Not only is the desert state of Arizona home to the Grand Canyon – the deepest fissure in the Earth’s crust – but it also boasts one of the most diverse populations in the U.S. Dozens of Native American tribes, immigrants from Mexico and South America, retirees, college students, and cowboys all call Arizona home. According to a 2008 census, Arizona’s population is just over 6.5 million. Nearly 20% of the state’s residents speak Spanish, and nearly two percent speak the Navajo language.
Employment discrimination cases in Arizona are handled at the Attorney General’s Office through the state’s Civil Rights Division. The division operates under a mandate to resolve employment disputes, provide a range of community services, and raise the profile of civil rights issues and civil rights laws. Arizona bars discrimination in the following domains:
- Public accommodations and housing
- Litigating civil rights complaints
Arizona’s Civil Rights Division receives complaints, addresses and rectifies discrimination, and surveys employees to identify potential problems and trends in harassment. The Division also publishes reports, holds hearings, and executes both administrative and enforcement functions for the state. The Division’s staff is comprised of volunteer mediators, coordinators of programs, compliance officers, lawyers, and interns. The CRD operates offices out of both Tucson and Phoenix.
Often, workplace discrimination cases in Arizona center on the rights of illegal immigrants from Mexico and the obligations of their stateside employers. Illegal immigrants labor under dubious conditions, suffer wage and hour violations, and endure general harassment and retaliation. On the other hand, U.S. citizens in Arizona complain of lost employment opportunities, due to the fact that many immigrants tolerate unfair practices and conditions and thus encourage discriminatory behavior.
Regardless of an employee’s national origin or occupation, employers have the obligation to abide by local, state, and federal laws regarding their workforces. When they fail to adhere to these regulations, the resulting court disputes include:
- Discrimination. Should an employee face unequal treatment regarding hiring or other employment decisions because of gender, national origin, race, disability, religion, age, or other protected status, federal or state law specifies sanctions for their employers.
- Retaliation. Employees have the right to assert their rights under laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Equal Pay Act. When they do so, their employers may not penalize them with adverse actions such as reduced hours, unfavorable reassignments, or demotions.
- Hour and wage claims. Employers simply must pay employees for the work they perform. This includes compensation for hours worked off the clock, overtime for nonexempt employees, correct exempt or nonexempt worker designations, and adherence to fair tipping practices.
- Sexual harassment. Employees of all genders, orientations, and ages are entitled to a workplace free from hostility. This includes inappropriate and unwelcome behavior such as quid pro quo propositions, repeated unwanted advances, and lewd language that continues after the individual requests for it to stop.
If you have encountered discrimination, harassment, or other unlawful practices at your Arizona workplace, public and private agencies and professionals are here to help. Reach out to an Arizona employment lawyer today to discuss how to proceed.