Workplace discrimination can be tricky to prove, as it’s very easy for employers, or any other alleged aggressor, to lie about their intentions. Because of this, victims must prepare and gather evidence as soon as possible, but where should you begin? To help you gain better odds of winning your case, here’s how to prove discrimination occurred in your workplace.
Know What Types of Evidence Are Required
As mentioned, it is very easy for an aggressor to lie, and an employer will rarely outright admit to discriminating against you. Because of this, courts require at least one of three types of evidence to prove that discrimination occurred: direct, circumstantial, or pattern of behavior. Ideally, once the inciting incident occurs, you’ll start collecting and keeping records of correspondence such as emails, reviews, or other relevant documents. This is an especially critical step when preparing for consultation with your employment lawyer, as they will need as much information as possible to determine if your case holds water.
Direct evidence is any written, digital, or recorded evidence that explicitly states the employer was acting in a discriminatory manner. However, this type of evidence is often rare because most employers will not explicitly state their reason for discrimination. Some examples of direct evidence:
- Statements that an employer will never hire someone of a specific race.
- Written policies to never hire someone of a specific gender.
- Correspondence telling other workers or supervisors not to promote or contact an employee because of their religion.
Circumstantial evidence, sometimes referred to as indirect evidence, is a fact that infers discrimination occurred. To clarify, if you look outside and see a tree, that is direct evidence that a tree is outside. However, if you see the shadow of a tree, that is circumstantial evidence suggesting there is a tree outside. In these instances, the employee must establish a prima facia case. To do so, they have to prove that they are a member of a protected class, they were subjected to adverse action in the workplace, and there are signs that the action was discriminatory.
Once the case is established, it is then up to the employer to show that the action wasn’t discriminatory. Then, the burden shifts back to the employee, and it is up to them to show that the rebuttal given was used to hide the real reason, also known as being “pretextual.” This back and forth may occur for some time.
Pattern of Discrimination
Lastly, you can use the evidence gathered to try and prove a pattern of behavior, but this can be very difficult. It must be proven that several people have been directly affected by the employer’s conduct. Because of this, this form of evidence is usually regulated for class action lawsuits.
Knowing how to prove discrimination in the workplace starts here, and now that you’re equipped with the proper knowledge, you have a better shot at proving your case and getting the compensation you deserve.