Discrimination unfortunately can happen in the workplace. If an employee feels like they are treated differently by their current employer, or felt like they had to leave a company because they were being discriminated against, it is important to know that you can fight back.
What Is Considered Discrimination?
Discrimination is classified as someone being treated differently or not the same as colleagues for a reason that is unknown to the employee.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) breaks down discrimination into the following categories:
- Age Discrimination - being treated unfairly because of their age
- Disability Discrimination - being treated unfairly because they have a disability (that can be seen or unseen)
- Sexual Orientation - being treated unfairly because of someone’s sexual preferences
- Status as a Parent - being treated unfairly because a person is a parent and the employer may think the employee may not be as dedicated to the job as non-parents
- Religious Discrimination - being treated unfairly because of someone’s religious affiliation
- National Origin - being treated unfairly because of where the person was born or where they came from
- Pregnancy - being treated unfairly because of being pregnant
- Sexual Harassment - being touched or verbally spoken to in a way that is unwanted and sexual in nature
- Race, Color, and Sex - being treated unfairly because of the color of your skin or your gender.
- Reprisal / Retaliation - being treated unfairly because of actions you did in reporting an issue or problem with the company.
How Can You Prove Discrimination?
Proving discrimination can be difficult if you do not have the proper documentation. It is also the responsibility of the claimant to prove discrimination rather than the employer.
When proving discrimination, the most significant evidence a claimant can bring is documentation of the discrimination. This can be tricky if all discriminatory acts were verbal, but there are ways a person can make a paper trail.
The two types of evidence in a discrimination claim are the following:
This is when you have details and documentation proving that discrimination took place. This could include:
- statements from managers or supervisors that confirm they witnessed the action taken against you;
- a record you’ve kept of any time the negative actions happened to you; and,
- printing of any emails or statements that show the discriminatory actions.
This is also known as circumstantial evidence and is anything that allows others to assume discrimination occurred when there is no direct evidence in place. This would mean an employee would need to prove discrimination happened based upon actions that aren’t documented.
While it may be difficult to prove circumstantial evidence, there are questions an employee should ask themselves that could prove discrimination took place:
- Were you the most qualified person for the position and still did not get the new job or promotion?
- Are you being treated differently compared to other employees in the same position who have the same qualifications and experience as you?
- Does the manager or supervisor have a bias towards another employee in your same position?
- Were any company policies blatantly violated?
Is it Worth Fighting a Discriminatory Claim?
Yes. Chances are if you are being discriminated against, there are others who have been or will be discriminated against too. By setting a precedent, you are paving the way for a better work environment.
Additionally, you could also receive the following if you win your claim:
- Back pay: this would be for lost earnings from the time the first discriminatory act took place to the day the claim is finalized
- Loss of benefits: this would include health care coverage, pension or 401k plans, or stock options. You are entitled to be paid for those once you win your claim.
- Punitive damages: this is a punishment directly at the employer for their inappropriate conduct.
- Emotional damages: this is for the pain and suffering you went through as a result of the discrimination.
When you are ready to fight a discrimination claim, you’ll need an experienced legal team that will battle for you. At Strauss & Strauss, APC, we only represent employees, never employers, because we believe everyone is entitled to a safe work environment. Contact us today for a free initial consultation to get started.