific laws apply to your area, speak with the equal employment opportunity office nearest you. 

Protected Activity Related to Discrimination

There are laws in place to protect you against retaliation at work due to reporting or participating in an investigation regarding discrimination. Activity protected according to these laws may include asserting your rights at work. There are special “whistle-blower” rules for those who work in government.

Bullying vs. Discrimination

Although it’s unprofessional, bullying someone due to factors like their clothes or hobbies outside work, isn’t illegal. However, you should still report it to the human resources department if someone repeatedly makes disparaging remarks to you at work for any reason.

Reporting Employment Discrimination

If you believe you’ve been subjected to employment discrimination at a company with 15 or more employees, you can file a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). You have up to 180 or 300 days from the discriminatory act to report it, so make sure you ask while filing if you aren’t sure which deadline to use.

You can file a charge with the ACRD (Arizona Civil Rights Division) if you work at a location with less than 15 employees. You have up to 180 days after the discriminatory act to file with the ACRD. Once you’ve filed a charge, the agency will typically conduct an investigation at no cost to you.

Your “Right to Sue”

When you file your charge, the investigating agency must determine “cause” or “no cause” for your case and issue you a “right to sue” letter, regardless of what it finds. Once you receive this letter, you have only 90 days to file a civil suit.

How Working With an Attorney Can Help

Employees often have trouble protecting themselves at work due to being outnumbered or simply not knowing which laws specifically apply to their situation. An employment law attorney knows all the most current rules regarding your rights as an employee. They can help point you in the right direction, advise you on specific questions, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions on Employee Rights

Here are some common questions related to employee rights in Arizona:

Q: How long does the EEOC investigation take after I make my report?

It usually takes around 6 months for the EEOC to investigate a discrimination charge. Keep in mind that the exact amount of time the investigation will take depends on how much information the organization needs to gather and look at. If you choose to use mediation to settle your charge, it should take 3 months or less.

Q: What should I expect after filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC?

As soon as you’ve filed, the commission will send a copy of the charge and a notice to your employer, in addition to giving you a copy of the complaint with a charge number. The EEOC might then decide to ask you and your employer to participate in a program for mediation, dismiss your claim, or ask the employer to answer your charge (and related questions).

Q: What are my rights regarding overtime pay in Arizona?

As long as you’re a non-exempt employee, you must receive time and a half for any hours you work beyond 40 hours in a single workweek.

Q: What action can I take if I believe I’ve been wrongfully terminated?

You have up to a year to file a charge if your employer has wrongfully terminated your employment. You may sue for wrongful termination if your employer violated a written contract in firing you, did so due to discriminatory reasons and you’ve received a “right to sue” letter, or if they terminated you as retaliation for protected conduct mentioned previously. If you haven’t filed a complaint with the EEOC or ACRD, make sure you do that first.

What to Do if You Need Help

Reporting unfair treatment at work can be intimidating, so it’s helpful to have a legal professional on your side during the process. Speak with one of our employment law attorneys today if you have any questions or simply need guidance on what step to take next.
 

Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.

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