Workplace discrimination is unacceptable, and it can have a tremendous impact on your life. It can cause you to miss out on key employment opportunities, lead to demotion or termination and cause you mental and emotional pain and suffering.
You shouldn’t be subjected to these harmful discriminatory acts, but the sad reality is that the onus is on you to ensure that your rights are protected in the workplace. To do so, you may have to take legal action against your employer to find accountability and recover compensation for the harm that you have suffered. But how do you go about proving your workplace discrimination case?
How to build your employment discrimination case
There are several ways to approach your workplace discrimination case. Let’s look at some of the strategies that you may be able to implement in your case:
- Present circumstantial evidence: This is how many workplace discrimination cases are proven. Here, you don’t have direct evidence of overt discriminatory acts, but you have facts to present that create an inference that discrimination has occurred. Here, you’ll have to start by showing that you’re part of a protected class and that you were qualified for the position that you held. Then you’ll want to show that you suffered an adverse employment action and were replaced by someone who is not in the same protected class as you.
If you can establish these elements, the burden shifts to your employer to show that the adverse employment action was taken for a justified (not discriminating) reason. If the employer succeeds in showing that, you have to show that the reason given for the justification was nothing more than a pretext for discrimination.
- Present direct evidence: Direct evidence is evidence that on its own shows discrimination. This might include direct statements that contain discriminatory language, or written correspondence that clearly conveys discriminatory intent. This type of evidence isn’t as common as indirect evidence, as employers typically don’t come out and say that they plan on discriminating against you. Still, you should keep your eyes open for this direct evidence, because it may exist and can make your case a lot easier to prove.
- Show disparate impact: In some instances, workplace discrimination occurs because policies and practices that seem innocent on their face disproportionately impact people of a protected class. Disparate impact can be challenging to prove because it often requires you to gather statistics, but it’s not impossible. Talking to co-workers and seeking employment records might be insightful in this regard.
What evidence do you need?
Your own personal accounts of discriminatory practices can be powerful, but you should try to back them up with extrinsic evidence. This might include written correspondence with your employer and other witness testimony.
You should also anticipate how your employer is going to try to show that it was justified in taking action against you. Therefore, you’ll want to consider if there are any weaknesses in your performance appraisals or if complaints have been made against you so that you know how to appropriately address them.
Are you ready to fight for what you deserve?
Employment discrimination can cause a significant amount of damage to you and your family. You shouldn’t just sit back and accept it. Instead, you should carefully think through your legal options and act on those that you think are most appropriate for your circumstances.
If you’d like help advocating your claim, then you may want to think about having a competent legal professional in your corner who knows how to aggressively navigate this area of the law.